New Year, New Opportunities

Over the past three years, Michigan has charted a new course towards prosperity for all of our citizens.  Michigan is growing again. Income is up. Private sector job growth is the 4th highest in the nation. The unemployment rate is at 8.8 percent, down from 14.2 percent during the “lost decade.” We have added over 124,000 jobs since then. If our workforce would have remained constant with the January 2011 levels, our unemployment rate would actually be 8.3 percent. More people are staying in our state. More families are staying together.

To get a true measure of the vitality of our economy, we need to look beyond the unemployment rate.  How do we really know more of us are earning a decent living in the workforce?  Tax revenue. 

State tax revenue alone is up over $1.2B since FY12 without raising tax rates.  It is simple, more people working results in more people generating income and buying goods. This spending translates into more state revenue generated via income and sales taxes. The key question is: what do we do next?

We are told that we need a minimum $1.2B investment to keep our roads from degrading further.  There are persistent demands for more money for schools so that we can cover the escalating costs of school employee pension plans. What about more money to local governments to cover the escalating healthcare costs for police and firefighters? 

Do you want more money for roads, schools, police and firefighters? Implement pro-growth policies that return money back to those who know how to use money most effectively– “We the People.” In a nutshell, that translates to a state government that “taxes less” and “spends less.”  

On the state tax policy front, we can start by eliminating the Senior Pension Tax, eliminating progressive Homestead Property Tax provisions, restoring charitable tax deductions, and making a significant cut to our income tax. On the spending front, we should be reducing spending on services not explicitly required in the Michigan Constitution. A 5 percent reduction in state spending on non-essential services would free up over $1B for higher priority expenditures like roads, schools, police and firefighters. We can cut taxes and still free up funding for essential services.

There are ten million residents in Michigan. The transparency legislation that I introduced with Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, which is now law, empowers all citizens with information on how our state government is spending your tax dollars. Ten million accountants can help us trim the state budget to focus on the services demanded by “we the people” rather than special interest groups. 

Thanks to our legislation, you can download a rollup of each state agency’s spending plan for FY13 at TenMillionAccountants.com. If you would like to become a citizen accountant, please send your top 5 spending reduction suggestions from the FY13 State of Michigan Spending Plans spreadsheet to my office at senpcolbeck@senate.michigan.gov.

As we commence state budget deliberations for FY15, we need to remind ourselves that it is our nation’s track record of limited government that has yielded unlimited opportunities for our citizens to pursue the American Dream.

The 7th State Senate District is located in Wayne county and includes: Belleville city, Brownstown Twp, Canton Twp, Flat Rock city, Gibraltar city, Grosse Ile Twp, Huron Twp, Northville city (part), Northville Twp, Plymouth city, Plymouth Twp, Rockwood city, Sumpter Twp, Trenton city, Van Buren Twp and Woodhaven city.

Posted in Editorials, Uncategorized.