SBAM op ed opposing sales tax-on-services published in today’s Detroit Free Press

SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler authored an op-ed that appeared in today’s Detroit Free Press. The text of the op-ed:

"First of all, let me say that I agree that the state of Michigan, and in particular our schools, need revenue. We have differences of opinion over priorities and precise levels of funding, but in the end we must have some amount of revenue every year to fund vital services like educating our children.

The question is how to generate that revenue. I disagree with the proposal that the best way to meet the revenue needs of state government and public education is by imposing a sales tax on services. That’s a tax hike, plain and simple, and it increases the overall tax burden on struggling Michigan citizens.

We need to get away from the tired old prescription of addressing revenue shortfalls by automatically seeking additional taxes. Part of the solution involves structural reform of state spending that makes state government operate more efficiently and live within its means. That makes perfect sense to small business owners. These entrepreneurs across Michigan have worked ceaselessly, and made tremendous sacrifices, to find ways to live within their means. They expect state government to do no less and are very impatient with the business-as-usual attitude they perceive in Lansing.

But you may be surprised to hear me suggest that another important part of the solution is growing government revenues, but growing them the right way – not by expanding the tax burden but by fostering a vigorous and prosperous state economy, an economy that provides an appropriate level of tax revenue that meets the needs of public services and schools without levying an undue tax burden on the private sector.

A thriving economy begins with entrepreneurial business growth that energizes job creation and boosts incomes. That in turn generates revenue for government. But a sales tax on services hurts consumers and hurts small businesses by taking dollars out of their pockets, and away from business growth in the private economy, and transferring an even higher percentage of private resources to the public sector. That’s exactly the wrong formula for solving our economic woes.

We’re at a tipping point in Michigan’s economy. We can either add more taxes, in the form of a sales tax on services that further burdens our struggling consumers, or we can take down barriers to business and income growth. Meeting Michigan’s revenue needs begins with expanding Michigan’s economy, continues with real structural spending reforms and concludes with a higher level of prosperity that benefits everyone in our state."

See the op-ed online at the Detroit Free Press Web site.

(What do you think of SBAM's policy on sales tax on services? We welcome your comments, pro or con, in the comment section below. Or, join the conversation in our Forum.)



(Audio) The Small Business Champion Podcast: Legislation Would Require Michigan Government Workers to Have a 20% Co-Pay on Health Coverage (7:19)

This week, Michael Rogers talks with long-time small business advocate Paul Hense about Paul’s legislative testimony in Lansing in favor of a measure that would require all government employees to have a 20% co-pay on their health insurance benefits. Paul is a Grand Rapids-based CPA, long time small business advocate and a past chair of SBAM.


Click here to listen.


Green Energy Entrepreneur Featured Speaker at 2010 Michigan Celebrates Small Business

Nationally-known green energy entrepreneur (and past SBAM board member) Maria Thompson of Ann Arbor is the featured speaker at the April 29 Michigan Celebrates Small Business event in Lansing.

Ms. Thompson was President and CEO of T/J Technologies, Inc., a nationally recognized Michigan company for proprietary alternative energy technologies that she and her husband, Dr. Levi Thompson, co-founded in 1991. T/J Technologies was acquired by A123Systems Inc. in 2006. She now runs the Government Solutions Group of A123Systems. A123Systems is known internationally for its Nanophosphate™ lithium ion battery technology for electric vehicles, hybrid electric and plug in hybrid vehicles, grid stabilization, power tools, defense and aerospace.

Tickets for Michigan Celebrates Small Business are $135 per person or receive a 20% discount and reserve a table of eight for $850. The evening includes a cocktail reception, an address by Governor Granholm, awards dinner and keynote by Maria Thompson. Black tie is optional. Michigan Celebrates Small Business will be held at the Lansing Center in Lansing. To register by phone, call Pam Lantrip at 800.362.5461 or register online at

Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a premier annual program to recognize entrepreneurs and small business supporters in a variety of categories. The program is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Small Business Administration – Michigan, the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center and the Edward Lowe Foundation.

Underwriters for this year’s Michigan Celebrates Small Business event are National City (now a part of PNC), Clark Hill PLC, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Certified Development Corporation, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America and Dynamic Edge Inc.

Media partners for Michigan Celebrates Small Business are MiBiz, Crain’s Detroit Business, Upper Peninsula Business Today, the Traverse City Business News, Michigan Radio,, WWJ Newsradio 950 and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly.


Detroit-Area Presentation March 10 on Health Care Reform

Hoover & Associates Financial Services, Inc. is hosting a Lunch and Learn in Troy on Wednesday, March 10, on “How will Health Care Reform in Washington impact your business?” The guest speaker will be Karl W. Albrecht, CEBS, President of Action Benefits, a leading Managing Agency for Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Blue Care Network. Most recently Karl was awarded the 2006 NAHU Distinguished Service Award.


Business owners with group plan needs, benefit directors/administrators, small business advisors, CPAs and attorneys would benefit from attending.


This event has limited seating. To RSVP call Gail Moody at 248-298-4000 or email:


Topics covered in the program:


  • When might reform happen?
  • Who will it affect?
  • Who is likely to pay for it?
  • What should businesses do now to plan for it?


Guests will have substantial time to ask questions.


Election 2010

Dan Kildee has announced that he is running for the Democratic nomination for Governor.  Ever since the departure of Lt. Gov. John Cherry from the gubernatorial race in early January, potential candidates have been getting in and out of the race.

Kildee is the former Genesee County Treasurer and the nephew of Congressman Dale Kildee.  He had been weighing his decision since the Cherry announcement.  Kildee’s official entry into the race means that the Democratic field of candidates may be set.

The current field includes (since you’ve probably lost track) Kildee, State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.  House Speaker Andy Dillon has a campaign committee, but has not officially announced his candidacy as of yet.  However, it is expected that he will also join the fray.

Senate Joins House in Passing Lifetime Benefits Ban

Both the House and Senate have now passed a bill that would end the so-called lifetime health benefits that lawmakers currently receive. 

Currently if a lawmaker serves at least six years, they are eligible to receive retiree health benefits when they reach age 55.  The passage of HB 4194 would remove that benefit for future legislators, governors and other state elected officials.

The bill was amended in the Senate, so it must go back to the House to concur with the changes.  This measure is one of the reforms that Gov. Granholm called for in her State of the State address, so she is expected to sign it when it reaches her desk.