He's been called the Taxpayer's Hero by the Michigan Taxpayers Association. Former State Representative Tom McMillin is truly a hero for hard-working Michigan citizens. McMillin is now challenging Michigan's Bureau of Election to adopt clear and concise language for the upcoming May 5th ballot proposal, which among other things would increase Michigan's sales tax by 16.7%.
A poll was recently conducted about the Snyder Tax Increase. The results of the poll are posted on our website. The poll results clearly indicated that informed voters were against the Snyder Tax Increase, while uninformed voters were for it. Here is an excerpt from the poll:
But after hearing details of the complex plan, the results gets flipped, with only 38% saying they would vote “yes" and 47% saying they would vote 'no." The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
(ROG analysis: Here is evidence that the more people know the less they like the Snyder Tax. We need your help to inform the public if we are going to keep Governor Snyder from dipping into your wallet. Read our analysis and then share it with your friends. Once people understand that a large portion of this tax hike goes for non-road related spending they will likely vote NO. You need to remind people that Lansing needs to fix the roads, not increase welfare payments.
There are many organizations lining up in opposition to the Snyder Tax Increase. Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan is working with former State Representative Tom McMillin to help inform voters of the details of the Snyder Tax Increase. Make no mistake; all of the Snyder Tax Increase is not going to fix our roads.
In his letter below, McMillin urges the Bureau of Elections to use ballot language which accurately reflects the scope of this massively complex tax hike.
Please share this widely with your friends and neighbors. Then select one point from McMillin’s letter and write a letter to the editor of your local paper. We need you to educate the uninformed public. The evidence is clear, the more people know about this complex tax hike the less likely they are to vote for it.
Do I sound like a broken record in urging you to write a letter to the editor? You are darn right! We need patriots who are going to deliver our message to those outside of our movement. Attending TEA Party meetings is not enough to deliver our message to those who need to hear it. Remember, letters to the editor are the third most widely read section of the newspaper. Only the comics and the sports section attract more readers.
Send us a copy of your letter and we’ll post it on our website.
Now, here is McMillin’s letter to the Bureau of Elections.
Christopher Thomas, Director of Elections
Bureau of Elections
430 West Allegan St
Lansing, MI 48933
Dear Director Thomas:
Thank you for taking the time to review the language proposed below for the May 5 ballot initiative to adopt House Joint Resolution UU of the 97th Legislature.
I'm honored to represent Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan, an organization of Michigan citizens who have two concerns with the proposal: the merits of the proposal itself, and the manner in which the proposal is presented to voters.
The state legislature passed ten bills, signed into law by the Governor, that, without uncertainty, go into effect if and only if the constitutional amendment is adopted by the voters. Therefore, the ballot proposal not only adopts the constitutional amendment, but puts into effect these ten laws or rejects them as if they were never made.
It is obvious that, on general principles of law and reason, when legislation becomes law if and only if approved by a ballot question put to voters, said legislation is the subject of the ballot question.
Michigan election law requires that a question "shall be worded so as to apprise the voters of the subject matter of the proposal or issue." It is obvious that, on general principles of law and reason, when a ballot question addresses multiple subjects, voters must be apprised of each and every subject so as to fully understand what it is they are voting for.
Any proposed ballot language must therefore apprise voters of the subject of each of the ten laws that will become active if and only if the amendment is approved by the voters.
HB 4251 (Public Act 472 of 2014), which establishes that if a township contributes 50 percent or more to the cost of a road project and certain other conditions apply, it can require the county road commission contract for the work through competitive bidding (3 pages);
HB 4539 (Public Act 467 of 2014), which raises the state sales tax to 7% (5 pages);
HB 4630 (Public Act 470 of 2014), which raises vehicle registration taxes and makes them no longer federally tax-deductible (7 pages);
HB 5167 (Public Act 471 of 2014), which requires road agencies to seek competitive bids for road maintenance projects greater than $100,000, unless they "affirm" a different system would serve the public interest better, and requires the Department of Transportation to develop a "performance based" road project rating system, and allocate 20 percent of funds to local agencies based on its cost/benefit criteria (3 pages);
HB 5460 (Public Act 473 of 2014), which expands to local road agencies a requirement to warranties from contractors for road construction and preservation projects valued at more than $1 million and requires the Department of Transportation to give extra assistance (possibly including grants and loans) to "disadvantaged" businesses that bid on state funded road projects, and to take other steps to steer more state-funded road work to such firms, including annual consultations with certain ethnic- and race-based organizations (16 pages)
HB 5477 (Public Act 468 of 2014), which replaces the per-gallon fuel tax with a higher wholesale tax (11 pages);
HB 5492 (Public Act 474 of 2014), which earmarks some state use taxes to roads (4 pages);
HB 5493 (Public Act 475 of 2014), which replaces the per-gallon fuel tax on interstate truckers with a wholesale tax (5 pages);
SB 80 (Public Act 476 of 2014), which appropriates an additional $40 million for reading programs and increases certain school expense requirements (7 pages),
SB 847 (Public Act 469 of 2014), which increases the state Earned Income Tax Credit (3 pages).
By the count of 64 pages of fine print, it's clear that even these summaries are a gross oversimplification of ten bills that will or will not become law according the response to the ballot question. And this does not include the amendment itself.
Each of these laws was carefully worded to have specific legal meaning that affects all citizens of Michigan.
It is the position of Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan that state law requires voters be informed of each and every subject addressed by each of the laws that take effect if and only if the proposal passes, as well as the direct effect of the constitutional amendment itself. State officials have the legal and moral obligation to present a true and complete statement of the proposal's effect to voters.
It would be dishonest to put to voters a question to adopt a constitutional amendment without disclosing each of ten additional laws that have been enacted, signed by the governor, and will for a certainty go into effect if and only if the proposal is adopted--some that in fact await the amendment needed to make them constitutional in the first place.
It would be especially (and audaciously) dishonest to make no mention that one of these laws replaces a tax repealed by the amendment with a highly similar substitute tax. To lead voters to believe that a tax would be repealed when in fact it would be replaced with a higher tax is deception of the highest degree.
Yet that is what was proposed by House Concurrent Resolution Number 39 of 2014, which I urge you to disregard entirely from consideration for ballot language.
House Concurrent Resolution Number 39 of 2014 recommends potential ballot language for the Board of State Canvassers to consider. The proposed title reads: " A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO ELIMINATE SALES AND USE TAXES ON GASOLINE AND DIESEL FUEL, ALLOW AN INCREASE IN THE SALES TAX RATE, DEDICATE REVENUE FOR SCHOOL AID, REVISE ELIGIBLE SCHOOL AID USES."
The title makes no mention of the ten laws that are activated upon passage of the amendment. It makes no mention of PA 468, which replaces the sales and use taxes on gasoline and diesel with a higher wholesale tax, nor PA 467, which in fact raises the state sales tax to the 7% level that would be allowed by the constitutional amendment. It makes no mention of the Earned Income Tax Credit, nor registration taxes, nor competitive bidding on county road projects.
The title mentions only the constitutional amendment and the changes it makes to the state constitution.
A factually accurate title that describes the entire subject matter would read:
"A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION AND ACTIVATE TEN LAWS THAT WOULD RAISE THE STATE SALES TAX, REPLACE THE RETAIL GAS TAX WITH A WHOLESALE GAS TAX, RAISE AND CHANGE THE NATURE OF VEHICLE REGISTRATION TAXES, INCREASE THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT, DEDICATE CERTAIN TAX REVENUE FOR ROADS AND SCHOOLS, ALLOW COUNTIES TO REQUIRE ROAD COMMISSIONS CONTRACT FOR PROJECTS WITH COMPETITIVE BIDDING IN CERTAIN CONDITIONS, REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO GIVE EXTRA ASSISTANCE TO DISADVANTAGED BUSINESSES AND TAKE OTHER STEPS TO STEER MORE STATE-FUNDED ROAD WORK TO SUCH FIRMS, REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO DEVELOP A PERFORMANCE-BASED ROAD PROJECT RATING SYSTEM, AND REVISE ELIGIBLE SCHOOL AID USES."
House Concurrent Resolution Number 39 of 2014 recommends the statement of purpose read:
"The proposed constitutional amendment would:
Eliminate all sales or use taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel used in motor vehicles operated on public roads or highways beginning on October 1, 2015;
Allow an increase in the sales tax rate from 6 percent to 7 percent;
Activate other laws dedicating additional revenue for transportation purposes, including repair of roads, streets, and bridges;
Require state funds for school aid to be used exclusively for financial assistance for public school districts, community colleges, and career and technical education and related scholarships; and
Dedicate a portion of use tax revenue for school aid purposes."
Once again, numerous laws activated by the proposal are not mentioned. In fact, the only law mentioned is Public Act 474 -- dedicating additional revenue for transportation purposes.
Once again, the proposed text notes the elimination of the gas taxes without mentioning that they are replaced with higher taxes to identical effect. To the citizens of Michigan, it's immaterial which tax needed a constitutional amendment to be repealed or levied and which did not.
And the state sales tax is said to merely be "allowed" to be raised to from 6% to 7%, as if there was not already a law standing by, awaiting the constitutional authority to be lawful and activated by this very proposal!
A factually accurate title that describes the purposes of entire subject matter would read:
"The proposed constitutional amendment and ten activated laws would:
Raise the state sales tax from 6% to 7%;
Replace present gas taxes with similar higher taxes;
Raise and make no longer federally tax-deductible vehicle registration taxes;
Earmark certain revenue for road and school funds;
Require the Department of Transportation give extra assistance to disadvantaged businesses and take steps to assist disadvantaged businesses with obtaining road contracts;
Encourage competitive bidding for road contracts in certain conditions;
Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit;
Require the Department of Transportation develop a performance-based road project rating system; and
Appropriate $40 million for reading programs."
This would, in 100 words, reasonably represent what the proposal will actually do in a manner understandable to voters.
Finally, since it is absurd that legislation should be passed into law without the lawmakers (in this case, the taxpayers) being able to read the legislation in its entirety, voters should be instructed that a complete copies of HJR UU and Public Acts 467 through 476 of 2014 are available at each polling location for their review, and election officials instructed to make such materials available.
I urge the Bureau of Elections to adopt ballot language that factually present the voters with all of the major legislative provisions that go into effect if and only if the proposal is adopted by voters. This is the truth the voters need to make an informed decision on May 5th.
Rep. Tom McMillin (ret.)
CC: Michigan Board of State Canvassers