More on UP Health Care System Owners, Broadband Availability in the UP, Taxes, Taxes and Taxes, and an Update on Dark Store Legislation

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More on UP Health Care System Owners

Apollo Global Management Inc., an investment firm, and its CEO Leon Black, have expressed an interest in owning one of the United Kingdom’s largest gambling groups, William Hill Plc.

The British bookmaker is said to have a market value of about 3.1 billion pounds (about $4 billion USD). William Hill Plc is also a partner in the Las Vegas casino Caesars.

Looks interesting. Maybe slot machines and blackjack tables in the lobby of the LifePoint Hospitals in the UP. Some entertainment may await you wait for your next appointment or procedure.

Broadband Availability in the UP

Parents of school-age children are in a time when their children are facing school closures and more online learning for K-12 age students. At the same time, there is limited access to the internet in rural areas, including some areas of the UP.

We are hearing reports of families having to sit in parking lots of businesses and institutions with free wireless access so their children can have access to the internet. As the weather turns colder, this becomes more difficult.

If you live in one of those areas with limited internet services, please let us know what issues you are having and its impact on the education of your children. We are looking into this issue across the Upper Peninsula.

Taxes, Taxes and Taxes

Rural Insights will continue a series of articles on Michigan taxes and how they impact where we live and how we fund our local and state governments.

Governments basically function on revenue from taxes and fees as well as borrowing money to operate the government. We are living in a time where we are seeing large reductions in local and state revenue due to less taxes being paid because of large unemployment and business reductions in revenue–all related to the pandemic era we live in.

That means government has less money to provide services to us. So government has to cut/reduce services and programs/people, or it has to raise taxes or create new taxes.

All of this always raises the issue of is the current tax or the new tax a fair tax or a tax hike. Who should pay the tax burden–businesses, individuals, tourists, etc.

Often the answer is “someone else other than me should pay the tax,” but that does not work in writing tax policy or operating government.

Michigan has a flat income tax (everyone pays the same tax rate), while some states have a graduated income tax (the more you earn, the higher your tax rate). Michigan graduated income tax advocates have tried several times to get it adopted in our state.

Our neighbor, the state of Illinois, has at the top of its November 3rd ballot “whether the Illinois Constitution should be amended to replace a mandated flat-rate income tax with a graduated tax structure that increases the levy as income rises.” (Chicago Tribune, 9.18.2020).

Over the next few months we will take a look at Michigan taxes, including dark-store taxes, graduated income tax policy, hotel tax, road tax, corporate taxes, property taxes, etc.

Our goal is not to advocate for one or the other but to provide information on these taxes for our readers so they can make up their own minds on how we all want to fund our governments and government services–what is the fairest way to apply taxes in Michigan.

Dark Store Taxes Michigan and the UP–Update

UP legislators Senator Ed McBroom and Representative Sara Cambensy have legislation that closes the dark store tax loophole used by big box stores in the UP and throughout Michigan.

Walmart, Lowes, and Meijer have all recently been active at the Michigan Tax Tribunal advocating for applying the tax loophole to their UP businesses. Senator McBroom has introduced Senate Bill 26 which would “close the dark store loophole by revising the way property taxes are assessed on vacant big box stores and by ending the process of placing deed restrictions on closed stores, which is a scheme used to lower a building’s market value.” (Office of Senator McBroom).

SB 26 was recently given a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Escanaba City Manager Patrick Jordan testified in support of SB 26 in the committee. You can read both bills on www.michigan.gov/legislature. You can also see who is cosponsoring the legislation in both houses and what the position is on the bills of other UP legislators.

Both Senator McBroom and Representative Cambensy have been opposing Governor Whitmer’s appointment of Ms. Victoria Enyart to the Michigan Tax Tribunal because of her support in the past for the dark store tax loophole.

They appeared before the Senate Advice and Consent Committee and were joined by former Marquette Township Manager Randy Girard. You can send in your own thoughts and position on this appointment to your legislator and the Governor. Go to www.michigan.gov/legislature for the addresses and phone numbers.

Whisperers tell us that both bills are very important to the revenue and operation of our local governments and to fair taxation for individuals. If you want to express your opinion on the appointment of Ms. Enyart, go to the same site for contact information for legislators, Senate Advise and Consent Committee and for Governor Whitmer.

Quotes (that make you go hmm)

“The right to criticize government is also an obligation to know what you are talking about.” Lent Upson (First Director of Citizens Research Council).

“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.” Ludwig Wittgenstein.

“We don’t watch the news to inform us, we watch the news to affirm us.” Frank Lutz.

Book Recommendations

Do you have one to suggest to us and our readers? Please send us the title, author name and publication date. Send them to david@ruralinsights.org. None of the book suggestions we publish are endorsements of the book or the author, just suggestions for you to consider.

Book Recommendations from Rural Insight Readers:

The Spy Masters. Chris Whipple. 2020.

The Undocumented Americans. Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. 2020.

Rural Voices

We are interested in your stories about how growing up in the Upper Peninsula impacted you: your emotions, your value system, your family life, your professional life, etc. What about growing up in the Upper Peninsula made you who you are today and what you have done with your life? What are you doing today with your life? Tell us what it meant to the development of you.

We look for approximately 300 to 1,000 words. We can’t promise to publish everything, but we promise to read everything you send in and consider it for publication in our Rural Voices series.

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David Haynes

Professor David Haynes is a Professor of Public Administration and teaches in the MPA graduate program at Northern Michigan University, where he previously served as President. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar David Bean on October 5, 2020 at 10:52 am

    We live on Sugar Island just downstream from the Soo Locks. We do not have broadband here except for satellite systems or limited data plan hotspot service. All is expensive and irregular in operation. Recently the Sault Sainte Marie Schools provided a hotspot so local kids can sit in their cars outside our community center and access the internet. Our local Fire Chief did the installation on a plywood panel and placed it in a window of the building. The rest of the island has variable TV service mainly to Canada. PLEASE find a way to get someone like a co-op electrical service to install broadband so we can join the 21st century. Currently it costs us$250.00 a month for internet and TV plus another $45.00 for cellular telephone (ATT is effectively ending

  2. Avatar Anthony T. Grudnoski on October 5, 2020 at 11:38 am

    The web site you posted: Michigan.gov/legislature shows up as not available on the state website…problem?

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