Resources

Tax Proposals Galore

At this point it is unclear what form the state budget will take as we enter the state’s new fiscal year.  We at SBAM are calling for cuts and reforms to the budget.  But not everybody agrees. 

Governor Granholm’s plan calls for increased taxes on bottled water, cigarettes and entertainment tickets.

Rep. George Cushingberry, the House Appropriations Chair, has proposed increased taxes on cell phones, satellite TV, fast food and bottled water.

The “Better Michigan Future” group is calling for a graduated income tax and an expansion of the sales tax to services such as spas, tickets to entertainment and sporting events; and landscaping, among others.

In addition, these proposals call for closing some so-called “tax loopholes” that benefit the business community.  (See related story)

What is a “Tax Loophole”?

This is not the first time these “loopholes” have come up.  Throughout the governor’s tenure, she has proposed closing these “loopholes” but has had little success.  The “loopholes” in question are tax credits that have been allowed for various segments of the business community over the years.

These are not businesses taking advantage of omissions in the tax code that allow them to lower there tax liability, as the phrase “loophole” would normally suggest.  These are legitimate tax credits that the state legislature and governors past and present have enacted to encourage economic development.

There are many of them, and it is not our intent here to debate the merits of specific credits that may be on the chopping block.  We merely want to point out that when you hear that these “business loopholes” may be cut or tightened, the target is not some unsavory business owner cheating on his or her taxes.

Speaking with one voice for structural budget reform – before time runs out!

SBAM is part of an unprecedented coalition of statewide business organizations that are calling on Gov. Granholm and state legislators to significantly structurally reform state government prior to the beginning of the Oct. 1 fiscal year.

Click here and look at the "Spotlight" tab to see a a list of background documents, videos, podcasts and news stories that you, the SBAM member, can use to be informed and make a difference on this issue.

 


SBAM asks Michigan congressional delegation to focus on reforms that will help small business and individuals afford access to quality health insurance

SBAM asks Michigan congressional delegation to focus on reforms that will help small business and individuals afford access to quality health insurance.

SBAM sent the following letter to members of Michigan’s congressional delegation:

Dear Senator/Representative:

As you return from break and take up the debate regarding health care reform, I urge you to focus on reforms that will help small business and individuals afford access to quality health insurance.

Our position on health care issues recognizes the important economic role that small businesses play and the current status of health care issues in our country. Historically, SBAM, as an organization of small businesses, has favored incremental market-based reforms that encourage participation of consumers and purchasers. As one of the nation’s largest small company group-purchasing programs, our experience and those of other small business organizations across the country show that many of the access, and some affordability, problems can be addressed through market-based reforms. If we are serious about reform, we must be dedicated to the empowerment of the people who pay the bills – the customers.
 
Sustainable and workable reform is difficult business and will impact our country for decades to come. We cannot overstress the importance of this effort to the Michigan delegation and your colleagues from across the country; take your time in drafting legislation, consider the consequences and the unintended consequences and remember who pays the bills. Please consider:

  • The single biggest difficulty that small businesses have with health care is cost. The bills currently being considered will not reform the costs in the health care system. Simply put, they fail to bring down the cost of health care and, therefore, health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said that H.R. 3200 lacks the necessary controls on spending, and that it will make our long-term outlook on budget deficits worse.
  • One of the most famous quotes from Abraham Lincoln reads, “You don’t make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak” but the House bill imposes taxes, fees and penalties of $800 billion over ten years that will add new costs to those currently covered. Taxing those currently covered to pay for those currently uninsured will drive more people to drop coverage and will have the exact opposite impact that some desire.
  • A government-run public health insurance plan will crowd out private insurance through an unlevel playing field. Please recognize the public plan for what it is – the first step on a path to nationalized health insurance.
  • Take time to understand that the uninsured are not one homogeneous group and that “one size fits all” reform will not work. Of the 47 million uninsured: 4.7 million (10%) are college students; 10 million (21.28%) are non-citizens; 11 million (23.40%) are eligible for, but not enrolled in public programs like SCHIP and Medicaid; 9 million (19.15%) live in a household with annual income above $75,000. These numbers total 34.7 million of the 47 million uninsured. Said differently, 12 million are what most people consider as making too much for a public program and not enough to afford coverage. It is for these people that a solution needs to be found.

The Small Business Association of Michigan urges you to oppose the current bills and draft bipartisan legislation that builds on the system that today works for 85% of all Americans. In what setting other than health care would anyone recommend radically upending a system that works 85% of the time for the 15% that doesn’t work?

What is the role of the federal government? Consider this package of reform:

  • Concentrate on making health care more affordable and accessible by working on efforts to contain the costs and improve the quality of care through best-practice guidelines, pay for perf

350 small businesses join SBAM in August

Click here to see the list of 350 Michigan small businesses that joined SBAM in August, 2009.

"SBAM's total membership of nearly 6,000 demonstrates the strong value that small businesses place on being a part of this dynamic organization," said SBAM's Vice President for Sales & Marketing Barry Robinson. "Small business owners understand that when they band together through SBAM, they can achieve much more than they can on their own."

Click here to learn more about how to use SBAM's resources to save time, save money and grow your business.

Click here to take action on legislative and regulatory issues that affect the success of your business operation.

Not a member yet? Click here to join today!

 


Health Care – Focus on Market-Based Reforms (SBAM policy backgrounder)

By Scott Lyon, Vice President Small Business Services

SBAM’s position on health care issues recognizes the important economic role that small businesses play and the current status of health care issues in our country. Historically, SBAM (as an organization of small businesses) has favored incremental market-based reforms that encourage participation of consumers and purchasers. As one of the nation’s largest small company group-purchasing programs, our experience and those of other small business organizations show that many of the access, and some affordability, problems can be addressed through market-based reforms. If we are serious about reform, we must be dedicated to the empowerment of the people who pay the bills – the customers.

We believe that much good could come through a package of reform that includes four key areas:

  1. Cost Controls – electronic medical records, e-prescribing, reducing waste, fraud and abuse; providing comparative data on health costs, success rates, infection, morbidity and mortality rates inside facilities, favorable tax treatment for whomever pays the premium.
  2. Individual Responsibility - SBAM supports an individual mandate as a way to reduce costs by getting those that should be insured into the risk pools. No more waiting until you are sick to buy insurance or push costs to the insured.
  3. Insurance Reform – including moving to guaranteed issue with limited or no pre-existing conditions and very strict rules around re-underwriting or recession of a plan.
  4. Medical Malpractice/Tort Reform – here we are not just talking about the cost of medical malpractice insurance and the awards granted by juries. Just as important are the billions of dollars spent annually on defensive medicine.

We believe that taken as a package, these four steps could significantly reduce the cost of insurance for small businesses and individuals.

Now, assuming you agree with that statement, why is more not being done, or better yet, why have we as a nation been struggling with question for the better part of 20 years? Well, here is one Washington insider’s take on this issue. As you read through these statements, think about what you are hearing from the President, Congress and varying special interests across the spectrum:

  • The U.S. health care system is so complex that a two-to-five year period of discussion is not long enough to achieve a successful policy solution to most problems.
  • The ideological positions of the Republicans and Democrats are so opposed and so strongly held by lawmakers that few can accept as valid a compromise bill that would use elements of both positions to address a problem.
  • The power of competing industry, consumer and other interest groups in our money-dependent political system is so strong that no “compromise” bill is acceptable if it can be perceived by one interest group to give greater weight to the concern of other competing groups.
  • Because some health issues poll strongly with voters, members of one party – usually the minority party – prefer to keep the issue alive to attract voters in an upcoming election rather than seeing a limited measure enacted into law.
  • There is general unspoken agreement that it is not important to produce actual law on some matters; simply keeping the issue on the burner with ongoing discussions between lawmakers and interest groups can lead to real-world changes that make a difference that are market-driven, not government-driven.
  • Despite grousing by some, the U.S. health care system has no problems major enough to warrant large, federally-driven solutions.
  • Policymakers who are deeply concerned about the outcome of a given issue fear that once it has been dealt with through a modest consensus measure, the probabi

Small Business Champion Podcast: Progress or Treading Budget Water? (5:52)

This week, SBAM's Vice President Communications Michael Rogers talks with SBAM’s Vice President Government Relations David Palsrok about recent developments in the battle to balance the state budget. Click here to listen. The weekly Small Business Champion podcast is the place where you can get the scoop on what’s really happening in Lansing and Washington, D.C., and what it means to your bottom line.

Granholm plan called "repeat of same budget behavior"

Statement from Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan, in reaction to the state budget plan released today by Gov. Granholm:

“Small business owners are concerned that the plan is mostly a repeat of the same budget behavior we’ve seen in previous years: a mix of cuts, tax hikes and so-called loophole closings. We’ve seen that recipe before and it’s not getting any more palatable. The long term future of this state depends on greater state government efficiency and lower spending. As we noted in a series of statewide press conferences on Sept. 8, we urgently need to significantly reform state government and not continuously apply Band-Aid solutions.”

 


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