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Jim Hightower outlines in a well-researched piece the dictatorial nature of the Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder's Emergency Manager Law (PA 4) to be challenged on the 2012 Michigan Ballot Proposal #1 in November and its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and implications to both Michigan and other US States.

UPDATE: Vote NO on Voter Referendum Proposal #1 - the ballot language may be confusing:

PROPOSAL 12-1
A REFERENDUM ON PUBLIC ACT 4 OF 2011 – THE EMERGENCY MANAGER LAW

Public Act 4 of 2011 would:

  • Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
  • Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.
  • Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.
  • Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved consent decree.

    Should this law be approved?
    Yes __
    NO, NO, NO, NO!  X

In the piece “There's Been a Dictatorial Coup -- Koch Bros. Have a Bunch of Czars Running Cities Across Michigan” on Septmber 25, 2012, Under the Subtitle of “Michigan Goes Bezerk” here is social justice and labor activist Jim Hightower:
"Rick Snyder must've studied there [Garry Trudau’s fictional “Great Bezerkistan”], for he had barely taken his oath of office before suddenly teaming with leaders of the Republican-controlled statehouse and senate to ram into law an astonishing measure of despotic rule. It only took two weeks in March of 2011 for the ponderously titled "Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act" [LGSDFA Act] to be rushed through both houses of the legislature and signed by Snyder. Before the public knew it--BAM! --the governor was authorized to establish his own autocratic republic: Michiganistan.

At bottom, the LGSDFA Act is a doozy of autocratic mischief-making. It lets the governor seize control of any local government he deems to be in fiscal trouble, suspend the people's democratic authority, impose a corporatized version of martial law, and install his own "emergency financial manager" to govern by diktat (like some hybrid of Soviet czar and tinhorn potentate--a Bmzklfrpz, in other words)."

Actually the Michigan Emergency Manager Law also allows for the seizure of whole school districts too. Why does Hightower call this a “coup”? Because in his words:
This isn't merely un-democratic--it's aggressively anti-democratic.
Hightower, who has frequently appeared and visited in Michigan for many years, goes right to the heart of Michigan woes, and why CEO Snyder’s approach is just hitting the poor, to support more special interest tax breaks for Michigan corporations (several of which did not pay ANY federal taxes between 2008-2010) and the Michigan hyper-politically active mega-wealthy like the DeVos clan and Snyder’s personal business cronies. Again Hightower:
That's just mendacious political claptrap spewed by those wanting an excuse to impose their anti-union, government-shriveling, privatizing, partisan agenda on vulnerable people.

It's no accident that the cities presently under state siege (including Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, and Pontiac) are heavily populated with low-income, union, African American, Democratic-voting households. While it's true that these places are in deep budgetary holes, there are real reasons for [Michigan's] fiscal woes, including:
.

  • The implosion of the auto industry that's central to these local economies, resulting in massive joblessness and drastically downsized family incomes.
  • The tanking of housing values, destroying the one source of wealth that working people had, creating a sudden plummeting of property tax collections that finance schools and city services.
  • The grim (and largely successful) corporate campaign to crush unions and bust middle-class wages.
  • US trade policies and tax subsidies that encouraged Michigan corporations to move manufacturing offshore, eliminating good jobs and forcing a large number of former taxpayers to leave their cities in search of work.

Oh, let's not forget another major cause that Snyder & Company don't want discussed: [Snyder’s] $1 billion cut in corporate taxes. This increased the state's budget hole, which he helped fill by slashing or eliminating state funds and tax credits that went to local school districts, low-income workers, and seniors.

(Emphasis Added)

Hightower could have added any number of additional actions taken by Snyder (and Snyder's Engler staffers using the same bag of tricks) and the ALEC invested, GOP controlled Michigan State Legislature including: eliminating tax credits for charities, reduction and restrictions in food stamps, redefinition of “seasonal employment” and reduction in unemployment benefits for most low incomes, and the reduction of the Michigan portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and its ripple effect, just to name a few.

What is happening in Michigan?
The Michigan League of Human Services in their analysis said back in February 2012 in “Historic tax shift hits low-income families 1,000 times harder: Top 1 percent of wealthiest households pay a pittance on average” stated:

Michigan’s wealthiest households — the top 1 percent — will be barely touched by income tax changes approved last year by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature, while all other groups will pay substantially more in income taxes, a new analysis from the Michigan League for Human Services concludes.

"Tax Changes Hit Low-Income Families the Hardest" [Report in .pdf] finds that the lowest-income households, those earning less than $17,000 a year, will pay the most in new taxes as a share of their income (1 percent). But the top 1 percent, those earning $334,000 or more, pays the least – only an average of $7 more or .001 percent.  That’s an impact of 1,000 times more on the lowest-income households.

“This is clear evidence that the sweeping tax changes approved last year picked winners and losers. Working poor families and seniors paid the biggest price to help pay for business tax cuts while the most wealthy households were barely asked to contribute,’’ said Michigan League for Human Services President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs. “It’s apparent that those at the top who are the most able to help were given a complete pass.’’

The tax increases, which begin to take effect in 2012, will raise $1.4 billion more in income taxes that paid for a business tax cut of $1.6 billion. More than half of Michigan taxpayers will pay more in individual income taxes while two-thirds of all businesses will pay no state business income taxes at all.

(Emphasis Added)

What we see now in Michigan is a long line of 1% and business special interests passing bills right and left more rad-right, many of them ALEC models or potential ALEC models. Many of these businesseses and their lobbyists are directly represented in both Rick Snyder Administration and the Tea Party Republican State Legislature that include organizations like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce (i.e. Snyder Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore) , the Insurance, Chemical and Energy industry lobbyists (like Richard D. McLellan founder or the Mackinac Center and lead insurance lobbyist and former Citizen United legal team, and the Business Leaders for Michigan (the real guys behind Rick Snyder selection as candidate for governor, and who also funded Democratic primary candidate for governor, former Democratic Party State House Speaker, Andy Dillon, also a former Republican, that is now the head of Emergency Management in Michigan, as Michigan State Treasurer).

Corporatocracy isn’t coming to Michigan, it’s here, and as long as leadership in the opposition, both party leaders and union leaders, fail to see just how Michigan is now the laboratory of choice for new ALEC models and strategies (the latest here is diversion of public education funding led by McLellan), what happens in Michigan matters to the rest of you too.

Related POST: Hightower: Sneaking the Plutocratic Agenda Into (Michigan) State Law (June 2011)

UPDATE: Read Kossack Electablog's latest crusher on Michigan EM Law and the GOP or follow his EM Law tag.

RECOMMENDED for more information on ALEC - LINKS:
INVESTIGATION of ALEC in Michiganlong history and background
REPORT on Michigan ALEC - current bills/laws and members
BILL to stop ALEC in MichiganALEC Accountability Bill
STORY of Michigan Gov Rick Snyder and ALECDisaster Capitalism and Attacks on Public Education

For more on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on Kos visit ALECexposed.org (new report on ALEC ties to GOP and the Heritage Foundation) or for industrial strength investigations on ALEC go to Kos contributor collaborative work on VLTP.net (on Lifetime ALEC Memberships and Federal Task Force, ALEC International activities, ALEC corruption in the Federal Government and Agencies, ALEC in our nation’s courts and the ALEC Amicus Brief Project, and the latest call for another IRS investigation.)
Cross-posted to Blogging for Michigan - Permission to repost granted by authors.

Originally posted to Hector Solon on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project.

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