WSW: Michigan's Budget, Taxes And "The Human Face" Of Infrastructure

Feb 13, 2017

Amtrak train in downtown Kalamazoo - file photo
Credit WMUK

Michigan League for Public Police President Gilda Jacobs says there are a number of encouraging things in Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed budget. She says probably the most important one is upholding funding for Healthy Michigan Plan, which expands Medicaid


The Michigan League for Public Policy works on issues of poverty in the state. The group has often been critical of Governor Snyder’s tax and spending proposals. But Jacobs says investments in education and other social programs is a move in the right direction.

Taxes

But Jacobs is glad for something not in the governor’s proposed budget – an income tax cut. Some Republican lawmakers have said they would like to reduce tax rate, or even eliminate the income tax altogether over the long term. But Jacobs says other states like Kansas have had “buyer’s remorse” after big tax cuts because they couldn’t fund services. She says those states end up looking for other ways to tax residents to make up the revenue.

Jacobs says people in the state, which is still trying to address the Flint water crisis, should know that Michigan has to have money to address emergencies. And she says no one can see in the future enough to phase the income tax out over decades.     

Family Tragedy and Infrastructure

A train derailment outside Philadelphia in 2015 left eight people dead. One of them was Jacobs’ daughter Rachel. Jacobs says the technology to stop the speeding train “was there, but some decision was made at some point by Amtrak not to have it installed on all of the trains.”  

“You can really connect the dots to how important infrastructure is to the very lives of the individuals that use our roads, our trains, our bridges that drink our water.”

Jacobs says the water crisis in Flint didn’t have to happen but she says decisions were not made that changed the trajectory of people’s lives. Jacobs says she wrote about her daughter’s death in a blog post to try and put a human face on budget decisions about taxes and spending on infrastructure.

“I want legislators to understand the human faces that are behind these decisions.”