Update: information about a third group joining the fight against the sales tax proposal has been added to this story.
LANSING, MI — A second group has formed a ballot proposal committee to oppose the May ballot proposal that would increase the sales tax to 7 percent and fund road improvements.
The new group is called “Coalition Against Higher Taxes and Special Interest Deals.” It’s headed by Saginaw County businessman Paul Mitchell, who ran in a Republican primary against then-Sen. John Moolenaar last year but lost.
One thing that bothers him is the final number. Between an estimate from the House Fiscal Agency and a study from the Anderson Economic Group, Mitchell thinks this will end up costing voters about $2 billion in increased taxes.
The road funding proposal was settled on as part of an 11-bill package. Voters will vote on a constitutional amendment to increase the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. Other components of the package would switch the fuel tax to a wholesale basis and eliminate some annual vehicle registration fee discounts. In total, it’s projected to raise $1.2 billion.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bills authorizing the deal, and is a high-profile supporter of the pro side, which calls its ballot committee “Michigan Citizens for Better Roads and Schools.” He’s recently framed the ballot proposal as a public safety issue, and has been urging Michiganders to vote for it.
Mitchell said his coalition plans to inform voters that not all of this tax increase will go toward roads.
“Proposal 1 is not a good solution, it’s a special interest, back room deal-making hodge-podge. We will inform voters that their taxes will go up, their registration fees will go up, and everyone is still trying to figure out everything that is in this proposal,” Mitchell said.
Historically, Mitchell said, ballot questions that seek to increase taxes haven’t gone over well with voters.
The Coalition Against Higher Taxes and Special Interest Deals is the second anti-roads proposal group to form a ballot question committee, a necessary step to be able to raise and spend money in opposition to a ballot proposal.
The other group that has formally registered to fight the ballot proposal is calling itself “Protect Michigan Taxpayers.” Keith Allard of that group says the addition of Mitchell’s group.
“I think from the start we were pretty aware there would be a good amount of groups opposing this thing,” Allard said.
A third group announced itself on Monday: “Concerned Grassroots of Michigan” is led by former Rep. Tom McMillin, who ran for the 8th Congressional District but was bounced off in a primary.
“The Michigan House of Representatives passed a solid road funding plan in 2014 that would have fixed Michigan’s roads without raising any taxes, while guaranteeing current funding levels to public schools and local governments. Michigan taxpayers already pay some of the highest gas taxes in the nation, and this plan would raise our state sales tax to the highest in the nation after California. Michigan residents are taxed enough already,” McMillin said.
The group has not yet registered a ballot committee with the state.
Mitchell said he’d met with several groups before forming his, and will be coordinating messages with other opposition groups.