Next week a raucous political “season” will close as polling places open. Those who queue to vote are in effect the board of directors with serious issues hanging perilously overhead. To opt out is not an option, as those issues impact every single person — and most especially, every single business. If readers must be on the road for business travel Nov. 2 and have not anticipated it by voting with an absentee ballot, it is urged the travel be delayed until voting obligations are met. And it is a very basic obligation.
On the federal level, newly elected officials will consider extension of the Bush tax cuts, not the least of which guards against devastating inheritance taxes, an issue especially crucial to small business owners. It is likely that all manner of new federal health care policy will be diced by legislators, the cap-and-trade legislation awaits vote, and further “review” of banking and financial institution rules are hinted.
The grueling agenda on the federal level is almost second to the issues facing the state of Michigan, especially as the business community begins to see its way through the dust of the recession. The choice between gubernatorial candidates is as stark as it has ever been. Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder has repeatedly indicated his No. 1 priority will be elimination of the Michigan Business Tax. His opponent, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, is not so committed to elimination as he is a “review” of the tax. Bernero instead proposes his “Make It in Michigan for Free” initiative, which would give abandoned buildings away to interested developers and provide them tax free.
The candidates and their viewpoints have been made available to constituents through voters’ guides, during public debates, and in broadcast news interviews on candidate websites, Facebook and YouTube. The communication process has been so extensive as to draw the complaint of “overload.” But the most important “issue” is voter turnout.
The August primary elections provided an even more diverse set of choices and certainly far greater ranges of ideas and representation. Still, less than one-quarter of registered voters showed up to meet the obligation of citizenship. Kent County voter turnout ranked 23rd among Michigan counties, and in Muskegon County, where the unemployment rate is even more dismal than elsewhere, the voter turnout ranked No. 51. Ottawa County, on the other hand, found 29 percent of its registered voters at the polls in August, giving it a rank of No. 4. Let’s not pretend that is a great turnout.
It is a given that major changes and spending reductions are certain in Michigan. The tax structure, and who and what is taxed, has roiled without resolution. The candidates stepping forward have offered a range of possible actions. It is now time for the “board of directors” to determine the course of those momentous decisions.
As has been said, if you don’t vote, you can’t be heard.