Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Please! Raise My Taxes

Many schools are approaching the year with deficit budgets. Ypsilanti is actually thinking about adopting a deficit budget--which might not be a bad plan for the short-term, although it's hard to see how it's a long-term solution.

Saline has a blog devoted to the budget. The May 11th post details how bad the state funding situation looks, and the information is relevant for every Michigan school district.

Ann Arbor has union negotiations this summer--I'm sure the budget will be a big factor there.

And the state is cutting, and cutting, and cutting. The only reason K-12 education has been spared is that the stimulus money requires it. Instead, local governments are getting cut; and they are cutting. Health, parks, police, fire. Think that won't affect kids? Think again.

I want nice parks.
I want healthy kids.
I want police officers, and firefighters.
I want adequate funding for schools everywhere (the state itself defined adequate as $8400/pupil, and guess what--the only district in the county that is over $8400/pupil is the hold-harmless district of Ann Arbor--most of the districts are at least $500/pupil below that).

Please--raise my taxes--how about that graduated income tax? It's time. I am willing to pay for services. And I hope you are too.


  1. Look, you have to be real about what is happening in the county. Raising taxes will be a county wide affair, and an average house in Ypsi is now $76,000. Things will have to change. Even if you raise taxes some, it's not going to be enough. GM will likely go bankrupt by June 1, this area has essentially lost its tax base. Likely pension and benefit reform will have to happen so schools can be adequately staffed.

  2. You're right about reforms. But I think we are fast approaching the limits of things that we are cutting. Even the idea that hundreds of dollars (per student) in school aid revenue cuts are being floated is horrendous and would result in huge cuts. But I wasn't necessarily referring to local taxes. I think anything that happens has to happen statewide. And for me that would start with a graduated income tax. At one point I was well below the median income, and now I'm above it, so if there had been a graduated income tax I would have benefited from that when I needed it, and now I would be paying a little more... aggregated, a little goes a long way.
    Side notes--I think that most people have no idea how our taxes have been rolled back so we are well, well below the Headlee amendment. And if a house was worth $200,000 last year, and is worth $100,000 now, even if it is worth $200,000 again next year (i.e. if prices recover), we will not be able to increase the taxable value back to the old rate for a very long time.
    Summary--Taxes pay for services, and I'm interested in having safe roads and bridges, schools that work, parks that are kept-up, police and firefighters. That's what makes communities worth living in, to me. When you tax at the community level (i.e. Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor), then poorer communities get less access. Which is why I think we need to change things at the state level. And yes, the federal level too...

  3. There's little appetite for tax increases, much less income tax increases, not in this state. Likely, there will begin to be very severe cuts. We just aren't a rich state any more, people just don't realize that completely. There's the enormous loss of real estate value. It's not just the tax base that's gone, there's the asset values that are lost to the homeowners that are hanging on, nuch less those people who have foreclosed. Many people have lost their pensions, and now 401K's are now 201K's. There was an enormous loss of wealth occurring in these last two years. Trillions of dollars of wealth have simply been erased. There is no limit really to cutting budgets,of course you can cut quite a bit. The result will be that people will have to manage differently. Keeping up everything like we did pre-recession/depression is very small.The magnitude of what is happening is beginning to dawn on people.
    Of course, we want it all to be nice, but we will have to pick and choose, and prioritize what we need.