|Meekhof, left, Leonard, Snyder (Freep)|
By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMIPolitics@Gmail.com)
The disastrous "driver responsibility fee" program former Governor Granholm created to squeeze more money out of Michigan drivers is dead after Speaker Leonard, Senate Majority Leader Meekhof, and Governor Snyder reached a deal Wednesday morning.
The deal also increases the personal tax exemption from $4,000 to nearly $5,000.
It's hard to get rid of a government program once it starts sucking the life out of taxpayers, and Leonard, Meekhof, and Snyder deserve a lot of credit for getting the job done and eliminating this terrible money grab. Former State Rep. Joe Haveman, now running to replace Meekhof in the State Senate, also deserves kudos for his previous work on this issue.
According to Kathy Gray of the Detroit Free Press:
"The House of Representatives and Senate have reached a compromise with Gov. Rick Snyder to hike the personal tax exemption for Michigan residents and eliminate costly driver responsibility fees and forgive $634 million in debt owed by nearly 350,000 drivers.
The personal exemption would increase over four years from $4,000 to $4,900 in 2021, resulting in a savings for a Michigan family of more than $100...
The tax cut bills were spawned by the recently approved federal tax cut package, which state officials have said will create an unintended state tax increase of about $1.5 billion by eliminating the state personal exemption.
The House and Senate are scheduled to give final passage this afternoon to both the personal exemption hike and the elimination of driver responsibility fees.
Driver responsibility fees, ranging from $100 to $2,000, were passed in 2003 to help fill a budget hole when Michigan’s economy faltered. And the money raised – between $99 million and $115 million a year – did help the state’s general fund.
According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, nearly 350,000 Michigan drivers still owed $637 million in driver responsibility fees.
The latest package of bills would:
-Forgive all outstanding driver responsibility fees when the program is eliminated on Oct. 1, 2018.
-Create an education outreach program to let drivers know how to reinstate their drivers licenses.
-Reinstate the community service program for people who can’t pay off their fines before the program is eliminated.
-Provide immediate forgiveness of outstanding debts to people who have been making a good faith effort to pay off their fines.
-Reinstate the eligibility for drivers’ licenses to affected drivers when the program is eliminated and waive the $125 reinstatement fee.
-Create a path for drivers to use district court sobriety programs to regain their license."