To the editor:
We are writing this letter to urge that Proposal 12-5 on the Michigan ballot, be rejected. This is a State Constitutional Amendment that would require a two- thirds majority of the State House, State Senate or a statewide vote of the people in order for the State of Michigan to impose new or additional taxes on taxpayers or expand the base of taxation or increase the rate of taxation.
This past September, the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan and the Northern Great Lakes Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America held a workshop called "Finding Our Voice." The workshop brought together faith leaders, political leaders, community leaders and congregations to discuss critical issues that impact all of us in the Upper Peninsula. These included: oral health care for all, the Affordable Care Act and its implications, end-of-life care, and education for ages 3 to 20. In all of these cases there are disparities that we see in our rural communities that we need to learn more about, discuss further, and upon which to take advocacy positions.
This proposal if passed, is the antithesis of "finding our voice." Rather, it silences advocacy. Imagine that a coalition of only 13 Senators can stop any funding measure. The gridlock that we so abhor will likely be a way of life, institutionalized by special interests and lobbyists who wish to preserve what they have, rather than advance Michigan in education, health care and care for our seniors.
As in California with similar legislation, we may see dramatic increases in the cost of higher education, the stripping of services, and the closing of state recreational areas. We elect our representatives and senators to represent us. This proposal strips them of their primary responsibility to advocate for us and our needs. And it strips us of our franchise.
What is the likelihood, were this proposal was adopted, that fair and just tax changes could be made? Adoption could put us in a permanent state of institutionalized disparity.
As people of faith we urge the "keeping of voice" by not limiting the role of our elected officials. We urge voters to vote "no" on Proposal 12-5.
BISHOP RAYFORD J. RAY, BISHOP THOMAS SKRENES and PASTOR BEN BALDUS