Public Officials Using Tax Dollars To Lobby for Higher Taxes

“An insult to Michigan taxpayers”

For Immediate Release
Feb. 2, 2007
Contact: Diane S. Katz
Director of Science, Environment & Technology

MIDLAND — For the past year, Michigan municipalities, public universities and public hospitals have been spending tax dollars on a coordinated public relations campaign for higher state taxes, writes Diane S. Katz of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy on the Center’s Web site today. "That these groups are using tax dollars to lobby for higher taxes is an insult to Michigan taxpayers and contrary to the best interests of the state," she says. "The groups’ message is that in the midst of Michigan’s economic slowdown, workers, families and businesses should sacrifice in order to make budget decisions easier for government officials."

The campaign for higher taxes — dubbed, ironically, the "Michigan Fiscal Responsibility Project" — is being run by a Lansing public relations firm hired by the Michigan Municipal League; the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan; and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. In her Web site commentary, Katz observes, "It is routine for groups like the League, Presidents Council and hospital association to lobby legislators for specific appropriations related to their budgets. In this instance, however, they are pressing lawmakers for higher taxes, which constitutes political activism of a much greater magnitude."

Katz’s essay also highlights a key problem with the groups’ campaign: "What they fail to acknowledge is that state government wastes enormous sums of money on all sorts of projects and schemes that are wholly unrelated to its core functions. Simply put, Michigan has a budget shortfall because Lansing spends too much, not because it collects too little." Given the coalition’s emphasis on higher state revenues, she writes, the groups "are spending public funds in pursuit of tax increases that will benefit them and reduce the need to control their budgets."

Katz’s commentary is available on the Web at