Chip in to protect our blue firewall!

If we want to stop the Republicans' dangerous agenda, defend reproductive rights, and protect our democracy, we have to keep pace with the GOP's millions in fundraising. Please don’t wait: rush your gift to elect Dem govs >>

NEW TV AD: Snyder Rewards His Administration Officials With Pay Increases, But Raised Taxes on Seniors

Latest News

The Democratic Governors Association today released a new television ad in the Michigan governor’s race highlighting how Governor Rick Snyder raised taxes on seniors’ retirement and property taxes while giving his own administration officials huge pay increases.  The spot, “Jeanette,” features Lansing’s Jeanette Pizzo, who reads her letter detailing how the governor broke his promise to seniors.
The DGA also launched to urge other middle-class Michiganders like Jeanette to share their stories about how they’ve been left out and left behind by a Republican governor who always looks out for the wealthiest instead of them.
“Governor Snyder lied to seniors by raising their retirement and property taxes all to give his administration’s officials pay increases,” said DGA Communications Director Danny Kanner. “That may work for Snyder’s pals and the well-connected, but it sure doesn’t for Michigan seniors who have worked hard for their income. Mark Schauer believes we need to reverse the Snyder retirement tax and build a Michigan economy that works for the middle class, not just those at the very top.”
Watch the ad here:
Go to HERE.

Claim Backup
Video: The whole spot shows a senior woman mailing a letter, as she narrates the content of the letter. Parts of the letter are shown in her handwriting on screen.  The spot is simple, slow, and elegant.
Open with the senior woman walking out of her front door, holding a letter; walking down the driveway to the mailbox; putting the letter into the mailbox and putting up the red flag; walking back to the house.
Audio: [Narrated by a Senior Woman]
“Dear Governor Snyder, You said you wouldn’t raise taxes on our retirement.  But you did anyway.
Snyder Said He Would Balance Budget Without Raising Taxes. In 2011, Snyder said he would balance the state’s budget without raising taxes despite a $1.8 billion budget gap. [Detroit Free Press, 1/4/11]
Snyder Tried to Defend No Tax Increases Pledge Despite Budget Proposal with Clear Increases. “At a news conference after his budget presentation, Snyder denied the budget broke a pledge he made before and after the election to balance the budget with no tax increases – a pledge he amended in the past two weeks to ‘no net tax increases.’ ‘It’s a net tax decrease,’ Snyder said. ‘We’re talking about simple, fair and efficient.’” [Detroit News, 2/18/11]
Snyder Said He Wasn’t Considering Tax Increases. “I talked for two years in the campaign,” Snyder said in a breakfast speech at the Detroit Athletic Club. “I said I was going to do these things. I’m doing them.” But one of the most controversial pieces of Snyder’s budget, a tax on pensions, was never talked about during the campaign. When asked during the campaign, Snyder said he was not considering any tax increases. [“Gov: Budget plan should not surprise,” Detroit News, 3/4/11]
2010 Debate: Stephen Henderson: Okay. As you both know — this question goes to Mr. Snyder first — I solicited Free Press readers for questions. The one I chose came from a young man named Daniel O’Connor, who’s a graduate student at Michigan State University, and he lives in Royal Oak. He asks, “The growing section of our economy is services and the growing section of our population is retirees, yet under the current tax system both are largely shielded from taxes. As governor, would you support a revenue neutral structural tax reform bill that shifts the burden towards services and retirees and away from other job providers who would entice more professionals and young families to Michigan. Mr. Snyder? Snyder: That’s not how you address tax reform. In terms of going after it, the starting point in our state, given the environment we have, is we have to get rid of the job killer, and that’s the Michigan Business Tax. [Detroit Free Press, 10/11/10]
Snyder Taxed Retirement Income. “Gov. Rick Snyder signed the biggest tax overhaul in Michigan in 17 years that finances the elimination of the Michigan business tax with a bundle of changes to the personal income tax. Overall, it amounts to a $220 million net cut in tax revenues to state coffers, but for Michigan businesses, including some 100,000 that no longer will have to pay the repealed Michigan Business Tax, it’s a $1.65 billion cut. The difference is being made up with $1.42 billion in additional income taxes, which includes applying the tax to pensions and other retirement income.” [Bridge Magazine, 5/25/11]
Jeanette Pizzo: Born 1950 (64), Joint Filer (Husband born in 1948), $59K in pension income from her and her husband, taxed on $19K of that pension income, Tier 2 [, Income Tax for Retirement Benefits, Tax Year 2013]
Under the Previous Pension Law Jeanette and Her Husband’s Pension Income Would Have Been Fully Exempt. Private Pensions. Private pension subtractions are limited to $45,842 on a single return and $91,684 on joint returns for tax year 2011. [Michigan Department of Treasury, Pension and Retirement Benefits, 2011]
Audio: We were counting on that income. You raised seniors’ property taxes, too.
Loss of Homestead Credit Would Lead to Hire Taxes for Seniors. “The loss of the homestead credit for an estimated quarter-million households means a net tax increase even for senior couples unaffected by application of the income tax to pensions. A couple in which the older partner was born in the years 1946 to 1952 (assumed to be age 66 in the example), and who receives $30,000 in pension income and $22,000 in Social Security would remain tax-free. With the loss of $430 in homestead credits, they would still see a loss in income.” [Grand Rapid Press, 7/13/11]
AARP to Lawmakers: Use Surplus to Give Back to Seniors. AARP Michigan estimates that the combination of the state pension tax, the elimination of the $2400-per-senior tax exemption, and the increase in property taxes because of changes in the homestead tax exemption has cost Michigan seniors more than $650 million per year. [AARP, 2/3/14]
50-something Michigan pensioners take biggest hit under new tax plan. Taking the biggest shot? A retired couple born after 1952 with more than $50,000 in income, including $48,000 in pension benefits, who now receive the full $1,200 refundable homestead property tax credit. Their taxes will be $3,130 higher in 2013 than they would have been had the tax law not been changed, according to the new analysis by the House Fiscal Agency. [Bridge Magazine, 7/12/11]
Modify Homestead Property Tax Credit (Page 5)
Seniors Would See Large Increase – Almost As Much As Millionaires. “A retired couple born after 1952 with more than $50,000 in income, including $48,000 in pension benefits, who now receive the full $1,200 refundable homestead property tax credit.” would see one of the largest tax increases according to the study. “Their taxes will be $3,130 higher in 2013 than they would have been had the tax law not been changed, the analysis found. They will pay 4.25 percent on all their pension income, and because the income threshold for the homestead credit declines from $82,650 to $50,000, they lose the whole thing. Those with taxable incomes of $1 million would take a larger hit, but not by much — $3,500, because the income tax rate will stay at 4.25 percent instead of dropping to 3.9 percent.” [Grand Rapid Press, 7/13/11]
“No foul on billboards chiding Gov. Snyder for higher taxes.” “Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, a former congressman, has made attacks on Snyder’s tax record a centerpiece of his campaign. In 2011, Snyder pushed through sweeping changes to Michigan’s business tax system, scrapping the Michigan Business Tax and replacing it with a 6 percent corporate income tax. It was calculated to be a $1.7 billion business tax cut in 2012-2013 in analysis by the nonpartisan Michigan House Fiscal Agency. To replace much of that revenue, Snyder backed legislation that raised taxes on individualsby about $1.4 billion. Its chief components and their calculated impact in 2012-2013:

  • Freeze the state income tax at 4.25 percent. It had been scheduled to fall to 3.9 percent by 2015. That was calculated by the House Fiscal Agency to raise $223 million in taxes in 2012-2013.
  • Lower deductions for pensions for those born 1946 or after, adding an estimated $343 million in taxes.
  • Reduce low-income tax credits from 20 percent to 6 percent, adding $261 million in taxes.
  • Lower homestead property tax credits, raising taxes by $270 million. [Bridge Magazine, 5/15/14]


Audio: But you gave your administration officials huge pay raises.  And your own cousin got millions in state furniture contracts.
Fact check: Pro-Schauer ad mostly factual… Claim: “… but gave his own administration officials huge pay raises.” Reality: True, but somewhat misleading. The Free Press broke the story in November of 2013 about the Treasury Department quietly giving double-digit pay raises — some as high as 80% and 90% — to 17 state investment officials. Though the ad could leave the impression huge raises were distributed across state government, the state says these officials were targeted because they could make far more in the private sector and the state needed to retain them. It’s also worth noting that the officials were civil servants — not Snyder appointees — and the extraordinary pay hikes had to be approved by the bipartisan Civil Service Commission. [Detroit Free Press, 9/3/14]
“State’s top investment officials get giant pay raises.” The State of Michigan quietly increased the salaries of its top investment officials in the Treasury Department by more than 80% this year, saying it was too difficult to attract and keep qualified people under the former pay rates.
Jon Braeutigam, the state’s chief investment officer, got a 90% pay raise to $333,000 a year from $175,000, department spokesman Terry Stanton confirmed Friday. [Detroit Free Press, 11/24/13]
Salary Chart of Administration Officials. [Detroit News, 11/26/13]
Snyder Defended Major Pay Raises to Treasury Officials. “Snyder, responding to a follow-up question on Monday night, also explained why officials in the treasury’s Bureau of Investments received major pay raises last year, making them some of the highest-paid employees in state government. Chief Investment officer Jon Braeutigam, for instance, got a 90 percent pay raise from $175,000 to $333,000 a year.
Snyder said the raises were approved following a market analysis showing the investment officials — who manage state pension funds and oversee roughly $71 billion in assets — did not earn as much as their counterparts managing public or private funds of similar sizes in other parts of the country. ‘These are rare professionals that manage money, and we were significantly underpaying them and were having a lot of them leave,’ Snyder told students. ‘We were having turnover issues in terms of keeping these people.’” [, 2/12/14]
Nancy Kaffer: Gov. Rick Snyder must come clean on details of NERD fund. Rick DiBartolomeo, Snyder’s former campaign manager, was NERD’s sole paid employee before he quit to take a job as a senior investments manager for the state. . . . DiBartolomeo was paid $48,366 for 10 hours of weekly work, according to the nonprofit’s tax filings, an arrangement that ended in June 2012, Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said. DiBartolomeo was also paid by Snyder’s campaign committee through mid-June, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office. DiBartolomeo was hired as a senior investments manager for the state later that month. His job with the state is civil service, not an appointment, and one for which DiBartolomeo, who spent more than 20 years in finance, seems qualified. DiBartolomeo did not reply to messages left at his state office and a number listed in the IRS documents. [Detroit Free Press, 5/26/13]
Michigan Truth Squad: No foul on Dems’ questioning treatment given to Gov. Snyder’s cousin. “The state Democratic Party obtained emails showing that George Snyder, owner of DBI Office Interiors in Lansing, expressed worries in April 2011 to a top aide to the governor about legislation that could have harmed his company, which sells office furniture to state government agencies. In an email to top Snyder aide Richard Baird, George Snyder said he was “very upset and nervous” about a 2011 Senate bill (page 70) that would have capped new state office furniture purchases at $1 million. Any amount above that would have required the purchase of used furniture. Baird in turn sent an email to then-state budget director John Nixon, telling Nixon of George Snyder’s concern and said George Snyder is “Gov. Snyder’s cousin.”
“We are on this,” Nixon replies. The legislation was subsequently changed to allow new furniture purchases of more than $1 million, but requires the state to first consider whether its inventory of furniture can be reused or refurbished before making such a purchase. Holland-based Haworth Inc. at the time had a $19.2 million contract as the state’s sole-source provider of office furniture. That contract was boosted to $41 million in September of 2012, according to a contract obtained by the Democratic Party. (Page 6) DBI Business Interiors is a preferred Haworth dealer and through that relationship has sold millions of dollars of furniture to the state…Had the cap on new furniture expenditures been adopted by the Legislature, Haworth and George Snyder stood to lose millions of dollars in future business with the state. . . . The narrative in the Democratic Party’s news release is not in dispute. . . . George Snyder did his cousin no favors by asking Baird to intervene, and the outcome of his actions certainly raise fair questions about the role family ties played.” [Bridge Magazine, Truth Squad, 5/15/14]
Fact check: Pro-Schauer ad mostly factual, except on education cuts Claim: “Rick Snyder’s administration gave millions in state contracts to his own cousin.” Reality: True. [Detroit Free Press, 9/3/14]
George Snyder is owner and president of DBI Business Interiors. “George Snyder is owner and president of DBI Business Interiors, a Lansing company that installs new furniture for Haworth Inc. and competes for refurbishing work with Kentwood Office Furniture. In the spring of 2011, Kentwood Office Furniture’s lobbyist got senators to add boiler plate language to a budget bill that capped new furniture expenses at $1 million and prohibited state agencies from hiring DBI because of its partnership with Haworth Inc. installing new office desks and cubicles. “Kentwood was trying to legislate their business plan and that just wasn’t going to work — I wasn’t going to allow it,” former state budget director John Nixon told The Detroit News on Tuesday. “To allege that DBI has received any special treatment at all as a result of him being the governor’s cousin is just ridiculous. The only thing DBI has gotten is more scrutiny.” [“Michigan Dems accuse Snyder of helping cousin avoid state budget ax,” Detroit News, 3/25/14]
DBI was more than one of Haworth’s subcontractors. Page 17: DBI Business Interiors in Lansing (Haworth’s Lead and Managing Dealer) Page 18: In the relationship with the State, Haworth is the Contractor and is solely responsible for meeting the State’s requirements. Key Dealers are assigned as servicing centers to support the execution of the contract. One managing Dealer, DBI Business Interiors, has been appointed to lead these efforts. [Haworth-State of Michigan Contract]
FOIA Documents Showed Snyder’s Cousin Sought Advice on How to Keep Contract for New Furniture. “The records, obtained by Democrats through a Freedom of Information Act request, show the Republican governor’s cousin, George Snyder, sought Baird’s advice on how to get the Legislature to keep in place a contract for new furniture that benefited his company. George Snyder’s DBI Business Interiors installs new furniture for Holland-based Haworth Inc. as a subcontractor. “We are very upset and nervous about the language in the Senate budget bill on furniture, any advise (sic) on who I can discuss this with,” George Snyder wrote to Baird in an April 29, 2011 email. . . . DBI has gotten more refurbishing work under Gov. Snyder. The firm’s refurbishing work during the last three fiscal years of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration totaled $601,843. During Snyder’s three years in office, DBI has done $873,267 in refurbishing work, DTMB records show.” [“Michigan Dems accuse Snyder aides of helping cousin avoid state budget ax,” Detroit News, 3/25/14]
“DBI Business Interiors, which George Snyder co-owns and has offices in Lansing and Jackson, is paid to install new furniture in state offices – cubicles, desks and the like – for contractor Holland-based Haworth Inc. DBI also competes for furniture refurbishing work with Grand Rapids-based Kentwood Office Furniture and was concerned the Senate budget bill would have limited spending on new furniture to $1 million a year, a clause the Snyder administration says was inserted to guarantee refurbishing business only for DBI’s competitor. Baird quickly replied to reassure George Snyder that then-budget director John Nixon’s “people are on this. Sit tight.” More than an hour later, Nixon emailed Baird to say “we are on it.” The House did not include the furniture change in its budget bill, and it never became law. In July 2011, when George Snyder emailed Baird about a possible meeting with Nixon to discuss the furniture procurement process, Baird forwarded it to Nixon and mentioned George Snyder’s relationship to the governor. . . . . Democrats also questioned why in September 2012 the value of the five-year Haworth contract more than doubled, from $19.2 million to $41.4 million. In May 2013, the value of a separate five-year Haworth contract – for office seating – rose from $4.7 million to $7.2 million, according to an Associated Press review of the state’s contracts database. . . . State budget office spokesman Kurt Weiss said DBI as a subcontractor dealer gets an unspecified cut of the Haworth contracts. The reason the overall contracts’ values were raised, he said, is because the Snyder administration is eliminating costly leases by moving employees to buildings the state already owns.” [“Democrats: Snyder Aides Helped Cousin Avoid Cut In State Contract,” AP, 3/26/14]
Democrats: Snyder Aides Helped Cousin Avoid Cut in State Contract. “Democrats also questioned why in September 2012 the value of the five-year Haworth contract more than doubled, from $19.2 million to $41.4 million. In May 2013, the value of a separate five-year Haworth contract – for office seating – rose from $4.7 million to $7.2 million, according to an Associated Press review of the state’s contracts database.” [“Democrats: Snyder Aides Helped Cousin Avoid Cut In State Contract,” WWJ (AP),3/29/14]
Video: End with simple text:
Tell Governor Rick Snyder
What You Think
Audio: I just wanted to say … that doesn’t seem very fair to me.
Jeanette Pizzo
Lansing, Michigan.”