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Archive | Pearce Points

Pearce Points. . .

By State Rep. Tom Pearce 

What If…?

 In 2003, the Legislature and the Governor came up with another novel idea to generate dollars for that year’s budget by instituting a lifetime registration and license plate for both private and commercial trailers in the state. They accomplished their goal of generating an additional $100 million dollars for that calendar year but it did not come without consequences. Prior to 2003, trailer registrations were generating $60 million annually for bridge and road projects throughout the state. These funds could also be used to match federal dollars producing $80 of federal money for every $20 the state spent.  After the one-year peak in trailer registrations, we have seen an average of $30 million per year from this source of revenue. A significant reason for the drop is that businesses throughout the state that have to license multiple trailers have felt compelled to register them in other states rather than pay the significantly increased fee here in Michigan.

What if we could get the Governor and the legislature to agree to “grandfather” in anyone who purchased a lifetime plate and then institute a renewable registration that is competitive with surrounding states? It is estimated that we could generate as much as $20 million more annually by making this small change. We can do this without hurting anyone who had been promised a lifetime plate while encouraging businesses to keep as much of their operations as possible within the borders of our state. Also, this is critical at a time when we are trying to draw down all the federal matching dollars available. I have drafted a bill that will do just that and it is my hope that before I leave the legislature, this is something that I can get accomplished.

“Guardian of Small Business” Award

I am honored by the announcement that the Leadership Council of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) voted to recognize me as a 2010 NFIB “Guardian of Small Business.” The NFIB gives this award to Legislators whose voting record shows they have voted with small-business owners 100 percent of the time and have a solid understanding of the problems facing family businesses and their employees.

Plenty for area residents and visitors to do this fall

There are several family activities coming up in the next few weeks. The 34th annual Harvest Festival in Rockford starts the weekend of Sept. 24-26, and continues Oct. 2-3 and Oct. 9-10.  Check out www.rockford.mi.us for more information on this and other great Rockford events.  Also, the Cedar Springs 71st annual Red Flannel Festival starts the weekend of September 25-26 with the main festivities Oct. 1-2.  Check http://www.redflannelfestival.org/www.redflannelfestival.org for all the details.

Michigan Public Service Commission to hold Consumer Information and Assistance Forum     

The MPSC will host a local forum to give our state’s consumers information on electric and natural gas rates, as well as the status of local and long distance telephone service.  Local utility providers and assistance organizations will also be present to investigate customer service issues and explore new energy assistance programs.

Our area forum will take place Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Greenville Community Center, located at 900 E. Kent Road.  For more information, call 1-800-292-9555 or visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc.

Need help with your mortgage?

The U.S. Department of Treasury and the Hope Now Alliance will host a “Help for Homeowners Community Event Tuesday, Sept. 28, from 1 to 7:30 p.m.  The event will be held at DeVos Place, located at 303 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids.

This is a free opportunity to meet one-on-one with your mortgage lender or a HUD-approved housing counselor. Also, you’ll be able to find out if you’re eligible for the federal government’s Making Home Affordable Program or other options from your lender.

Make sure you take the following documents if you’d like to participate in this event:

* Monthly mortgage statement;
* Information about other mortgages on your home, if applicable;
* Two most recent pay stubs, documentation of income you receive from other sources or most recent quarterly profit and loss statement if self-employed;
* Two most recent bank statements;
* Account balances and monthly payments for credit cards and other debts;
* Estimates of other monthly expenditures (such as utilities, insurance and medical bills).
For additional information on this event, visit  http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov or www.HopeNow.com or call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).

Also, visit www.LoanScamAlert.com, a free website that provides tips on how to avoid lending scams.

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Pearce Points

By Rep. Tom Pearce

What if…?

The advent of the federal highway system in the 1950s brought a new set of problems and solutions to both federal and state governments. A network of high speed, cross country roads would connect cities nationwide and lead to unprecedented economic growth in the post war years.

As the highway system began taking shape, federal gas taxes were implemented to help pay for the massive undertaking.  States with higher populations and a larger tax base were required to pay more federal gas tax dollars to subsidize the building of the federal highway system in less populated states.  This was understandable at the time since all states needed to be included in the national highway system.

However, in 1991, Congress declared the interstate highway system complete, but the federal gas tax has lived on.  Michigan has received as little as 87 percent and as high as 94 percent of the share of the federal gas tax revenue generated by the state – making Michigan a “donor” state.   In 2009, for every dollar we sent to Washington we received 92 cents back.   In effect, Michigan has subsidized transportation projects in other states to the detriment of our state infrastructure and in disproportion to our contribution to the national economy.

Not only do we pay more into the federal gas tax coffers than we receive, the federal government also has a complicated formula whereby the states must provide 20 percent in matching funds in order to receive our federal gas tax dollars. Also important to note is that only about 60 percent of the federal fuel taxes paid by motorists go to roads – much of the rest is eaten up in individual earmarks or additional pork projects.  This makes the Federal Highway Trust Fund one of the biggest line items available for pork spending in the entire federal budget.
What if all fifty states and their congressional delegations questioned the authority of the federal government, under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, to collect a federal gas tax from each state and then hold the dollars hostage by requiring each state to provide matching funds to receive those dollars back?
Furthermore, what if the federal government adopted a policy whereby all but one percent of federal gas tax monies collected in each state remained in the state? One percent of the dollars collected could be designated to maintain the federal highway system in less populated states. The remaining 99 percent could be kept by states to maintain the federal highways within their borders and allocated for any other state transportation purposes at the discretion of each state. This would eliminate the issue of “donor” states and keep all but one percent of the federal gas tax funds in each state.

To contact Rep. Pearce, email tompearce@house.mi.gov, telephone (517) 373-0218 or toll free: (888) 414-3684.

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Pearce Points

N-Pearce-awarded-fellowshipBy Rep. Tom Pearce

What if…?

One of the greatest joys I experience is living in such an incredible community. When there is a need we give, when someone is hurting we care, and when someone experiences success we celebrate. What if this Christmas, while we remember the greatest gift ever given, we each look for a neighbor in need and take the time to reach out in some small way. Who knows how much good can come from a few simple acts of kindness?

New Year begins district office hours change

To improve efficient and effective service to the residents of the 73rd House District, beginning in January 2010 my meetings with constituents will be done on an appointment basis rather than the open district office hours schedule. The monthly district office hours format was great for meeting people informally, but often it has been the case that no residents were using the district office hours opportunities to meet with me. Another matter I have taken into account in making this decision is fairness to the businesses and their staffs who have graciously hosted my meetings over the years. The scant and sometimes nonexistent attendance needlessly ties up part of their serving area. I am thankful to each restaurant that worked around my district office hours schedule. I also thank those residents who have met with me at the district office hours. I still look forward to meeting in the local community with anyone who has concerns, opinions or difficulties with state government issues or services using an appointment process.  To establish an appointment time and location, please contact my office toll free at 888-414-3684.

“Helping hand” info makes online debut

A new state Web site is making it easier for people facing economic hardship to find state programs and services, tips and how-to information. There are five primary links at www.michigan.gov/helpinghand to access information on Michigan’s unemployment benefits program, food assistance, affordable medical care and help with mortgage trouble, as well as other useful information. The site also has links for United Way’s 2-1-1 local cooperating agencies, including the online Heart of West Michigan United Way Community Resource Directory. Another Web site that can be of use for seniors looking for answers is the AARP’s www.aarp.org/quicklink. This site can help people learn about public benefit programs they may not know are available, and how to get help from them. These programs can help save money on health care, medication, food, utilities, children’s health costs and more. There are options for federal and state-specific program searches.

Reminder: unemployment assistance available 24/7

I included this information in my last column, but with Michigan’s high unemployment I want to remind people that unemployment insurance help can be reached online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Claims can be filed online at www.michigan.gov/uia anytime from 7 a.m., Monday until 7 p.m., Saturday. Claims can also be filed by telephone by calling toll-free 866-500-0017 which is available anytime from 7 a.m., Monday, until 7 p.m., Saturday, with live assistance available from 8 a.m., until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those connecting before or after the regular business hours will not have access to live representatives. Those calling the automated system during off-hours and who cannot complete the filing of their claims because additional information is required will be advised to call the agency back during normal business hours, excluding holidays, to speak with an agency representative. Another service upgrade allows workers to choose their benefit payment option from debit card to direct deposit or vice versa. UIA also has helpful video Webcasts available on its site, www.michigan.gov/uia. There are answers and explanations to more than three dozen common questions on ‘UI Tube’ in the format of guides or tutorials to help users understand and access unemployment programs or benefits.  Most of the on-demand programs are less than 10 minutes long.  Employers can learn about different aspects of the tax program, as well as how to file quarterly wage, tax and payroll reports. Unemployed workers can learn about unemployment benefits, including the step-by-step process for filing an unemployment claim and registering for work through Michigan Works!  They can also learn about their benefit payment options, how to use MARVIN and some of the common problems they may have with claims.

Contact me

Residents are encouraged to contact me anytime through my Lansing office by calling toll free (888) 414-3684; mailing to the State Capitol, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909-7514; or e-mailing tompearce@house.mi.gov.

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