More than 5,000 people rallied Thursday in Lansing, Michigan’s state capital, to demonstrate opposition to an emergency measure, known as “the financial martial law” bill that Gov Rick Snyder signed into law on Wednesday. The new law gives him unprecedented power to dismiss elected local officials and break union contracts signed by these officials. Protestors were also angry at Gov Snyder’s proposals to increase taxes on workers and lower taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
“This governor and his Republican party want to take almost $2 billion more off working people in Michigan,” said United Autoworker president Bob King. “And who does he want to give it to? The wealthy, the corporations.”
King was referring to Gov Snyder’s proposal to end Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits low-paid workers, eliminate the state $600 per child tax credit, and reduce tax credits for the elderly. At the same time, Gov Snyder wants to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy by 86 percent.
Snyder also proposes to reduce funding for local schools by 8 to 10 percent, which the Associated Press reports, “may force school districts to close buildings, reduce staff, and privatize services.”
Think Progress reports that “Michigan already has a regressive tax system, which Snyder’s proposal will only make worse. “Currently, someone in the poorest 20 percent of Michigan’s taxpayers pays a tax rate of 8.9 percent, while someone in the richest 1 percent pays 5.3 percent.”
The” financial martial law” bill signed Wednesday by Gov Snyder gives the governor the authority to dismiss local elected officials of cities, towns, or school boards, break union contracts that local municipalities or school boards may have with workers, and appoint a private manager to operate the municipality or school board.
Supporters of the emergency measure say that it will only be used to help local governing bodies cope with a financial crisis. Opponents say that the measure violates basic principles of democracy by allowing elected officials to be removed from office without the consent of voters and will be used to punish communities that are already feeling the effects of Michigan’s Depression-like economy by making them accept austerity measures that will lower wages and reduce benefits for workers while protecting assets of the wealthy.
“Michigan’s politicians have capitalized on our state’s budgetary woes in order to ram through legislation that rather than creates jobs, takes away even more rights and resources from Michiganders, and instead gives an unprecedented amount of power to the governor, said Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “This is not what democracy looks like.”
More demonstrations against the tax cuts for the wealthy, tax hikes for workers, and the governor’s financial martial law are scheduled for this weekend.