Rep. Glenn: Funding method for Governor’s roads plan will hurt taxpayers

Annette_-_official_photo.jpgRep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, a member of the budget-setting House Appropriations Committee, on Friday rejected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal in the upcoming fiscal year budget for a 45-cent tax increase on gas, but praised the governor’s call to repeal the 2011 income tax increase on retiree pensions.

Both stances are consistent with what Glenn told residents in Bay and Midland counties last year prior to becoming a state legislator.

Glenn said the 45-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase – which would be phased in over three years and make Michigan’s gas tax the highest in the nation – would hit middle class families and senior citizens hardest. She criticized Whitmer for breaking faith with voters by making the proposal.

“As a candidate last year, Gov. Whitmer expressly told voters she would not increase our gas tax, even saying during one debate that it was ‘ridiculous’ to suggest she would try,” Glenn said. “Now that what the governor claimed was ‘ridiculous’ has become a sad reality only three months into the job, I’m committed to keeping faith with middle class families and senior citizens by protecting them from this attempt to dig even deeper into their family budgets and retirement.

“Instead, Michigan residents have every right to expect our state government to live within its means, just as individuals and families do,” Glenn said. “Plus, it’s critical to keep the tax burden on families and businesses as low as possible to continue creating new jobs and attracting new job creators to mid-Michigan.”

Consistent with that concern, Rep. Glenn praised the governor’s support for bipartisan tax relief legislation to repeal a 2011 law that applied the state income tax to pensions.

“That was one of the issues I heard complaints about most often last year talking to thousands of residents in Bay and Midland counties,” Glenn said. “I applaud the governor for recognizing this unfair burden on senior citizens who’ve paid taxes all their lives, and then are asked to pay taxes a second time on their earnings when they’re living on a fixed income. She can certainly count on my support as a member of the Appropriations Committee to repeal that unfair burden.”

Glenn also praised the governor’s proposal — in addition to general funding of public schools — to maintain funding for ‘at risk’ students. Glenn noted that in the current fiscal year budget, Midland Public Schools received $500,000 for “at risk” students, the first time in the 25-year history of the program that Midland schools received such funding. The other four school districts Glenn represents – Bay City schools in Auburn, Bullock Creek, Meridian, and Pinconning schools – have long received such funding.

But even though Midland is now receiving such funding for the first time, a significant accomplishment, “at risk” students in Midland Public Schools still don’t receive the same amount per pupil as in other districts across the state. Glenn said she is committed to working toward funding parity for “at risk” students statewide, ensuring that such students in Midland receive the same amount of assistance per pupil.

Glenn said she would also support increased funding for an elementary school literacy project included in the current fiscal year budget that has already produced dramatic improvements in the reading scores of students in the Clio school system. Glenn was involved locally last year in winning support for funding the pilot project based on proven techniques used by the Children’s Dyslexia Center in Bay City.

“The state’s new third grade reading law expressly requires that such techniques be used in our public schools,” she said, “and given the extremely encouraging results of the pilot project, we should expand the implementation of these techniques to as many school districts as possible, as quickly as possible. It may prove to be the most effective and cost effective spending in our entire K-12 budget, with the most impact on children’s reading and their ability thereafter to learn and succeed in school and in pursuing their dreams thereafter.”

Glenn is in her first term in the state House of Representatives and as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, also serves on four appropriations subcommittees. She is vice chair of the subcommittees on Health and Human Services and on Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and Insurance and Financial Services, and also serves on the subcommittees on Natural Resources and Environmental Quality and on School Aid and Department of Education.

Citizens who would like to offer input into the state budget can contact Rep. Glenn at annetteglenn@house.mi.gov or at 517-373-1791.