My Democratic colleagues and I have been urging Republican leaders to work with us to find a bipartisan solution to fix our roads and bridges since I took office in 2010.
While past Republican leadership has been willing to meet with us to find a solution, the current Republican leadership has not. Instead of working to find a bipartisan solution, House Republicans adjourned last Wednesday and left for a second summer vacation.
The most difficult hurdle in finding a solution to fix our roads is the fact that many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle know that low- and middle-income families are getting hit from every angle with declining income, reduced benefits, rising costs and disproportionately higher taxes.
Under current law, low- and middle-income families — those making $88,000 a year or less — contribute nearly twice as much of their income in state and local taxes as do those in the top 1 percent.
I haven’t found a single person who believes this is a fair way to distribute our tax burden.
None of my colleagues, on either side of the aisle, want to raise taxes on low- and middle-income families who are already doing more than their fair share, which is why I introduced legislation to enact a graduated income tax, which would cut taxes for 95 percent of Michigan families and would ask everyone to contribute an equal share of their income in state and local taxes.
Under my plan, a family of four making less than $176,000 would receive a tax cut that would reach as high as $600 per year for middle-income families.
More than 4.4 million filers would receive an $830 million tax cut to increase demand, stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Additionally, 89 percent of small business owners would receive a tax cut. It’s time to help small business owners who don’t benefit from special-interest deals like the MEGA business tax credits.
The top 5 percent would contribute their equal share, generating up to $760 million in new revenue to:
1. Help restore our crumbling roads and bridges
2. Provide our children with the education they need to realize their fullest potential
3. Lower tuition rates to ensure college graduates aren’t burdened by unimaginable debt
Thirty-three other states and the federal government have a graduated income tax, including Minnesota, which raised its top income tax rate in 2013 and saw an increase of residents earning over $1 million per year. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is 3.6 percent and its median household earns $9,000 a year more than Michigan’s.
There is no reason a police officer or a small business owner making $60,000 a year should contribute nearly twice as much of their income as a billionaire, but that is how our tax system works, for now.
My plan is the only way we can actually fix our roads and give low- and middle-income families the help they need. If you couple this plan with a small increase in user fees, we would be driving on quality roads and the vast majority of Michigan families would still receive a tax cut.
Despite this reality, the current political climate in Lansing will not allow a hearing for my equitable tax plan.