Grass roots coalition preparing for ballot drive in the event that lame duck legislature tries to pull a fast one.
Small Business Ready for “Axe the Tax” 2.0 But Hoping it Won’t Be Necessary
December 16, 2014 (Lansing) –Reminding lawmakers of the last
ill-fated attempt to impose a services tax, Charlie Owens – Michigan State
Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) – said such
a move in the lame duck session could backfire on lawmakers returning after the
first of the year.
Efforts to solve the challenge of funding roads have moved
to a conference committee where at least two bills could be used to create a
sales tax on services to raise money for road construction and maintenance.
“For those whose memories may be short, in 2007 the
legislature cut a deal with then Governor Granholm and passed a sales tax on
services in the middle of the night,” said Owens. “The result was the business
community banding together with consumer, citizen and grass roots groups to begin
a petition drive to put a repeal of the tax before voters.”
Owens said that the coalition, called “Axe the Tax” was well
on their way to gathering the needed signatures before a last minute deal
resulted in the legislature repealing the services tax two days after it went
“If you are looking for a way to unite those previously
successful grass roots groups to a common cause and waste the entire next
session in a divisive fight for repeal, passing a services tax to fund roads
would be a good way to do it,” said Owens.
According to Owens, lawmakers learned quickly during the
2007 debacle that many groups committed most of their PAC and corporate money
to the petition gathering effort and were left short on supporting lawmaker and
caucus campaign committees.
“Public resentment of a services tax is no less now than it
was then,” said Owens. “Whether the excuse is to fund roads or, as advocated by
education officials, to fund schools—Michigan small business will not support a
services tax and more importantly, will join in the effort to repeal it.
Unfortunately, the time and resources dedicated to this campaign will distract
from other issues and opportunities that could move Michigan forward in the
coming session. It is our sincere hope that repeal of a services tax will not
need to be a priority for NFIB and other business and consumer groups in 2015.”