Reduce taxes to grow the population

By Sen. Jack Brandenburg
8th Senate District

I recently introduced Senate Bill 4, which calls for the repeal of our state income tax over a period of five years. I am advocating this legislation because we need to give our residents much-needed tax relief, and I want very much to grow our population back. Compared to other states, our population has barely grown in the last six years.

From 2010 to 2016, Michigan grew in population by a paltry 44,000 people, while North Carolina grew by over 390,000 in that time frame. Texas grew by 2.7 million people, Washington grew by 563,000 and South Dakota grew more than Michigan at 51,000 people. These are compelling numbers and we must ask ourselves what these states are doing that we are not.

We must ask ourselves why, in 1967, we had 19 congressional districts, but we now have only 14. That is a loss of one third of our voting power. Other states are gaining power because they are adding population, but Michigan is falling further behind. We have less population today than we did in 2006. In the 2010 census, Michigan was the only state in the Union to lose population. We lost 54,800 people.

Michigan needs a game-changer. I believe that the repeal of the state income tax is just the stimulus we need to increase our population. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has stated: “Not having a state income tax is our state’s greatest selling point.” I have a better one: “Michigan is a right-to-work state and oh, by the way, we do not have a state income tax either.” That is powerful, but what is even more powerful is putting more money in our residents’ hands for them to spend.

There are seven states in the U.S. that do not have an income tax: Texas, Florida, Nevada, Washington, South Dakota, Alaska and Wyoming. From 2010 through 2016, in population, Texas grew by 10.8 percent; Florida grew by 9.6 percent; Nevada by 8.9 percent; Washington by 8.4 percent; South Dakota by 6.3 percent; Alaska by 4.5 percent and Wyoming by 3.9 percent. Michigan grew by only .004 percent.

These seven states are putting up gains that Michigan is not even coming close to. These gains spell out a heavy duty increase of revenue. As this process unfolds, we will have more money for tax cuts, infrastructure, education, our rainy day fund and a lot more.

What is not surprising is the difference in personal income per capita when you compare Michigan to six of these states. Personal income per capita as of 2015 in Michigan was $42,427. In Alaska, it is $54,012. In Washington, it is $49,610. In Wyoming, it is $54,584. In South Dakota, it is $45,279. In Texas, it is $45,669 and in Florida, $42,737. This represents a 14.2 percent difference in personal income when you compare these six states to Michigan. Only Nevada had less personal income than Michigan.

We need to attract new residents and businesses to Michigan. We need to motivate residents who have left to come back. In short, once again, we need a game changer. I am convinced that repealing our state income tax would do just that.

State Sen. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, represents Michigan’s 8th District.

This editorial originally appeared in the Detroit News.

Senator Brandenburg District Update

Senate adopts Asian carp Senate Concurrent Resolution 7

Invasive species already cost the Great Lakes region more than $100 million a year to control. If Asian carp were to breach the Great Lakes system, the cost would be catastrophic.

I recently supported a Senate resolution to back the recommendations of the Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. Already, juvenile Asian carp have been identified only 47 miles from Lake Michigan.

Asian carp out-compete native fish, and once established, they are nearly impossible to eradicate. Their arrival would seriously threaten the viability of the Great Lakes $7 billion sport and commercial fishery.

Sen. Brandenburg backs new law to provide better health care and access

Under a new law, patients in rural communities will have better access to quality health care.

Public Act 499 of 2016 expands the scope of practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), allowing them to provide more services under the delegation of a physician. APRNs include nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists. The new law also incentivizes APRNs to serve in Health Resource Shortage Areas, typically rural areas, to increase access to medical care and lower health care costs. The law takes effect on April 9, 2017.

Fostering Futures Scholarship application period now open

Many teens who emancipate from foster care want to attend college, yet less than 10 percent who graduate from high school actually enroll in college.

The Fostering Futures Scholarship provides some help with college expenses such as tuition, fees, room, board and books when no other assistance may be available. Since 2012, nearly $900,000 has been raised and awarded to students through individual and group donations, sponsorships and other volunteer-based fundraising events. From now to June 30, eligible students enrolled at a Michigan college or university have an opportunity to apply for a scholarship up to $3,000. To learn more, visit www.fosteringfutures-mi.com.

Senate legislation under consideration would provide for an income tax checkoff contribution to the Fostering Futures Scholarship trust fund.

Overview of Michigan forest health

Michigan forests cover approximately 20 million acres and rank among the top ten states in land area. This important natural resource not only adds natural beauty and supports valuable wildlife habitat but plays a leading role in the state’s recreation, forest products and tourism industries.

The 2016 Forest Health Highlights report recently issued by the DNR provides an overview of Michigan’s forests, breaks down current threats to their health, including insects and diseases, and details what’s being done to protect and improve our forest system. Check out the report at www.michigan.gov/foresthealth.

Senator Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg supports new law improving access to health care services

Nationally, it’s estimated that telehealth is expected to increase from the 250,000 patients who utilized the service in 2013 to more than 3 million patients by 2018.

Senate legislation now signed into law defines telehealth in the state’s health code to encourage health care professionals to use electronic information and technologies to provide patient care. Public Act 359 of 2016 will help expand access to care, especially in underserved areas, reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. In addition, telehealth will benefit health care professional training and consultation between providers.

The new law, which goes into effect on March 29, 2017, received wide support from within the health care community.

Sen. Brandenburg: Phone scams on the rise during tax season

During tax season, there’s an increase in scam phone calls from criminals claiming to be tax officials asking for cash payments through a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The Michigan Department of Treasury reminds taxpayers that the agency will never:

  • Initiate a phone call to ask for personal information;
  • Call to demand immediate payment from a prepaid debit card, wire transfer or gift card;
  • Threaten to immediately arrest the taxpayer;
  • Demand that taxes be paid without an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed; or
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Taxpayers who receive a call from a scammer should report the case to the IRS by calling 800-366-4484.

MDOT 2017 construction map now available

The 2017 Paving the Way state construction map is now available online at www.michigan.gov/mdotmaps. The map details the major road repairs scheduled this season on state highways and trunklines, along with the construction dates.

State construction information and up-to-date traffic information is also available on the Mi Drive website at www.michigan.gov/drive, as well as the Mi Drive mobile app, available on iTunes and Google Play.

Renew your boat registration online

With spring on its way, it’s never been easier to renew your watercraft registration! All watercraft, unless exempt, must be registered with the Michigan Secretary of State. Visit www.ExpressSOS.com to renew, or renew by mail or at a Secretary of State branch office. Registrations are issued for three years and expire on March 31 of the third year.

Money from boat registration fees helps fund Michigan’s 82 public harbors and more than 1,300 public boat launches.