What we're talking about

Breaking news, legislative updates and the facts.

Snyder hikes taxes, while his top aide gets illegal tax break

One of Rick Snyder’s first acts as governor was to sign a major overhaul of Michigan tax law, hitting individual taxpayers with $1.4 billion in new taxes. At the same time, Snyder delivered $1.8 billion in tax breaks to rich CEOs and wealthy corporations – even those that ship our jobs overseas.

Michigan’s working families have been hit with a new tax on pensions, cuts in the Earned Income Tax Credit, and an increase in the state’s overall income tax.

Because of Snyder’s record of tax increases on the middle class, it was especially outrageous when news broke in August that one of his top aides, Richard Baird, had received an illegal tax break for three years running on his $500,000 home in Bath Township, outside of Lansing.

Baird, who knows Snyder from their years together at accounting powerhouse PricewaterhouseCoopers, also lives in Illinois. Both of his homes were claimed as his “principal” residence, so he got a homeowners’ tax break in both states, which is not permitted.

After the story broke, Baird hurried to fix the problem by paying $16,700 in back taxes to Bath Township. But when Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift wrote about Snyder’s tax hikes and his top aide’s improper tax breaks in an opinion column in the Detroit Free Press, Baird went ballistic.

He responded with an angry message on Pres. Swift’s voice mail, threatening to sue and stating he is “sick and tired of you people.” On Sept. 4 and on Sept. 6, Baird wrote to Swift and to the Detroit Free Press, the Lansing State Journal, and Gannett Co., demanding a retraction.

Pres. Swift answered Snyder’s top aide on Sept. 8., stating she has “no intention” of retracting her opinion column.

“Rick Snyder, as you know, raised taxes on every working person in Michigan, by increasing the state income tax,” Swift wrote. “He also imposed extra burdens on retirees with a new pension tax, and on working families by reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit.”

“Rich, you’re entitled to your own opinion on these issues. You’re not entitled to my opinion. My opinion is that officials of an administration that has raised taxes on so many Michigan working families should pay their own taxes, in full and on time.”

Despite threats from one of Snyder’s closest aides, Pres. Swift and the men and women of the Michigan AFL-CIO will continue to speak out on issues that affect working families.

Baird’s Sept. 4 letter to Karla Swift and the Detroit Free Press is here.

Baird’s Sept. 6 letter to Karla Swift and the Lansing State Journal and Gannett and Co. is here.

Karla Swift’s response is here.

Get involved with the Michigan AFL-CIO

Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and bring economic justice to the workplace - and you can too.