LANSING – Democrats in the state House and Senate announced a defining package of bills today to strengthen Michigan’s middle class and reverse one of the largest tax shifts in Michigan history. Called the Blueprint for Michigan’s Families, the bills take aim at stagnant incomes and tax increases that make it difficult to achieve and sustain a middle-class quality of life while coping with the rising costs of living.

“Grand Rapidians are some of the hardest-working people you will ever find, but it’s harder for families to get ahead when their tax burden keeps rising along with the cost of gas and groceries,” said Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “That’s not right, and it’s time we got serious about changing it. Today, we’re presenting a workable plan that will restore balance to our tax code and help Michigan families keep more of the dollars that they earn.”

The Blueprint for Michigan’s Families targets the rising costs of raising a family and paying for college by establishing:

  • A new $400 per-child tax credit for each child age 13 and under in a households with income less than $100,000. 
  • A new dependent care tax credit to help families with working parent(s) offset the cost of child care or caring for an elderly parent.
  • An expansion of the Homestead Property Tax Credit to families making up to $100,000, up from the current limit of $50,000.
  • A senior deduction that exempts the first $2,300 of income from taxation for residents age 65 and older.
  • A College Affordability Tax Credit of up to 50 percent of the amount paid on state and federal higher education loans for any employed Michigan resident.

While plan savings would vary, a family with two kids who owns their own home and has an income less than $100,000 could save as much as $1,500 per year or more.

“We believe that putting money back into the pockets of Michigan’s families is what’s right for Michigan and its economy,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint). “The best way to keep our economy moving forward is to help people achieve their goals of owning a home, raising a family, putting their kids through school and being able to enjoy the retirement they’ve worked so hard for. When more families can join the middle class and stay there, it creates an environment that attracts more talented people to the state — people who will work and spend their money with companies doing business in Michigan.”

The Blueprint for Michigan’s Families is a response to the massive tax shift orchestrated by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has increased taxes on the middle class, seniors and working families by $1.6 billion per year while cutting taxes for corporations by nearly $2 billion. Tax cuts continue to big corporations that don’t need them and conglomerates who send our jobs overseas. Additionally, about 95,000 Michigan businesses no longer pay state taxes on their revenue.

The tax cuts for corporations were sold on the promise that it would increase job growth. However, according to the state of Michigan, the rate of job growth actually dropped by 26 percent between 2010, the year before the tax cuts were made, and 2013. At the same time, annual household incomes in Michigan have declined by more than $12,000 over the last decade — down to a median income of $48,273 in 2013 from $61,551 in 2000, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.

The Blueprint for Michigan’s Families would recoup nearly $1 billion from the more than $2 billion in tax breaks corporations received, including oil companies and those that outsource jobs– and give it back to Michigan’s working and middle-class families.

“Family budgets are stretched thin after years of being told to pay more taxes so that corporations can pay less,” Brinks said. “Those corporate tax breaks haven’t helped working families, but the Blueprint for Michigan’s Families will. I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to support these proposals that will make a real difference to middle-class families throughout the state.”