Ingham Co. Dems Talk Tax Increase

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"We actually have 1,600 less police officers in our state of Michigan since 9/11," Rep. Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga) told taxpayers Tuesday.

There are fewer workers to perform government services thanks to years of budget cuts, say the Democrats representing Ingham County in the state House.

"We're trying to do just as much or a lot more on a lot less than we had in 1973," Rep. Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing).

State revenue has decreased by billions in past years, Meadows, Byrum and Rep. Joan Bauer (D-Lansing) point out.

Their solution: increase state revenue.

"And we all know what that really means: ... tax increases," Bauer said.

An increase could take many forms. Most likely: increasing the income tax.

The current 3.9% could be upped to 4.6%, a rate Michigan taxpayers paid as recently as the 1990s. Moving the tax rate to 4.9% is another option. A graduated income tax, like the federal government system, is possible but could take years to implement.

Other possibilities include the governor's 2% sales tax on services or a 6% luxury sales tax on things ilke concert tickets.

To make the case for new revenues, Rep. George Cushingberry (D-Detroit) detailed just how much less money Michigan is taking in than it used to. In other words, he says, government has already done its sharing of cutting.

So did it convince the crowd?

Sue Smith told us she'd get behind it even though she thinks there are places in government to cut like education and courts.

"There are sacred cows," she said.

A few at the meeting spoke about how so many in Lansing and in Michigan just can't afford any extra money taken out of their paychecks. But most we spoke with agreed with Tom Ford.

"I willing to pay it and I think most people will," Ford said. "It's like Cushingberry said: you're not even hardly going to notice it on your taxes. And it's something we need to do if we're going to have a future here."

Now the question is: will the support heard at Tuesday's meeting, which included many state employees, translate to the wider public.

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