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Friday, June 20, 2014

Mark Schauer: Snyder’s lip service is disservice to seniors, retirees


Governor Rick Snyder recently released a special message on aging to the Legislature. He called for “action to better serve older adults.” As my grandfather used to say, that’s just lip service.
We can credit Michigan’s seniors and retirees with helping to build a state that we can all be proud to call home. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their hard work, determination and sacrifice.
Instead of thanking seniors for their contributions to making Michigan a great state, Snyder has demanded that they sacrifice even more by taxing their pensions and cutting the homestead property tax credit. Additionally, Snyder put retiree pensions on the chopping block during the negotiations over Detroit’s bankruptcy. Public pensions are protected in the Michigan constitution, meaning Snyder not only betrayed retirees, he also violated his oath of office.
Snyder’s tax policies are putting the squeeze on seniors and retirees who are living on fixed incomes, and it’s making it harder for them to maintain their independence. Many are being forced to make the choice between paying for groceries and paying for their medications.
Is that the relentless positive action Snyder loves to tout?
Rather than owning up to the massive tax increase, Snyder continuously uses fuzzy math to cloud the truth. But the truth is plain and simple: Seniors and retirees are paying more in taxes because of Snyder’s tax policies.
An analysis from the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency showed that a retired couple born after 1952 making more than $50,000 a year, including $48,000 in pension benefits, who received the full homestead tax credit, saw their taxes increase by $3,130 under Snyder’s tax changes.
Snyder’s tax policies are putting the squeeze on seniors and retirees who are living on fixed incomes.
There is something relentless about that kind of tax hike, but I think very few people would call it positive. I certainly doubt that retirees who are footing higher tax bills have many positive things to say.
In addition to increasing taxes on seniors, Snyder also cut $1 billion from education. The result is that class sizes are increasing, school quality is hurting, and it’s becoming harder for middle class families to afford college.
After cutting education and raising taxes on seniors, Snyder turned around and doled out a massive $1.8 billion tax cut to businesses – even when they ship Michigan jobs overseas.
This isn’t the right path for Michigan.
As Michigan’s next governor, I will repeal the Snyder Senior Tax. I’ll fight to end tax breaks for companies that leave Michigan workers out in the cold when they ship their jobs overseas. And I’ll make education my top economic priority because I know that good jobs come from a good education.
Protecting the middle class and seniors means something to me. Before running for office, I ran a nonprofit agency that provided critical programs for seniors, such as Meals on Wheels – a program that is now overburdened statewide because of the effects of Snyder’s tax policies. In Congress, I fought against the Paul Ryan budget that would have privatized Social Security and turned Medicare into a voucher program. As governor, I’ll continue that fight to protect retirement security for all Michigan residents.
That’s not just lip service – that’s the kind of action we need to move Michigan forward.

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