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Michigan Taxpayers Alliance Updates: March 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Drinks are on you! You're paying to lobby against yourself!

When you think of Lansing lobbyists spending money on gifts, trips, meals and drinks for state lawmakers, who comes to mind? Big corporations like IBM, Toyota, Comerica Bank, Meijer, and Anheuser Busch? Big interest groups like the ACLU, Realtors, and the Life Insurance Association of Michigan?

Guess what? Your own government spends more to lobby itself than all the groups listed above. Believe it or not, the Office of the Governor uses your tax dollars to lobby state legislators - and spends more on lobbying than Chrysler Corporation, Compuware, or the Detroit Auto Dealers Association.

According to research by the MI Campaign Finance Network, last year the Governor's Office used $63,672 of your tax dollars to wine and dine other state politicians. Governor Granholm's administration didn't stop there; her Department of Education increased its' lobbying budget by 49% last year. The Department of Environmental Quality upped its' lobbying by 12%, and the Governor's MI Economic Development Corporation - a failure at expanding our state's economy - succeeded at expanding its' own lobbying budget by 106%. Even the MI Department of Treasury (the bureaucrats in charge of taking your income) used your money to lobby politicians - and increased its' lobby budget by 2% last year to $92,532.

What do these government departments use your tax dollars to lobby for? They lobby for even more of your tax dollars. Guess who's paying to lobby legislators for a graduated state income tax, higher fees, and more spending on bigger budgets? You are! The money taken from your paycheck is being used by the Governor and her bureaucrats to lobby for more money from your paycheck.

Your state government isn't the only government in MI using tax dollars to influence politicians. Every state university does it (MSU increased its lobby budget 25% last year), as do many community colleges (Macomb Community College's lobbying went up by 128%) and many local school districts (Oakland County's ISD upped its' lobby spending by 80%). Even the Detroit Public Library spent $44,939 (up 79%) to woo state politicians last year.

Next time Governor Granholm claims budgets in Lansing are cut to the bone, remember that her budgets' for lobbying politicians are going up. In fact, tonight is Tuesday - a day the state legislature is in session. When you sit down for dinner this evening, its quite possible that your taxes will be paying for state bureaucrats to lobby politicians' at fine restaurants in Lansing. You'll be paying for several dinners tonight - your family's and your government's. Guess who's having the finest cut of steak?

Enjoy your meal,

Leon Drolet
MI Taxpayers Alliance

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Macomb Tax Protest Kicks A**!

Over 120 agitated MTA protesters and an additional 100 angry taxpayers greeted Paul Gieleghem, Chair of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, at a 'town hall' meeting last night in Shelby Township. Commissioner Gieleghem scheduled the meeting to explain why most commissioners are seeking a 9% increase in the county property tax.

Gieleghem orchestrated several such town hall meetings to build support for the tax hike, holding most during the day so working taxpayers can't attend and stocking the meetings with county government employees and employee union officials. Last night was very different - the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance showed up.

And show up we did! The Macomb Daily reports that 80 protesters chanted outside prior to the meeting - but the reporter's estimate is way low. See the article here.

Things got testy, wanna see?

First, check out the coverage on Channel 4 WDIV news last night.

Then check out the Fox 2 News coverage that aired.

The meeting itself was attended by over 220 people, nearly all opposed the tax hike. Gieleghem argued that the only way to avoid hiking taxes was to cut services. He avoided the fact that the COST of services, not the services themselves, are the problem; most county employees are eligible to retire at age 50 and the county is the last employer on Earth to offer employees expensive 'defined benefit' retirement plans. Every other employer that offers retirement provides a 'defined contribution' plan or 401k.

Attached are two photos from the protest.

Great job Macomb County MTA members and friends. Last night, we were heard - the only things going up in Macomb are unemployment and taxes. And politicians are directly responsible for at least one of those problems!

Leon Drolet
MI Taxpayers Alliance

One last thing. Not every Macomb Commissioner supports the tax hike. The few remaining Republicans left on the Board oppose the tax hike and Commissioners Don Brown (R-Washington Twp.), Keith Rengert (R-Richmond) and Jim Carabelli (R-Shelby Township) attended the protest and/or meeting.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Granholm's New Gas Tax

I’m not a fan of sending out daily or weekly emails. But I have an obligation to alert you to Governor Granholm's newest tax hike plan.

Frank Beckmann reported on his radio show on WJR 760 AM last week that Governor Granholm plans to raise taxes on gas. Yesterday, Granholm confirmed Beckmann's report and announced her tax hike proposal, despite her promise not to raise taxes this year. She wants to change the tax on gas from its current 19 cents per gallon (13th highest in the nation) to a percent-per-dollar that would result in more money for the state. Her plan may also include a doubling of your annual registration fees.

It's overwhelming. Michigan's economy is dying, and the government-class is rushing in to feed off the carcass as quickly as it can. We've suffered the state's income tax hike (12%), business tax hike (22%) and now Granholm wants a gas tax hike. Not to mention the endless fee hikes and new energy code resulting in electricity rate hikes. Plus, Macomb County's plan for a 9% county property tax hike and, of course, President Obama's budget that would quadruple the national deficit in one year.

Everyone, apparently, is going to suffer except government employees, politicians, and some organizations which rely primarily on your tax dollars.

Three things that you can do:

1. Call your state legislator and tell him/her to vote 'No' on any tax hike, including the gas tax hike. Find your Senator here and your Representative here.

2. If you're a Macomb County citizen, attend this coming Wednesday's (March 11) protest against the property tax hike in Shelby Township.

3. Start spreading the word to family and friends. Encourage them to join the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance or another activist organization. Pass along emails.

Expect a few more emails from me as things heat up. We are not going away without a fight, and some politicians are going to pay with their careers if the MTA has anything to say about it!

Leon Drolet
MI Taxpayers Alliance

P.S. - If you were unable to attend a workshop on appealing you property tax assessment, it is not too late. A DVD from the tax appeal workshops is available on the MTA website for $10. Click here for information.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How dare they?! Time to fight back!

Miserable enough yet? Things tough enough for you yet? Not if you live in Macomb County, where your county Board of Commissioners doesn't think you pay enough in property taxes. They're going to raise your property taxes by 9%.

Yeah, I said NINE PERCENT! And I'm not saying that they're "thinking of raising your taxes" or "might raise your taxes". No, they WILL raise your county property tax millage rate from 4.2 mills to 4.5685 mills - about a 9% hike. And they'll be voting on the tax hike later this month.

How insane is it to raise taxes on suffering citizens in the middle of the worst depression in decades? Do Commissioners have any idea how bad things are for citizens right now? Do they care?

Folks, it is time to protest. A protest is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11 at 6:30pm in front to the Palazzo Grande Banquet and Event Center at 54660 Van Dyke (South of 25 Mile Rd.), in Shelby Twp.

Why March 11 at the Palazzo Grande? Because that's the Commissioners' final 'Town Hall Meeting' at which they explain why they want to raise your property taxes. Several such 'Town Hall Meetings' occurred yesterday, March 3 at locations in Macomb. But audiences were carefully stocked with government employees who want this tax hike on you. At the only evening event, in the Sterling Heights Library, about 60 citizens showed up to express disapproval of the tax hike. However, the Commissioners allowed only 15 minutes for audience questions after the official presentation. When the audience protested, the Commissioners allowed another 15 minutes, but repeatedly called on the same woman in the audience - who coincidentally supported the tax hike.

So, the protest will be outside in front of the Palazzo Grande - rain, snow or shine. Dress warm. Bring neighbors, family friends, and protest signs. Signs will also be available for those who won't have time to make one. We will be alerting the media.

The protest will last from 6:30pm until the meeting begins at 7:00pm, at which time we will enter the meeting itself. We will not disrupt the meeting, but we WILL insist on speaking and asking questions at the appropriate time.

Friends, if you live in Macomb, we need you to help with this fight. Somewhere, some place, citizens must take a stand against the fiscal insanity consuming our country, state and local governments. Take that stand with us next week at the protest in Shelby Township. It's what you can do to fight back!

I'll keep you posted. See you on March 11th.

Leon Drolet
MI Taxpayers Alliance

One last Macomb County note: the final workshops for citizens to learn how to appeal their property tax assessments are THIS WEEK. These educational workshops are a free service of the MI Taxpayers Alliance and the Wayne County Taxpayers Association.

Tomorrow, March 5th at Harrison Township Hall located at 38151 L'Anse Creuse, Harrison Township, MI 48045 at 7:00pm.

Friday, March 6th at Washington Township Hall located at 57900 Van Dyke, 1/2 mile north of 26 Mile Road. There are TWO workshops scheduled on this same evening, the first from 5:00pm until 6:45pm and the second from 7:00pm until 8:45pm.