Government Bytes


Michigan Voters to Decide on Supermajority Taxpayer Protection, Union Power, and More

by Lee Schalk / /

Will voters impose additional limits on government in the Great Lakes State? Michiganders will answer that question and more when they weigh in on the state’s hefty issue slate this fall. A provision to give constitutional weight to government-sector union collective bargaining agreements and a referendum to expand powers for Emergency Managers, combined with a two-thirds majority protection for tax hikes to give Wolverine State voters the power to significantly impact Michigan’s direction.

Of prime significance for taxpayers, Michigan voters have a rare opportunity to pass a measure that would limit the ability of lawmakers to raise taxes. Proposal 5 would require that any future tax hike earns approval from two-thirds of the legislature. In conjunction with other mechanisms to limit tax increases in the state, this could pressure elected officials to close budget gaps with spending restraint instead of more tax increases. Supermajority thresholds like Proposal 5 have enjoyed widespread support in places like Washington and Oklahoma because they place reasonable barriers on the ability of governments to raise taxes.

Here are the most significant propositions for Michigan taxpayers according to NTU's 2012 Ballot Guide:

Proposal 1 is a referendum on a 2011 law, which expanded the powers of emergency managers in cities in financial turmoil. Emergency managers are appointed by the Governor and given the ability to recognize local governments and clean up financial problems. Supporters say that, while it’s not ideal, this may be the only way for some cities to avoid financial collapse.

Proposal 2 is the “Protect Our Jobs” Amendment, widely supported by union leaders in the State. It would give collective bargaining agreements the power of the Constitution.

As mentioned above, Proposal 5 would give taxpayers a proven protection from future tax hikes through a two-thirds “supermajority” in the Legislature or statewide vote.

Proposal 6 has garnered significant attention around the State. This measure would require voter approval for construction of any new bridge or tunnel from Michigan to Canada, projects that could involve government-issued debt or other taxpayer liabilities.

Stay tuned for more on the major state ballot initiatives this election season, and visit our 2012 Ballot Guide page HERE to find your state’s complete slate of propositions, questions, amendments and more.