Proposal 1 Straight Talk

If you’re like a lot of the people I’ve talked with or listened to recently, you’re may be starting to think more fervently about Proposal 1 and wondering why we would increase our sales tax to improve Michigan’s roads. PC side 1There are some who say Proposal 1 is too complex because it involves Michigan’s roads, Michigan’s schools, the sales tax, and even earned income tax credits for low income families.

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Like others who are interested in the quality of our transportation infrastructure, K-12 public schools, and the welfare of our most at-risk students, I’ve taken the time to study Proposal 1 in detail and I’d like to share what I’ve learned.  Here’s what it does:

• Proposal 1 increases the sales tax from 6 cents per dollar to 7 cents, bringing our state sales tax in line with the sales taxes paid in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio.

• Proposal 1 substitutes the sales tax on gasoline with a funding stream that directs all tax dollars spent at the pump to transportation purposes.

• The sales tax on fuel provides more than $630 million per year for schools. Proposal 1 replaces the money devoted to schools and prohibits the legislature from diverting school aid funds to four-year universities, which have received $200 million or more from the school aid fund each year since 2011.

• Proposal 1 would also provide additional dollars for schools through the increase in the sales tax, as most of the sales tax revenues are devoted to public education.

• A part of the sales tax on fuel also goes to revenue sharing, to help your local municipality pay for police, fire, and other services. Proposal 1 would replace those revenues through the sales tax increase.

• Many people fear low-income families will bear the brunt of the Proposal 1 sales tax increase because the one-cent increase would represent a larger portion of their family income. Proposal 1 restores a reduction in the earned income tax credit to offset the burden of additional sales taxes families at or near the poverty level.

As you can see, Proposal 1 is complex because it was constructed to make sure schools and municipalities do not suffer because taxes paid at the pump would be dedicated to repairing and maintaining our roads and bridges.

There are a number of resources on the Internet published by groups that both support and oppose Proposal 1. You may want to review some of the resources posted on the non-partisan Michigan League of Women Voters website (  I’ve also scheduled a community forum on Monday, April 20, 2015 from 7 to 8 pm in the Early Childhood Center multi-purpose room.

PC side 2 Please take time to study Proposal 1 and, above all, please vote on May 5th. One of the primary goals of public education is to prepare young people for participation in our Democracy and your involvement in the electoral process provides a wonderful role model for your children, grandchildren and all the children in our community.

About David Britten

Retired U.S. Army Officer, former elementary, middle and high school principal, currently serving as a public school superintendent.
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