By George Darany
As the Legislature begins a new year, I would like to thank everyone who has contacted my office to share their thoughts and concerns. It is truly an honor and privilege to represent my hometown of Dearborn in Lansing, and I am encouraged by all the support I have received. In addition to the numerous calls I receive on legislation, my office has been pleased to help cut through some of the red tape we all encounter when working with government.
As you may be aware, Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his State of the State address earlier this month. During his address, the governor spent time going over what he saw as his accomplishments from last year and then discussed a few new initiatives. I may not agree with the governor all of the time, but I do look forward to working with him on a few new proposals like providing insurance coverage for autism treatment and continuing work on building a second bridge to our largest trading partner, Canada.
Last year we saw historic changes to our tax structure. At a time when many are struggling, we saw taxes increased on our seniors and those on fixed incomes. We also saw the elimination of a number of tax credits, including credits for charitable donations to community food banks and foundations. We also saw a drastic reduction to the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor, all to pay for an over one billion dollar reduction in taxes paid by businesses.
This year, the governor is working on a proposal to reduce or restructure the personal property taxes that businesses pay. Personal property taxes are taxes on things like machines and equipment, as well as computers and office furniture. These taxes that businesses pay are collected by the state and then sent to local communities in the form of revenue sharing payments. This money is used by local municipalities to help pay for vital services like police and fire protection, as well as other important services like those provided by our libraries.
While revenue sharing payments have been decreasing throughout the past several years, the need for these services has increased. Revenue sharing was originally designed to reduce the need for local communities to levy income taxes at the local level. Payments come in two forms, one is guaranteed by the Michigan Constitution and the other portion is statutory, or written into the law. A reduction in statutory revenue sharing payments means that communities are doing more with less. In fact, the state has been encouraging municipalities to use cost saving measures by coordinating and sharing services with other local units of government.
In an effort to reduce costs, communities are now able to capture a portion of their statutory revenue sharing payments through performance-based actions in the form of Economic Vitality Incentive Program grants. I applaud the city of Dearborn for being recognized by the state for looking at such measures. The city has entered into discussions with Melvindale, Allen Park and Dearborn Heights to combine property tax administration functions to achieve greater operational and cost efficiencies. I encourage this cooperation and will continue to work to make sure that our communities are getting the resources they need to serve their citizens.
One of my main priorities for the coming year is to provide adequate funding for our schools and to make sure that our teachers and administrators have the resources and tools they need to educate our children. Last year, teachers and administrators in Dearborn came together to reduce the impact of school aid cuts in our classrooms. This cooperation illustrates the positive things that can be achieved when we work together.
In any relationship, our successes come when we work together and focus on what we have in common, rather than dwelling on our differences. Our citizens want and deserve bipartisan cooperation to solve the challenges we face. In today’s debate, too much time is spent on political posturing rather than on solving the challenges we face. Last year, the leadership in Lansing was very partisan and aggressive in their approach to government. As we debate the issues and legislation in this upcoming year, you have my commitment that I will continue to focus on what is best for Dearborn and its citizens.
If my office can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
(State Rep. George Darany represents the 15th House District. To contact him, call (855) 775-1515 or email him at [email protected] To sign up for his e-newsletter, go to his website, house.mi.gov/gdarany.)