Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 13, 2013

Another View: Snyder would likely veto bill

By the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Howell

— State Sen. Joe Hune does not like taxes much. And he abhors tax increases.

The Livingston County Republican thinks Michigan businesses and residents pay too much in taxes.

He’ll run for re-election to a second and final (again, because of term limits) four-year term in 2014. ... he will make it clear that he will never, never, never vote for a tax hike.

He’s been more than true to his word, even to the point of opposing the governor, a fellow Republican, on a controversial tax on pension incomes.

When businessman Rick Snyder became governor after the 2010 elections, he quickly pushed through major reforms ...

He did so, even though he dug a deep financial hole by eliminating the much-despised Michigan Business Tax, a welcome change to many even though it took away a billion dollars in annual revenue.

Snyder countered that budget hole by slashing education funding, taking funds away from low-income workers and eliminating an exemption that had protected pensions from the state income tax.

Hune voted against the tax on pensions. Now that it is in effect, he’s introduced legislation to return the exemption. ...

“I told everybody I wasn’t going to raise their taxes,” said Hune. “I can’t say I’m not going to raise your taxes, then raise your taxes. It just didn’t seem right to me.”

The Snyder camp justified the tax on pensions for several reasons. Many other states impose the tax. It only affects those with pensions more than $20,000 (or over $40,000 if filing jointly). Social Security payments remain exempt. Taxing pensions is no different that taxing IRA or 401(k) withdrawals. ...

Such reasoning doesn’t sway Hune. He opposes tax hikes on principle, and his office is fielding phone calls from people newly aware of the change as they prepare their tax returns.

They are angry. He says he doesn’t blame them.

Hune’s effort to reinstate the pension exemption may face long odds.

It’s possible that he could pick up Democratic votes in what would be an “Odd Couple” pairing. But the pension tax is a cornerstone of Snyder’s budget reform. If Hune’s bill did pass, Snyder would likely veto it.

For as much as Hune bases his campaigns on opposing taxes, Snyder has made it clear he doesn’t make his decisions based on the next election.

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Howell