By George Darany
As your state representative, I feel it is important to represent your views and to keep you informed on what is taking place in Lansing. I would like to thank everyone who has contacted my office to share their concerns and offer their support. I am honored to represent the citizens of Dearborn and will continue to work to improve the quality of life for all of our residents.
As many of you are aware, one of the biggest changes we saw implemented last year by the leadership in Lansing was the major shift in state tax policy. The state’s financial burdens were placed solely on the backs of Michigan’s working-class families to subsidize an 83 percent tax break for corporations.
Instead of focusing on job creation, the leadership in Lansing passed legislation that hurts Michigan residents and workers by raising taxes, targeting unemployed workers, and endangering our students and children by gutting education funding. We have continued to see policies that benefit big corporations and special interest groups instead of helping and protecting our Michigan workers and their families.
A new 6 percent corporate tax that went into effect in January replaces the Michigan Business Tax and reduced taxes on large corporations by more than $1 billion. This new law also exempts approximately 95,000 businesses from paying the tax. As a former small business owner, I understand that taxes are only part of the equation in deciding whether to locate or expand a business in Michigan.
However, the business community also looks for a talented workforce, good schools, and affordable educational opportunities at our community colleges and universities. They also look at how reliable our infrastructure system is and whether or not our communities have adequate public safety departments.
In an effort to create transparency with all these new tax policies, I recently held a town hall at the Dearborn Centennial Library to help explain how these changes impact our lives. I was pleased to be joined by budget experts, community leaders and several of my colleagues in the Michigan Legislature. All were on hand to help answer questions on how citizens can best prepare for the recently enacted changes.
It is no secret that these new policies create burdens for many Michigan residents, especially our middle-class, working families who are already struggling. However, my democratic colleagues and I are committed to standing up for the people of Michigan and have introduced several pieces of legislation to combat some of these concerning changes.
For example, we have legislation that would repeal the new tax increase on Michigan seniors and legislation that would reinstate the earned income tax credit to the levels it was before it was significantly reduced last year. We also have legislation that will restore unemployment assistant to 26 weeks, the amount that had been available until it was reduced to 20 weeks last year.
I was also proud to introduce legislation to help alleviate the burden being placed on middle-class families as gas prices continue to rise. This bill provides a 50 percent or $100 tax credit, whichever is lower, for gas expenses for a taxpayer making $50,000 or less. It would also provide a 25 percent credit, or up to $75, for total gasoline expenses paid for an individual making between $50,000 and $75,000 and a 10 percent credit, or up to $50, for those making $75,000 to $100,000. To some, it might not be that much money. But for those who are struggling to keep gas in their tanks, it’s at least a start. Ideally it will send a message to the leadership in Lansing that Michigan residents are struggling and need some long-term relief. The more money people can recover under this legislation, the more it can put to use in our local economies.
I encourage readers to follow what is happening in the state Legislature by going to www.legislature.mi.gov. There is also an excellent analysis of the new Michigan Tax structure prepared by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. This valuable resource highlights many of the tax changes that went into effect and helps explain how the most extreme tax shift that our state has witnessed in the past twenty years will impact you and your family. To see the analysis, please go to http://www.crcmich.org/TaxOutline/index.html.
(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, visit his website, house.mi.gov/gdarany.)