I rise this afternoon to speak on House Bill No. 4361 and the discussion that happened this afternoon. As you know, I voted against House Bill No. 4361. I did not come to this decision lightly. Let me begin my statement by saying for the record that which is already known. I opposed the passage of the MBT as a member of the House, and I strongly supported the repeal of the Michigan business tax just as I supported the repeal of the single business tax which it replaced.
I supported the Governor's corporate tax plan for the simplification it brings in the reduction in taxes on Michigan's job providers. Since we began this debate over the tax proposal, I have continuously argued for the business tax cut and against the imposition of the income tax on pensioners and retirement income. I opposed the scheduled interruption of the scheduled reduction of the income tax rate. These are clear and distinct issues and should have been treated as such.
After the 30-plus-year nightmare of both the single business tax and the Michigan business tax, can anyone really argue that its elimination and replacement doesn't have the merit to stand alone as its own issue? I understand that arguments have been made regarding fairness and shared sacrifice as justification for tax increases that were part of this package.
However, my experience teaches me that here in Lansing, a rationale can always be found for raising taxes on some or all of Michigan's taxpayers. I remind my colleagues that within the last few years, we have seen income tax increases, cigarette tax increases, liquor tax increases, and business tax increases. The MBT itself was a tax increase above the SBT, and the surcharge was an insult added on top of the injury that was provided here.
All of these tax increases took place over my objection, I would point out, and I believe that state government has been living off the shared sacrifices that these tax increases represent for all of the last eight years. Now there has been a very refreshing change in the occupancy of the Governor's office. However, I am concerned that the culture in Lansing here has not changed as well. Governor Snyder has advanced a strong reform agenda in all areas of state government, and I believe he is correct to do so.
We Senate Republicans have argued for reforms first. His efforts in all these areas have my support. I am concerned, however, that the inclusion of a pension tax increase and the interruption in the income tax cut will embolden those in opposition to his reform agenda and make the advanced reform agenda more difficult.
I do believe that we should move on reform measures before we moved on the budget because ultimately the greatest mechanism that we have enforcing change is the power of the purse strings, and one should come before the other. We must never forget that the power to tax is the most potent power that we have.
The tax dollars that we spend here in this town routinely represent the production hours, days, weeks, and years of our constituents' lives, and that fact has never been too far from my mind.
I have always believed the real courage and real leadership comes in finding solutions to policy questions without imposing new or additional taxes on our constituency.
-- State Senator Dave Robertson no vote explanation
If anybody on here knows him, thank him. He nailed it.