BY LAINA G. STEBBINS, MICHIGAN ADVANCE
LANSING—The Democratic-led Senate on Thursday passed a tax relief bill they say will particularly benefit seniors and working families.
However, Republicans remain vocally opposed to the measure, which passed on party lines.
House Bill 4001 would bring $180 rebate checks for Michiganders and boost the Earned Income Tax Credit from 6% to 30% and roll back the retirement tax. The House passed the measure last week.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and groups like the Michigan League for Public Policy are in support of the initiatives contained in the bill that have been long-sought after by Democrats.
“Today, the Michigan Senate passed the largest tax break for seniors and working families in decades,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Michiganders have been fighting to roll back the retirement tax and boost the Working Families Tax Credit for years, and today, we got it done.
The vote was delayed from last week, when Republicans adjourned the Senate in a surprise move on Feb. 7. The Senate canceled session on Tuesday and Wednesday after the mass shooting at Michigan State University.
Republicans on Thursday objected several times on procedural grounds, then gave lengthy no-vote speeches once the conference report was adopted along party lines.
Among those who objected were Runestad and state Sens. Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Twp.), John DaMoose (R-Harbor Springs), Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), Ruth Johnson (R-Groveland Twp.), Kevin Daley (R-Lum) and Joe Bellino (R-Monroe).
“It isn’t policy; it’s a press release,” DaMoose said.
Daley accused Democrats of “dishonesty” and “secrecy,” and Bellino called the measure a “phishing scam … that would make Bernie Madoff blush.”
House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) also slammed the bill in a statement.
“It’s clear Democrats will stop at nothing to raise income taxes on Michiganders and small businesses, while simultaneously shoveling handouts through a slush fund to large corporations. This game is a far cry from what the people of Michigan wanted when they elected this majority,” Hall said.
State Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) hit back at the accusations.
“No one’s taxes increase with this plan,” Moss said after asking for the volume on his microphone to be raised.
“I’m humored by the dramatics from the other side of the aisle as they oppose what will be the largest tax cut in Michigan in decades. I also rise with bewilderment,” Moss said, as he chastised Republicans for never repealing the income tax or boosting the EITC despite now pushing their own tax proposals while in the minority.
“Meanwhile, our Democratic majority moved on these essential items to a vote in just the first month of this term, and we’re ready to finalize that vote today,” Moss said.
Republicans voted to block the bill from going into effect immediately, as it requires a two-thirds majority vote. After the immediate effect vote failed, the vote was reconsidered and postponed.
“It’s disappointing Republicans blocked efforts to give Michiganders $180 inflation relief checks today, but we’re hopeful they can come together with Democrats to get it done,” Whitmer said in her statement Thursday.
This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.