Detroit Chamber Doesn't Rule Out All Taxes
The Detroit Regional of Chamber today called on legislators to resolve
the impasse over the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 budget, but didn't rule out a
temporary tax increase as a possible solution. 

The Detroit Chamber stressed that "meaningful structural reforms and
spending cuts" need to happen before talk of tax hikes. The Chamber
would not support a sales tax on services or a general sales tax
increase, but that's where the line ended. 

"Time is running out to pass a budget that puts Michigan on a sound
economic footing," said Richard BLOUSE, president and CEO of the Detroit
Regional Chamber. "The lack of a solution that addresses meaningful
structural reforms and spending cuts is creating uncertainty among
business leaders about doing business in Michigan." 

Legislative leaders and the Governor must address the state budget
deficit and agree upon a solution before the beginning of the new fiscal
year with a plan that only adds programs if ones of equal or greater
cost are eliminated. 

Chamber officials also stressed that "long-term meaningful structural
reforms" need to be a component of any budget before lawmakers go down
the revenue avenue. Possible ideas include bringing Michigan's prison
population in line with other Great Lakes states. Restructuring school
and local health care and retirement benefits should also be on the
plate as should encouraging local and school consolidation. 

Detroit Chamber officials say increasing the sales tax or expanding it
to services would be a hassle for its members, not to mention a
deterrent to their members' customers, which would explain their flat
opposition to it. 

Sen. Jud GILBERT <>
(R-Algonac) told MIRS today he, too, would prefer that whatever tax
increase is pushed through be temporary and not necessarily something
put before voters, where the hike would have some permanency to it. 

Reid, Coleman On Tax Hike 
Two university presidents are pleading for more fiscal support from the
state, but when given a chance to embrace an income tax hike, the
University of Michigan president punted. 

Mary Sue COLEMAN told WWJ NewsRadio 950 today that it's something
lawmakers "have to do." She was asked specifically if she favored the
tax hike and she did not answer. 

Wayne State University President Irwin REID also checked-in on the need
for more revenue and a tax hike. He told the radio station, "The state
needs to add revenue...part of that is going to be a tax increase," he

Reid said this protracted budget debate is "not building confidence" as
companies think about relocating here. He added that it's unfortunate
that this has come "almost to the brink" to be resolved. He's assuming,
of course, it will be resolved. 

Adding another dimension to the talks among the Governor, the House
Speaker and Majority Leader, Democrats are now complaining that Senate
Leader Mike BISHOP <>
(R-Rochester) refuses to debate the size of a possible tax hike. This
leaves both the Governor and Speaker Andy DILLON
<>  frustrated. 

Dillon, much like Reid, is concerned over the negative publicity
surrounding this debate, especially if the state government goes through
a partial shutdown. Dillon said sending the message that "Michigan is
not open for business" is the wrong message.