Michigan Education Association

Michigan needs balanced solutions to address budget crisis, experts say

Reforms, cuts, revenues all needed, panelists tell audience at MEA tax policy summit

LANSING, Mich., Jan. 20, 2011 — The governor and Legislature must implement balanced solutions to the state’s $1.8 billion budget deficit that include reforms, cuts and revenues, leading economists and tax policy experts said Thursday at the Michigan Education Association’s tax policy summit in Lansing.

“Michigan’s budget crisis is far too big to solve by any single strategy — it can’t be done by cuts alone without damaging the economy and threatening jobs,” said panelist Jon Shure of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C., a nonpartisan research and policy institute. “With a new governor inheriting a massive budget deficit, Michigan should join the states that are using a balanced approach that includes revenues.”

As part of “MEA’s A+ Agenda” released this week (available at www.mea.org/press), the MEA is calling on Michigan lawmakers to fix Michigan’s antiquated tax structure that has led to the state’s decade-long budget crisis. That includes closing tax loopholes and giveaways for companies that don’t create jobs; auditing government contracts to ensure taxpayers are getting their money’s worth; modernizing the state’s sales tax so it includes services; and joining 34 other states in implementing a graduated income tax.

“Another cuts-only budget would put a damper on hope for an economic recovery, as the vital services that improve residents’ lives and attract jobs and investments could be damaged tremendously,” said panelist Charles Ballard, a professor of economics at Michigan State University. “Businesses looking to locate here won’t want to invest in a state that doesn’t invest in itself.”

MEA President Iris K. Salters said: “We need real, balanced solutions for protecting the things Michigan citizens care about most — local schools, public safety and care for seniors. We can’t keep slashing critical budget priorities that ordinary citizens rely on, while allowing corporate CEOs to rake in billions of dollars each year in unchecked tax breaks and lucrative government contracts.”

Speakers at the “Tackling Big Problems with Balanced Solutions” event also featured Richard Longworth, author of Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism, and East Lansing economist Patrick Anderson.

More than 300 people attended the day-long event at the downtown Lansing Radisson hotel, with 200 more watching via a live webcast.  A recording of the full event will be available starting next week at www.mea.org/investing.

Contact: Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, 517-896-4465


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