By Jonathan Oosting
LANSING, MI — The Michigan business community has spent more than $8.3 million to promote a primary ballot proposal that would phase out personal property taxes for large industrial machinery and small business equipment.
The Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities ballot committee reported $2.7 million in contributions between April 21 and July 20, according to campaign finance documents filed Friday, building on $5.6 million in earlier donations.
The Michigan Manufacturers Association contributed more than $1 million during the latest reporting period and has now kicked in a total of $2.8 million, making it the largest backer of the proposal, ahead of Ford Motor Company and Dow.
General Motors contributed more than $500,000 for the period, and the Chrysler Corporation added $250,000. All told, Detroit’s “big three” automakers have spent a combined $2.75 million this year to support the ballot proposal.
Alticor, the parent company of Amway, also chipped in $250,000. The Kellogg Corporation contributed $200,000, and several other Michigan companies made smaller donations.
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The ballot committee has reported a total of $6.9 million in expenditures this year, mostly related to advertising, with $5.3 million going to Joe Slade White Communications of New York for media buys and production.
Proposal 1 would allow for the continued phase-out of some personal property taxes, as approved by the Michigan Legislature, but provide replacement revenue for local governments that rely on the tax to provide services, including police and fire.
There is no organized opposition, and the proposal is supported by a broad and bipartisan coalition of officials and organizations, including the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Municipal League and even AARP Michigan.
MICHIGAN WOLF HUNTING
The fight over Michigan wolf hunting continues to be an expensive one, with committees on both sides of the issue reporting a combined total of more than $2.3 million in contributions since 2013.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected reported $125,431 in new donations, along with $750,000 worth of goods and services provided by the Humane Society of the United States at no charge, between late April and late July.
All told, the group has pulled in roughly $1.6 million for two separate petition drives designed to ban wolf hunting in Michigan after an inaugural season last year. Both measures are set to appear on the November ballot, but both could be undermined by a subsequent pro-hunt petition drive.
Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management raised close to $300,000 for the period and $763,000 overall as it worked to send initiated legislation to state lawmakers, who could approve the pro-hunt measure next month or allow it to go to the general election ballot for voters to decide.
The committee, funded largely by hunting and conservation groups, has paid more than $500,000 to National Petition Services in Brighton for signature collection this election cycle.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected ended the reporting period with nearly $524,000 in cash on hand, while Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management has around $49,700 in the bank.
A statewide petition drive seeking to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour cost backers more than half a million dollars but was kept off the November ballot this week by the Board of State Canvassers, which disqualified several signatures after a debate over duplicates and deadlines.
Raise Michigan reported raising roughly $360,000 for the quarter and $566,500 overall. The labor-affiliated Restaurant Opportunity Center of New York was the largest donor, contributing money to its Royal Oak affiliate.
The committee spent most of its money on signature collection and ended the reporting period with about $11,000 on hand as organizers consider legal options for trying to get the proposal on the statewide ballot.
The Michigan Restaurant Association provided about $22,660 in goods and services — reported as in-kind contributions — to a committee opposing the minimum wage proposal, which would have applied to tipped workers.
Even if it did make the ballot, it’s not clear whether the proposal would have any impact. Michigan lawmakers in May approved a new bill raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.25 per hour by 2018 for general workers, with tipped employees earning 38 percent of that rate.
The legislation, approved in a series of bipartisan votes and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, repealed the old minimum wage law that the ballot proposal sought to amend.