“I did not have sex with that woman” – Pres B.J. Clinton
“If you like your plan you can keep it.” Pres. B.O.
“That’s ridiculous. It’s nonsense and you know it.” – Then Gubernatorial Candidate Gretchen Whitmer responding to a comment that she will raises taxes if elected governor during the Grand Rapids WOOD debate last year.
If you currently pay $100 per month in sales tax, which is the average for median income households in Michigan, you’ll pay an extra $1 per month. Because the sales tax is regressive — it falls disproportionately on the poor — Proposal 1 evens the playing field by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which was cut in 2011.
The fuel tax changes will result in an additional 2 to 10 cents per gallon, depending on gas prices. Some of these costs will surely be offset by reduced damage to vehicles as the roads are improved.
Governor Snyder’s FY 2015 Executive Budget projects that Michigan’s current 6% sales tax will collect $ 7.89 billion in FY 2015 on $ 131.5 billion in taxable products. This is $ 797 per year, per Michigan resident. The U.S. Census says that the average Michigan household is composed of 2.53 persons. Thus the current 6% sales tax is projected to collect $ 2,016 per household in FY 2015, or $ 168 per household, per month. Not $ 100 per month.
Looking at FY 2015 as if Proposal 2015-01 was in effect, the 7% sales tax would collect $ 8.5 billion on $ 121 billion in taxable products. Keep in mind that road fuel will no longer be subject to the sales tax, so we have to back out S 10.2 billion in formerly taxable fuel sales on just over 4 billion gallons in road fuel. This is $ 855 per year, per person. Thus the proposed 7 % sales tax would collect $ 2,165 per household in FY 2015, or $ 180 per household, per month.
So the difference is $ 12 per month, per Michigan household. Not MLive’s $ 1 per month fantasy factoid.
Sales Tax Retention on Off-Road Fuel Will Trigger Pandemonium in Michigan's Fuel Distribution Network
Let’s walk through the numbers and consequences of the most disastrous aspect of Proposal 2015-01: the retention of the sales tax on fuels used almost everywhere but on the roads. Most disastrous because this will be enshrined in our Constitution if Proposal 2015-01 passes. No act of our Legislature or sleight of hand by our Governor can correct the Michigan Constitution if Proposal 2015-01 passes. They can only decide to impose astronomical costs on the petroleum distribution network, create a lot of new criminals, spawn a black market in fuels, forego sales tax revenues, or some combination thereof. The Michigan Constitution gets its first intractable dilemma.
HCJR UU contains the actual language amending the Michigan Constitution. Sales and use tax rates go from 6% to 7%, and the sales tax is no longer permitted on “gasoline or diesel fuel used to operate a motor vehicle on the public roads or highways of this state”. So the plain language of HCJR UU authorizes continued sales tax collection on all gasoline and diesel oil which is not used to operate a motor vehicle on the public roads or highways of this state, at the new 7% rate.
This 7% ‘ORV’ fuel sales tax will be over and above the motor vehicle fuel tax, which continues to be applied to recreational off-road vehicle and marine fuels as a ‘privilege tax’ under PA 451 of 1994. To make things even more confusing for fuel suppliers and consumers, there will be a third category of fuel subject to the sales tax, but not the motor vehicle or privilege tax: fuel used industrially, for construction, for farming, for lawn care, generators, and other miscellaneous purposes.
Less noticed, the 7% sales tax is also authorized on fuels other than gasoline and diesel oil used to operate vehicles on the public roads or highways of this state. This is quite a surprise since PA 468 of 2014, the motor vehicles fuels tax law of the road tax package, goes to great lengths to bring alternate transportation fuels such as liquid or compressed natural gas and lighter alternative petroleum products (LPG, propane, etc.) into the general road fuels tax regimen. This is significant; the U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that these alternate transportation fuels currently account for about 6% of ground vehicle propulsion on the public roads in 2009 and their usage is increasing sharply. The sales tax liability on these ‘green fuels’ will put them at a serious economic disadvantage to gasoline and diesel fuel. But this did not deter the Sierra Club and their fellow environmental wackos from endorsing Proposal 2015-01. David Holtz and the Michigan Sierra Club board would appear to have a ‘Common Core’ reading comprehension level.
Reflex Conditioning Drives Uncontrolled Government Spending
The brilliant, Nobel Prize winning physiologist Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov demonstrated that you could condition a dog to salivate by sounding a metronome. All he had to do was sound the metronome when putting out food for his dogs. It did not take long for his dogs to associate the sound of the metronome with food. Then he no longer even had to put food out to get the dogs to salivate; he only had to sound the metronome.
Today, inferior rank politicians have been conditioned to salivate when a financial grant is offered by superior rank politicians. The only problem with these grants of largess is that they always come with caveats, and usually require matching funds. These restrictions are a deliberate – and successful – effort to frustrate all efforts to manage government expenditures.
Mass Transit Skims $ 120 Million from Proposal 2015-01 Road Work Funds
Ever hear of the Michigan Comprehensive Transportation Fund? Ten cents of every Michigan fuel tax dollar gets diverted to this mass transportation slush fund. It is only just behind the sales tax as a diversion of your current fuel tax dollars from Michigan’s roads.
All motor vehicle fuel taxes collected in the State of Michigan are first deposited into the Michigan Transportation Fund. Then MCL 247.660 (1)(f) (Public Act 51 of 1951) dictates that 10% of the funds deposited in the Michigan Transportation Fund be immediately transferred to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund. The amended version of MCL 247.660 you are being offered in Proposal 2015-01 has the very same section (1)(f), making the same 10% immediate diversion.
So the $ 1.2 billion that Proposal 2015-01 supporters are promising you for road work is actually only $ 1.08 billion. Kirk T. Steudle, P.E. gets a whole new stash to maintain and expand his stable of rotting train cars, $ 120 million that cannot be spent on the roads by law. $ 120 million that gets skimmed from the $ 1.2 billion you are being promised for the roads. And no, it is not skimmed from the $ 800 million that Proposal 2015-01 dedicates to the Democratic base.
Now you now know how Michigan political math works in the age of Common Core. Pay $ 2 billion for roads, get $ 1 billion in road work.
Fix Planned to Correct Sales Tax Problem in Roads Plan
The administration of Governor Rick Snyder will seek legislation to correct a potential problem in the road funding plan that as written would lift the sales tax off of gasoline only for motor vehicles, but not for boats, snowmobiles and other non-road purposes like generators and gasoline-powered equipment.
As currently constructed, that would create a mess for retailers who theoretically would have to determine whether or not to charge the sales tax and even ask customers filling up a gasoline can what the intended use of the purchase is. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan, as part of a broad analysis it is conducting on the road funding plan, noted the quirk and provided the information to Gongwer News Service.
It will be interesting to see how Governor Snyder fixes this. Purchasing gasoline for your boat or ORV could become a really entertaining bureaucratic exercise. Ready for the ‘Gasoline Police’? Think of the new forms to be filled out.
CRCoM is a collection of the usual corporate interests orbiting Michigan government. Not certain why they would have ratted out this bungle to Gongwer, but it does suggest a certain degree of unease among the establishment.
News stories on the Michigan road tax proposal are replete with compelling, eye popping factoids about the costs poor roads impose on Michigan drivers. These factoids are so compelling that our colorless Governor cites them to sway voters in the upcoming sales tax proposal debate. Some examples:
An inadequate transportation system costs Michigan residents a total of $7.7 billion every year
Driving on rough roads costs Michigan motorists a total of $2.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs
Driving on rough roads costs the average Detroit urban area motorist $536 annually in extra vehicle operating costs
Driving on rough roads costs the average Michigan motorist $357 annually in extra vehicle operating costs
You are expected to conclude that a 16.67% sales tax increase is a just trifle to escape these ghastly financial burdens. These factoids are always attributed to “TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation research organization”. Sounds like an independent, credible source – right? The adjectives ‘nonprofit’ and ‘research’ give you a high level of confidence in their pronouncements? Perhaps you should dig a little deeper than our conniving politicians and their lazy media scribes. The TRIP report they are mining for these factoids is: MI_Transportation_By_The_Numbers_TRIP_Report_Jan_2014