Friday, January 25, 2008

Tax and spend outlook for 2008

"The Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it.  If it keeps moving, regulate it.  If it stops moving, subsidize it." --Ronald Reagan
"I will never raise taxes again." --Jennifer Granholm
As we move into another round of budget negotiations, starting with the Governor's State of the State Address next Tuesday, the two quotes above will likely come into play. What does the future hold for the taxpayers, businesses and families of Michigan?

Are the Democrats Finished Asking for More of Your Money?

Last year the legislature successfully raised your taxes by about $1.5 billion. Even as jobs continued to leave the state and the private sector contracted, the government grew. Government only grows when it takes more money out of the private economy; that is exactly what happened in 2007.
An optimist might say, well, at least the government will stop growing for the next three years because the Governor did promise not to raise taxes again, right? I am an optimist, but I am not saying that.  The question you must ask is, "What is the definition of 'tax increase?'"
Last year, when the Democrats pushed to increase the income tax from 3.9% to 4.35%, they did not call it an 'increase', they called it a 'restoration' of the income tax back towards its 'original' level. If that is the case then they could still call for a 'restoration' all the way back up to 4.6%.
And then there is the question of fees. Are fees just another form of taxation? Will the Governor call for new fees this year? 2007 gave us many examples of the creativity of Democrats when it comes to assessing fees. You have to give them credit for finding so many new ways to separate you from your hard-earned dollars.  Here are just some examples of the bills introduced last year, many of which have already been signed into law (red = already passed the House or signed by the Governor):

  • 4146 - Licensing fee for tanning facilities

  • 4216 - Licensing fee for boiler operators

  • 4221 - Disposal fees for solid waste

  • 4261 - Assessment for tourism promotion

  • 4501 - Increase in court fees

  • 4573 - Licensing fee for late bar hours

  • 4577 - Increase in vehicle registration fees

  • 4582 - Increase in the register of deeds copying fee

  • 4591 - Certification fee for teachers

  • 4624 - Increase in hunting and fishing license fees

  • 4668 - Fingerprinting fees

  • 4669 - Increase vote recount deposit fee

  • 4840 - Licensing fee for homes for the aged

  • 4843 - Licensing fees for plumbers

  • 4844 - Licensing fees for electricians

  • 4846 - Licensing fees for mechanical contractors

  • 4848 - Licensing fees for construction

  • 4849 - Licensing fees for pesticide applicators

  • 4860 - Licensing fees for pet shop owners

  • 4861 - Fees for appellate courts

  • 4862 - Fees for nursery stock

  • 4863 - Licensing fees for riding stables

  • 4864 - Licensing fees for livestock operations

  • 4865 - Licensing fees for security traders

  • 4866 - Licensing fees for corporations

  • 4946 - Licensing fees for professional geologists

  • 4971 - Permit fees for smoking restaurants

  • 5025 - Inspection fees for landscapers

  • 5036 - Fees for fire inspections  

  • 5154 - Licensing fees for hemodialysis technicians

  • 5242 - Environmental fees

  • 5257 - Filing fees for non-profit corporations

  • 5258 - Filing fees for LLCs

These are just some of the fee bills introduced in 2007. Now that the Governor has uttered her "read my lips" pledge, you can only expect to see more such legislation introduced in 2008. It looks as if the Democrats in Lansing have moved out of phase one, (if it moves, tax it) into phase two, (if it slows down, regulate it). With any luck, by 2009, the Governor can move into phase three.  Then, by the end of 2010, we can say we have been "blown away!"

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