Inside and outside of Oakland

GOP advocates tax cut; Dems more education funding

  The estimates for state revenues came in higher than expected Monday and conservative Republicans lost no time suggesting how the higher-than-expected revenues should be used.

  State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, says part of it should be used to lower the state's 4.35 percent income tax.
  McMillin says dropping the state income tax rate to 4.25 percent starting Oct. 1 would reduce revenue by $200 million.
  A reduction in the state's income tax rate proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder was delayed in legislation finally approved last week in Lansing.
  “If Lansing seems interested in spending some of this estimated additional revenue, then I believe a significant portion of it should be used to drop the personal income tax rate from 4.35 percent to 4.25 percent starting Oct. 1 of this year,” McMillin said.
  Legislation approved last week also cut funding for public education and Democrats suggest the improving state revenues be used to restore those cuts.
  “The money is there and we’re calling on Gov. Snyder to commit to investing it in our children’s education,” said state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. “There is simply no excuse for allowing these draconian cuts to our schools to go through while those dollars are sitting on the table.”
  Democrats also announced the release of a new video that documents the significant impact they claim that state budget cuts have had on public schools in recent years and how future cuts would jeopardize the ability to fundamental academic programs.
  The five-minute video, titled “Michigan’s Economic Crisis,” is available online on YouTube.
Monday's revenue estimating conference projects the state will take in $429 million more this fiscal year than the last revenue conference forecast in January.
  The state's fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
  The governor's office expected as early as last Friday that the state's revenue estimates would improve.
Michigan Budget Director John Nixon sent out a statement Friday urging lawmakers not to "kick the can down the road once again."
  “Our recommended budget not only gets us truly balanced in 2012, but in 2013 as well," Nixon said. "As I’ve said before, remaining committed to this work and principles would place Michigan in one of the strongest financial positions of any state in the country that will pay dividends in both the short and long-term.
  "Decisions to build the 2012 budget with any 2011 surplus would jeopardize that strong position, and only serve to delay needed decisions by another year," he said. "We must resist the urge to kick the can down the road once again.”
  In addition to cuts in public education, controversial legislation approved by the House and Senate last week cuts taxes for Michigan businesses but taxes pensions and gets rid of many tax exemptions.

Contact Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, or follow him on Twitter @crummc and on Facebook.

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