Democrats, Republicans in 20th District Michigan Senate race lay out positions at forum
A question that sparked some of the strongest responses, mostly negative, was whether to increase the beer tax by 4 cents per can, generating almost $90 million a year for the state.
“That’s just a drop in the bucket; that is not enough to cure all ills,” Schuitmaker said.
Plus, she said, she has visited with proprietors of “corner stores,” which she called important job providers, and “their concern was that it would significantly hurt their business.”
DeShazor echoed her comments, saying “they have a very thin profit margin.”
“The problem of picking on taxes like the beer tax,” Jones said, “is you're not including everyone in the process.”
“Right now, given the state of our economy, the answer is not to raise taxes,” Totten added.
Only Wenke said he would consider raising the beer tax, which he said hasn’t been increased in many years. He said lobbyists for beer companies court legislators with food and cash gifts. “It’ll probably cost me some money talking to you about it,” he said.
Asked whether they favored a graduated income tax — which KCASI members support — over the state’s current flat-tax system, the candidates split along party lines.
“It allows for a fairer way of collecting taxes,” said Jones, who said he favored putting it to a public vote. The vote would be necessary because it would require a constitutional amendment.
Totten said it was not a radical idea, particularly since it is used in the federal government.
But DeShazor said “a graduated income tax would be a disaster right now,” and Schuitmaker and Wenke both said they would be opposed to it if it came to a vote of the people, with Schuitmaker saying more people might leave Michigan if the change were approved.