Small Business Reacts to State of the State Address

Date: February 01, 2021

No Local Gas Tax and Registration Fees

Michigan’s leading advocate for small business, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), offered observations on Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State Address:

On the Governor’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan and supplemental budget request, NFIB State Director Charlie Owens was less than enthusiastic. “While being appreciative of any effort to help small businesses struggling from the pandemic, the governor’s proposal, after unrelated projects are subtracted, leaves only $107 million for actual direct assistance to small business,” said Owens. “This is in contrast to the House Republican recovery proposal that includes $680.5 million in assistance to businesses.”

Regarding the governor’s proposals for improving the economy and jobs, Owens said the most important move the governor could make is to relax the shutdowns and restrictions and open Michigan’s economy. “Federal and state efforts to assist small business are not practical nor sustainable over an extended period,” said Owens. “Small business in Michigan wants to work, to be open, to provide jobs, and to bring back their employees to work, letting them do so will boost our economy sooner than any government program or plan.”

The governor’s efforts to permanently extend unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks is a non-starter for small business said Owens. “The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is already on the edge of being depleted and employers will be on the hook for loans from the federal government to continue paying benefits as it is now,” said Owens. “There is no shortage of available jobs now and with the economy reopened there would be no need for extending benefits.”

“The proposal to expand local road funding options is something our small business members do not support,” said Owens. “Small business owners fear that allowing local governments to create their own gas taxes and vehicle registration fees would lead to a patchwork of local taxes around the state that would encourage motorists to drive elsewhere for gas or avoid moving into areas with these new fees and taxes. They are also concerned that local governments would purposely hold the voting on local road taxes on election dates when turn out is low to increase the likelihood of passage.”

Owens said the real key to getting Michigan back on track is to restore the legislature’s role in policymaking and end the unilateral management of the state’s affairs by the Executive Branch. “It is time to remove the obstacles imposed by the governor, and the agencies under her direct control, that are hindering the ability of small business to return Michigan to the prosperity that existed before the coronavirus pandemic,” said Owens. “The most important part of that objective will be to restore the rightful role of the legislature in policy making and governance.”

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