Friday, July 28, 2006

Raise the Diesel Tax? NO!

Fuel taxes are 2nd to Property Taxes on my bad list. The Argus had a story about Valde Garcia and his primary challenger Barton Hellmuth. I planned on voting for Garcia anyway, but this article solidifies it.

Hellmuth said more money should be spent to bring school districts that get less money from the state more in line with those at the top of the funding ladder

To pay for that, he recommended some budget cuts in the Corrections Department for spending on "luxuries" to prisoners. He also suggested an increase in the diesel tax, which he said is lower than it is in Indiana and Illinois, to help pay for road repairs.

Raise the tax of something that's already $3 a gallon? You have to be kidding me. That also raises shipping costs more, which raises the cost of everything shipped by truck.

I have an idea to save money. This is going to earn me the wrath of the Michigan Municipal League, but too bad. Consolidation. I think we're one of the few states in the country with townships. There are over 100 elected officials in Livingston County alone. 16 Township Supervisors, Clerks, and Treasurers. 4-6 trustees in every township. Multiply that by 83 counties and you have some serious money. I think the townships should be "unincorporated" and brought to the county level. It's at least something to think about with Michigan's budget.

We should do it in schools as well. Do we need 5 different superintendents and groups of assistant superintendents in our county based schools? Create the Livingston Consilidated School Districts. We can still have the rivalries between schools. Milford and Lakeland are both KVC schools under the same district (Huron Valley). This could save a few bucks with admin salaries at the top, without costing teachers and students.


Communications guru said...

The Michigan Municipal League will most likely not have a serious problem with that pie-in-the-sky scheme, but I’m sure the Michigan Townships Association will.

Mike MacTavish said...

Barton Hellmuth won't be getting my vote. I'm taxed too much as it is.

Keith Richards said...

Remember that a key philosophy of President Reagan was to push down governmental functions to the lowest possible level. Why? Accountability and responsivess. Low level government is much more attuned to the needs of area residents. As a governmental body becomes responsible for larger groups of citizens it becomes less responsive and less accountable to each individual citizen.

If you want good examples of what large, centralized governments can do for us, consider places like Detroit and Flint.

There are some matters that local governments are too small to handle, but for those tasks we have the county, state, and national levels of government.

As for the question of whether other states use this township system, you might be surprised Dan. Thomas Jefferson created the township model and it was used to divide up land in many of the states created after independence where there was no pre-existing land division system. I know for a fact that Indiana still has townships and I bet a lot of other states do too.

Keith Richards said...

I'm no fan of fuel taxes, but I definitely rank the social security tax and the federal income tax higher on the misery scale than fuel taxes.

I dislike the federal tax system especially because it is so complex. Someday when your life gets a bit more complicated and you have to start using the 1040 long form with an assortment of the various diffent schedule forms you will find out what I mean.

The thing I don't like about the social security tax is that current and future generations are getting ripped off because social security was set up like a pyramid scheme with an unsound financial footing. The result is that most people of my generation would have done far better saving for retirement by investing the portion of income going to SS in a good diversified investment fund. To add insult to injury, people who die before collecting on SS lose everything, no matter how many hundreds of thousands of dollars they paid in. At least money in an investment fund gets passed on to heirs.

I don't complain about fuel taxes too much as long as they are used to fund roads and brideges but I cry foul when the legislature transfers road funds into the general fund. The tax on diesel should be the same as the tax on gasoline to be fair to everyone. One thing about the fuel tax is that it is pretty fair - road users should pay for roads. The more you drive the more gas you use and the more taxes you pay. People in hard financial straights can buy economy cars that hardly use any gas at all, thus reducing their tax burden. So while no tax is fun, this is about as fair as it is going to get.