Reduce taxes to grow the population

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By Sen. Jack Brandenburg
8th Senate District

I recently introduced Senate Bill 4, which calls for the repeal of our state income tax over a period of five years. I am advocating this legislation because we need to give our residents much-needed tax relief, and I want very much to grow our population back. Compared to other states, our population has barely grown in the last six years.

From 2010 to 2016, Michigan grew in population by a paltry 44,000 people, while North Carolina grew by over 390,000 in that time frame. Texas grew by 2.7 million people, Washington grew by 563,000 and South Dakota grew more than Michigan at 51,000 people. These are compelling numbers and we must ask ourselves what these states are doing that we are not.

We must ask ourselves why, in 1967, we had 19 congressional districts, but we now have only 14. That is a loss of one third of our voting power. Other states are gaining power because they are adding population, but Michigan is falling further behind. We have less population today than we did in 2006. In the 2010 census, Michigan was the only state in the Union to lose population. We lost 54,800 people.

Michigan needs a game-changer. I believe that the repeal of the state income tax is just the stimulus we need to increase our population. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has stated: “Not having a state income tax is our state’s greatest selling point.” I have a better one: “Michigan is a right-to-work state and oh, by the way, we do not have a state income tax either.” That is powerful, but what is even more powerful is putting more money in our residents’ hands for them to spend.

There are seven states in the U.S. that do not have an income tax: Texas, Florida, Nevada, Washington, South Dakota, Alaska and Wyoming. From 2010 through 2016, in population, Texas grew by 10.8 percent; Florida grew by 9.6 percent; Nevada by 8.9 percent; Washington by 8.4 percent; South Dakota by 6.3 percent; Alaska by 4.5 percent and Wyoming by 3.9 percent. Michigan grew by only .004 percent.

These seven states are putting up gains that Michigan is not even coming close to. These gains spell out a heavy duty increase of revenue. As this process unfolds, we will have more money for tax cuts, infrastructure, education, our rainy day fund and a lot more.

What is not surprising is the difference in personal income per capita when you compare Michigan to six of these states. Personal income per capita as of 2015 in Michigan was $42,427. In Alaska, it is $54,012. In Washington, it is $49,610. In Wyoming, it is $54,584. In South Dakota, it is $45,279. In Texas, it is $45,669 and in Florida, $42,737. This represents a 14.2 percent difference in personal income when you compare these six states to Michigan. Only Nevada had less personal income than Michigan.

We need to attract new residents and businesses to Michigan. We need to motivate residents who have left to come back. In short, once again, we need a game changer. I am convinced that repealing our state income tax would do just that.

State Sen. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, represents Michigan’s 8th District.

This editorial originally appeared in the Detroit News.