Engaging with…Your Taxes!

By Brad O’Neil

Today is April 15th – Tax Day. A day we’ve been conditioned to dread, but shouldn’t because taxes are what make our communities strong:

  • Public education9 in 10 children attend public schools, with 50 million students enrolled nationwide. About 25 percent of state investment goes toward K-12 education.

Higher education institutions like community colleges, university systems, and vocational education institutions also account for a large portion of state investment – about 13 percent of it.

  • Healthcare – Every month, 63 million low-income children, parents, elderly, and people with disabilities benefit from programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. Healthcare accounts for 16 percent of state investment.

While education and healthcare account for over half of all state investment, there are a multitude of other publicly funded services that our taxes pay for that we may take for granted or not even know about:

  • Reliable public safety – When there’s a fire we expect the fire department to put it out, when there’s a crime we expect the police to investigate it, and when there’s a medical emergency we expect an ambulance to be available if we call one.
  • Parks and recreation – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) administers 145 state forest campgrounds, manages 4.5 million acres of public hunting land, and maintains 6,200 miles of snowmobile trails, 15 Great Lakes Harbors of Refuge, and 750 public launch sites.

Additionally, the DNR manages and protects 400 species of animals including threatened and endangered species.

  • Clean Great Lakes – The Great Lakes are vital to Michigan in more ways than one and our tax dollars help to maintain some 3,000 miles of freshwater shoreline – the most of any state.
  • Veterans’ benefits – Former and active-duty members of the military are supported in a variety of ways including income and housing support, healthcare, education, and job training.

Some like to vilify the IRS but few would be willing to cut these vital services on which we all rely. So, before you dismiss taxes as a wholly negative concept take a second to ask yourself which bullets you would delete.