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Whitmer vetoes bills to further delay taxes in pandemic

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday vetoed bills that would have further delayed tax payments amid the coronavirus pandemic, citing harm to local budgets across Michigan and saying one measure related to property taxes is “blatantly" unconstitutional.

The legislation had won overwhelmingly legislative approval. The Democratic governor, whose administration previously authorized tax delays, said business-backed bills to delay sales, use and income tax payments an additional three months were “commendable” but would “push many local budgets over the precipice into fiscal crisis.”

She also vetoed measures that would have let people and businesses affected by the pandemic or Midland-area dam flooding wait to pay their summer property taxes until 2021. In a letter to lawmakers, she wrote that she had heard from local governments and K-12 districts “an overwhelmingly consensus that these bills create more problems than they solve.”

Requiring the state to provide short-term financing to counties to help cities and townships facing revenue shortfalls due to the later property tax payments, Whitmer said, “blatantly violates” a prohibition on granting state credit except as provided in the constitution — by making the state the guarantor of county liabilities without receiving anything of value in return.

She said the state Department of Treasury had already developed administration solutions for the repayment of outstanding income, sales and use taxes.

The Grand Rapids Chamber criticized the governor’s decision to veto the property tax bills, which it said would have been an “essential bridge into 2021” for the hardest hit businesses.

“The government’s response to the pandemic has asked the business community to accept significantly less revenue, lay off employees and face an uncertain future to protect the public health,” said Joshua Lunger, senior director of government affairs. "Now these same businesses are not afforded time to get their feet back under them before being asked to pay, what is for many businesses, their largest annual bill.”

Whitmer said the state is supporting businesses with direct relief such as grants and giving unemployment benefits and rent assistance to residents.


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