Most of These Republicans Ran On Low Taxes; But All Voted to Keep Them High

For some, campaign trail rhetoric doesn’t match the voting record

Republican representatives Jason Sheppard, Chris Afendoulis, Julie Calley, Kathy Crawford, Daniela Garcia, Larry Inman, Jim Lilly, Dave Maturen, Michael McCready, Brett Roberts, Dave Pagel, Scott VanSingel.

All House Democrats except one joined 12 Republicans to defeat a bill that would have slightly lowered Michigan’s income tax rate. A review of their campaign record shows that most of the GOP members ran on a record of lower taxes and a smaller state government.

In 2007, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democrats in the Michigan Legislature — with the help of a few Republicans — pushed through an 11.5 percent income tax hike in the early hours of the morning on a deadline. At the time, the state was running a projected budget deficit and the tax hike was pitched as a “temporary” measure to avoid the stoppage of government services. The tax was projected to decline from 4.35 percent back to 3.9 percent.

But it never happened. Instead of allowing the tax to be repealed by 2015, Republicans voted to cancel the rollback after allowing the rate to decline to 4.25 percent.

Since 2010, Michigan’s state budget increased by nearly $6 billion – more than twice the rate of inflation. The growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The tax cut was projected to cut $195 million from this increasing budget in year one and about $800 million per year over the next few years. Michigan’s budget today is at an all-time high.

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Here is a review of what the 12 Republicans who voted against the tax cut said when campaigning for office (if notable) and the statements they made after voting to keep the income tax higher.

Jason Sheppard, Temperance

On the campaign trail: “I will never be in favor of a tax increase. When the state is looking to balance a budget, it is time to rein in spending instead of taxing the citizens more to do it. After seeing a nearly billion-dollar surplus, which is a great sign of a thriving Michigan, we should look to give back to those that gave in the first place to achieve this goal. [I]t’s time to relieve some of the burden put on our citizens and lower the individual income tax rate across the board.”

After voting against the tax decrease: "After much thought, I voted no on a bill that would have placed that state's budget in peril. My decision was based on the lack of details for the plan, as well as the speed at which the bill was moved."

Dave Pagel, Berrien Springs

On the campaign trail: “The best government is the smallest and most efficient government that can get the job done. … I have always believed that we can spend a little less than we receive. … I have worked to … [roll] back the income tax to 3.9% saving taxpayers $2.8 billion ... These are your tax dollars and it is critically important that elected officials remember that first and foremost.”

After voting against the tax decrease: “We weren’t identifying any specific cuts, which we know are going to have to take place if we make these changes. I think the conservative approach, when we have a little bit of money short term would be to put a little more into roads, which sure need it, or pay down our debt.”

Scott VanSingel, Grant

On the campaign trail: Checked on a questionnaire that income taxes are "too high" and said, "Of all the taxes which could be lowered as as our economy improves, this is near the top." Also said, “One of the reasons for our nation’s great economic prosperity is the free market system. It has allowed individuals to make choices for themselves in order to use their talents and resources to the fullest extent possible. Excessive taxes and regulations limit an individual’s ability to make these choices and they hamper economic growth.”

After voting against the tax decrease: “As a strong fiscal conservative, I understand the importance of lowering taxes for hardworking Michigan families, however, I voted against this tax repeal because it would have created a tremendous budget shortfall.”

Chris Afendoulis, Grand Rapids Township

On the campaign trail: "As a CPA … I firmly believe that there are always opportunities to reduce the cost of doing business. Government should be no different. The state needs to continuously work to reduce the overall cost of government by evaluating programs for effectiveness and always working to lower the cost of delivering services. I saw this first hand in my own Township, where we balanced our budget, had no debt and have not seen an increase in taxes in 19 years while continuing to provide and improve upon the services our residents need."

After voting against the tax decrease: “In the end, as a CPA and fiscal conservative, I simply could not support this bill. However, I commit that I will work to find the resources to give tax relief to workers across the state moving forward. I am confident that we will have an opportunity to get tax relief right in this term.”

Dave Maturen, Vicksburg

On the campaign trail: “Requiring sensible regulatory reforms, ensuring efficient and effective delivery of governmental services and keeping taxes low to allow businesses to reinvest in equipment and technology and families to keep more of their had earned dollars to spend on their priorities, will all aid in achieving [the goal of making Michigan ‘a magnet for job creation’].”

After voting against the tax decrease: None.

Michael McCready, Bloomfield Hills

On the campaign trail: “We should never spend more than we take in and we cannot put off making the tough decisions when spending cuts are needed. …. Taxes need to be low and fair to everyone across the board.”

After voting against the tax decrease: None.

Brett Roberts, Eaton Township

On the campaign trail: “I want a prosperous economy and durable roads and bridges without forcing the whole bill on Michigan's taxpayers. … We need to encourage small businesses to bring employment into our communities by keeping regulations and taxes reasonable and offering incentives.”

After voting against the tax decrease: “Without a list of budget areas that would need to be cut under this plan, I’m not comfortable voting for it. Creating a $1.1 billion shortfall in the state’s budget threatens local schools, fire services, police services, and municipal revenue sharing. These are not services that our communities can go without. Impulsively voting on this measure without knowing its effect on the budget is irresponsible and reckless.”

Kathy Crawford, Novi

On the campaign trail: Checked a questionnaire saying that income taxes are "too high."

After voting against the tax decrease: None.

Jim Lilly, Park Township

On the campaign trail: Checked a questionnaire saying that income taxes are "too high" and said Michigan "should be in the top 10 personal tax rate climates in the country," which means lower taxes.

After voting against the tax decrease: Lilly and Garcia released a joint statement saying that the income tax cut has “a significant negative fiscal impact” on the state budget and is “irresponsible.” The representatives said they support other bills related to tax relief that have passed in recent years.

Daniela Garcia, Holland

On the campaign trail: No position of note.

After voting against the tax decrease: Lilly and Garcia released a joint statement saying that the income tax cut has “a significant negative fiscal impact” on the state budget and is “irresponsible.” The representatives said they support other bills related to tax relief that have passed in recent years.

Larry Inman, Williamsburg

On the campaign trail: Checked on a questionnaire that income taxes were neither too high nor too low.

After voting against the tax decrease: “[The bill] has a significant negative fiscal impact to Michigan’s budget and I believe that it is irresponsible to pass legislation without telling the taxpayers how it will impact the services you currently receive.”

Julie Calley, Portland

On the campaign trail: Did not commit to lowering the income tax rate, but said she would like to look at budget cuts and replacements that would allow lower taxes.

After voting against the tax decrease: In a statement to Michigan Capitol Confidential, said, “I agree with low taxation, and I would like to see us move in the direction of restoring the former income tax rate of 3.9 percent. However, the road funding package (passed last term) created some significant budget constraints in the upcoming years. ... My take on the legislation was that I could not pass a tax cut now and proclaim myself a hero, only to force Michigan to deal with the ramifications at a later date. We need to end the kick-the-can-down-the-road approach and start proposing tax cuts one year at a time so we can effectively deal with the budget process ourselves.”

Editor's note: The headline was altered after publication.

Related Articles:

Progressive Advocacy Groups Wants Tax Loophole for the Wealthy

Here's Why You Deserve a State Income Tax Cut

Michigan’s Tax Collectors Are Hauling It In

Families Paying $1 Billion More In State Income Tax

Upper Peninsula Democrat Breaks With Party On Vote To Cut State Income Tax

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