Michigan has made severe cuts in state aid to education in recent years, at a time when it desperately needs a better-educated work force. As Michigan's highways and bridges crumble, the Legislature's Republican majorities have ignored GOP Gov. Rick Snyder's urgent request for more road aid. Such neglect is bad enough.
But in an astonishing move that combines poor policy with election-year pandering, the state House recently voted to reduce the state income tax rate from the current 4.35 percent to 3.9 percent over six years. That cut would cost cash-strapped Michigan an estimated $800 million a year by the time it fully kicks in.
The sponsor of this reckless bill, Lenawee County Republican lawmaker Nancy Jenkins, predicted incredibly that the state would have enough money to cover the tax cut. "This bill is based on expected revenue, and will not lead to program cuts or shifted funds," she asserted. That makes no sense, unless you believe in a very generous tooth fairy.
Regrettably, most House Democrats, afraid of election-year attacks, voted to approve the tax cut. One of the few who showed statesmanship was state Rep. Vicki Barnett. "This makes no sense in terms of creating a stable funding source for necessary programs," she said. She added that while she "would like to join in the fun ... I was elected not to pander for political gain."
The Michigan Senate, which is not up for election this year, ought to ignore this bill until after November, and then let it die. It would be nice, too, if during a critical time for Michigan's future, the state's voters sent a few more adults to Lansing this fall.