FLINT TWP. — The Carman- Ainsworth Board of Education passed a resolution last week in support of state Proposal 1 which will come before voters on the May 5 ballot.
“The success of Michigan’s economy rests upon its infrastructure, the education it provides its children and the roads and bridges that facilitate agriculture, commerce, industry and tourism in our state,” stated a resolution passed unanimously by the board, without discussion.
The resolution cited Proposal A approved by Michigan voters in 1994, which eliminated the ability of school districts to seek operating funds from constituents and switched that role to the state through a sales tax increase. Proposal A ballot language “clearly indicated’” those revenues would go to public schools, providing tax relief for property owners while maintaining adequate funding for K-12 education but made no mention of institutions of higher learning nor was that intent communicated to voters, according to the resolution.
“The expected continuing transfer of funds from the School Aid Fund to institutions of higher education will further debilitate Michigan public schools, “ the C-A board resolution stated.
Further, the resolution asserts the “poor condition” of 38 percent of Michigan state and local urban roads and 32 percent of state and local rural roads, while Michigan per-capita investment in transportation is less than any other state.
Cuts in both federal and state funding for education over the past several years makes it vital for increased K-12 funding to support ongoing educational efforts, according to the C-A resolution.
“Proposal 1 on the May 5, 2015 ballot is Michigan’s last, best chance to finally fix our roads, provide additional funding for schools and local governments, while also protecting the School Aid Fund from future diversions to institutions of higher education,’’ the resolution concluded.
Approved ballot language for the proposal reads as follows:
A proposal to amend the State Constitution to increase the sales/use tax from 6% to 7% to replace and supplement reduced revenue to the School Aid Fund and local units of government caused by the elimination of the sales/use tax on gasoline and diesel fuel for vehicles operating on public roads, and to give effect to laws that provide additional money for roads and other transportation purposes by increasing the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.
The proposed constitutional amendment would:
• Eliminate sales / use taxes on gasoline / diesel fuel for vehicles on public roads.
• Increase portion of use tax dedicated to School Aid Fund (SAF).
• Expand use of SAF to community colleges and career / technical education, and prohibit use for 4-year colleges / universities.
• Give effect to laws, including those that:
• Increase sales / use tax to 7%, as authorized by constitutional amendment.
• Increase gasoline / diesel fuel tax and adjust annually for inflation, increase vehicle registration fees, and dedicate revenue for roads and other transportation purposes.
• Expand competitive bidding and warranties for road projects.
• Increase earned income tax credit.
If approved, it is estimated that the legislation will generate an estimated $1.2 billion a year more to spend on roads, $300 million a year more for K-12 schools, about $100 million for transit and local governments and increase the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families.
Opponents of the proposal argue that 40 percent of funds generated will be spent on interests besides roads.
“This ballot initiative will raise Michigan’s sales tax to the second highest in the country,’’ according to Protect MI Taxpayers, which opposes the proposal.
“Our state budget is over 52 billion dollars! It’s time for our legislators to do their jobs and find the money to fix our roads in billions of dollars they already take from hard working Michiganders every year.”
The impact on individual taxpayers depends on several variables but one change could be an estimated ten cents more per gallon for motor fuel, according to an analysis by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.
— Rhonda Sanders