Sales Tax: It hits the poor harder 2013.02.20

Written by David Green.

There’s lots of talk in Lansing about changes in state taxes, most notably in the matter of maintenance for roads and bridges.

Gov. Rick Snyder made a proposal last year to increase the fuel tax, but that hasn’t been a popular choice. In the governor’s view, those who use the roads the most—those who buy the most gasoline—should contribute the most to maintain the roads.

Drivers are already upset with the high cost of fuel and they don’t want the price at the pump to go up even more.

Our state senator Bruce Caswell told city council members last week that about 95 percent of the people he’s spoken with favor a sales tax increase rather than a fuel tax increase. They would rather pay more for most everything they buy instead of more for gasoline.

We don’t doubt that the senator has heard overwhelming support for the sales tax increase, but we do wonder if the issue was explained clearly in his informal survey, particularly to lower income voters.

It’s very common for people to vote against their best interests. Sometimes it’s a matter of politics; other times it’s a particular “hot-button issue” that grabs their vote. Many lower income people support politicians who work hard to shift the tax burden away from the well-to-do over to the less fortunate.

A sales tax is known as a regressive tax because it’s more of a burden on low income people. An increase in the sales tax means everyone pays more for all the essential items, from clothing and cleaning supplies to vehicles and phone service. The sales tax paid by lower income people for essential items represents a much higher proportion of their wealth than for someone with a higher income.

When it’s time for Michigan residents to decide whether or not the sales tax should go up, we expect the vote will be in the affirmative. On the surface, it sounds better than higher gas prices, but underneath it won’t be the best for everyone.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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