Debate looms over dividing state surplus

Capital News Service
LANSING – Tax cuts or a tax rebate? Pensions or a bailout for Detroit? While there isn’t a simple way to get lawmakers to agree about what to do with an expected $971 million surplus in state revenue, economists have a simple message:
Don’t get too excited. “The amount involved is quite small relative to the whole budget,” said Doug Roberts, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University. “It won’t have a major impact either way.

Higher incentives boost film projects

Capital News Service
LANSING — Because tax incentives for film production recently doubled, Margaret O’Riley of Fenton, new head of the Michigan Film Office, said efforts to promote films and digital projects in the state will be unceasing. The state-funded program reimburses part of the cost of film and digital media projects produced in Michigan. Last year, incentives were cut dramatically from $115 million in 2010 to $25 million. But this year, the office can offer $58 million incentives, which include $50 million for the new fiscal year, plus an additional $8 million rolled over from 2011. “It would be a game changer for Michigan’s film industry,” said Rick Hert, film commissioner at the West Michigan Film Office in Grand Rapids.

Low-income families need tax cuts too, advocates say

Capital News Services
LANSING – As the federal government debates whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy,some experts say tax cuts should be available even to low-income people. Judy Putnam, press officer of the Michigan League of Human Services, says it’s commonly accepted by the federal government that low-income people do not pay taxes. “This is simply not true. Everybody is contributing their fair share,” she said. The organization’s new report, “Got Skin in the Game?” argues that low-income households in need of government assistance do, in fact, pay taxes.

Those state tax changes – Are they fair to young, old?

Capital News Service
LANSING – Debates about taxes on pensions and the middle class continue to rage in the Capitol with different groups disputing their fairness. In the run-up to November’s House election, Democrats are attacking changes by the Republican-led Legislature that they say punish middle-class families, including a pension tax, reduced homestead property tax credit, reduced Earned Income Tax Credit and elimination of the $600 per child deduction. But Gov. Rick Snyder said, “It is important to leave retirement pensions as they are for our citizens age 67 and older. We are able to move forward with a revised plan that still adheres to the principles I laid out with my budget and tax initiatives, will create jobs and protect the safety net for Michigan families.”
And Ari Adler, press secretary to House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, said the Republicans are trying to reset the system to achieve fairness. “That’s why there are no pension exemptions until age 67,” Adler said.