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Thu March 31, 2011
Snyder and Republican leaders point to progress and sticking points
Governor Snyder, House Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville say they have worked well together to approve many measures so far this year – including the expansion of power for emergency financial managers.
But one area they do not seem to agree on is how and where to reform taxes.
Richardville said "we actually have been disagreeing quite a bit," but he says those disagreements are fine because they are still listening to each other.
"It’s not about disagreement, it’s about passion. Everybody that got elected ran as hard as they could to get here, and is passionate about getting here," said Richardville, "but we have respect for the other passions in the room, so we’re going to get there."
Disagreement over taxing pensions
One area where they disagree is Governor Snyder’s proposal to tax pensions.
Snyder says he stands by his plan, even after receiving a cool reception from many Republican legislators:
"For higher income people, for people who have the wherewithal to say they’re also contributing to our system – I think that’s a fair answer. Because that’s the part of it that is, people shouldn’t just look at what they’re asked to give up, but when you look at where they’re ending up. Are they being treated fairly in respect to the other citizens in our state?”
Governor Snyder often stresses that low-income people on pensions would not be subject to painful tax increases.
Some Republicans state senators say there is no pension tax they would agree to, even one that only focuses on the very wealthy.
Democrats feel left out
Democratic lawmakers say they have been left out of negotiations so far.
Democratic state Senator Bert Johnson says many of the Republican proposals are the reason why thousands of angry people have protested at the Capitol in recent weeks.
"I think we would do well – all of us here in this Legislature – to realize what it being said out on the front steps of the Capitol, what is being said out on the lawns of the Capitol. I think these are not crazy people – these are people who have elected all of us. These are people who go out, and they vote, and they vote in numbers and they’re carrying their concerns to the Capitol."
Johnson says Democratic lawmakers have been ignored in much of the work that has been done so far. He says Snyder will soon find that he needs Democratic votes as he tries to approve parts of his tax plan that are unpopular with Republicans.