Monday, November 01, 2010

WSU Study: Solid Majority of Michigan Adults Favor Graduated Income Tax, Oppose Budget Cuts

It's too bad that hyper-partisan screeching over taxes has precluded any sort of thoughtful conversation on the issue. It turns out that - once again - we have a study that shows a solid majority of Michigan citizens prefer a graduated income tax and are opposed to budget cuts to critical services.

Nearly two-thirds of Michigan adults favor shifting away from the state's current flat income tax to a graduated income tax plan, while just under a third support raising Michigan's current flat income tax rate.

The study was done by Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies. It showed 64.3 percent favor shifting away from the state's current flat income tax to a graduated income tax plan. It also showed 32.6 percent support raising Michigan's current flat income tax rate.

As numerous polls have told us in the past, let it be heard again: Michigan citizens do NOT want a cuts-only budget, and they prefer a balance that includes tax increases. Yes, tax increases.

More than two-thirds of Michigan residents surveyed (67.3 percent) want the state budget balanced using spending cuts coupled with tax and fee increases.

Only about a fourth (26.2 percent) want Michigan's budget balanced via spending cuts alone.

And if you want to get specific about the proposed cuts...

When asked what areas of Michigan's budget they want to see cut, the majority of residents oppose budget cuts to public services. Three-fourths of residents opposed spending cuts to K-12 education (75.6 percent), about two-thirds were opposed to funding cuts affecting road maintenance and construction (64.1 percent), mental health services (63.6 percent), or higher education (63.6 percent). Slightly smaller majorities opposed cuts to Medicaid services (60.9 percent), public safety and corrections (58.9 percent), and economic development (58.5 percent). In contrast, less than half of those surveyed were opposed to budget cuts affecting public assistance (45.9 percent).

How many polls will it take until Republicans respect the wishes of Michigan's citizens? The indication at this time is they never will. Rick Snyder is opposed to a graduated income tax, opposed to taxes on services, has promised to make budget deficit even deeper with more tax cuts and no way to pay for them (while he is promising more spending) - even though economists and business leaders have repeatedly warned the state that we can't keep cutting and expect prosperity. And, the truth is, we are paying less in taxes now than we have in decades. MSU economic professor Charles Ballard:

We are, in fact, paying a lot less in taxes than we once did. “I am not suggesting a radical increase in taxes in Michigan. “[But] the percentage of income that is paid in taxes in Michigan is lower now than it has been in decades. We could have a substantial increase in tax levels and still be well below the tax levels of 30 or even 10 years ago,” he writes.

Funny how you don't hear that mentioned in any of the ads this year. Michigan is a already a low-tax state: The corporate tax burden fell from 12th in 1989 to 39th in 2007, "the largest drop in tax burden among all the states", and personal taxes went from the "16th highest state and local tax burden per person a decade ago to 30th". Michigan's state business tax climate is rated #17 in the nation again this year by the Tax Foundation, and they are not what you would call progressive thinkers by any stretch of the imagination.

We've already had "more tax cuts", and they obviously are not the be-all, end-all of economic development. The majority of Michigan citizens seem to understand that as well, and are not adverse to paying for critical services.

You would never know it from those who seek to cut us down even further.