News Feature | April 21, 2014

Water Tax Fuels Race For Michigan's Next Governor

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


The race for governor in Michigan is taking a turn toward water policy. 

The GOP is using a water reform bill to criticize Mark Schauer, a state senator and a top Democratic candidate. Schauer is running against incumbent Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican. 

In a new 30-second television ad, the Republican Governors Association is criticizing Schauer for legislation he supported in 2007 "that would have imposed a 20-cent per gallon tax on companies that bottle water in Michigan," reported.

In the ad, titled "Agua," a woman asks, "Who taxes water?" View the ad here

"The RGA ads, which began airing in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint markets late last month, have highlighted various tax votes and proposals Schauer made in Michigan and Washington D.C. The Battle Creek Democrat served in the state House and Senate from 1997 to 2009 before winning a single term in the U.S. House," reported.

Pollution is one justification for the bottled water tax proposal.

"Water bottles represent a major source of landfill waste and many states and cities have considered taxes to reduce use. Chicago imposed a 5-cent-a-bottle tax on bottled water in 2008. Last month, San Francisco voted to begin restricting the sale of plastic water bottles on most city property and to halt purchases of bottled water by the city government," the Detroit News reported

How did Schauer respond?

“Washington Republicans led by scandal-plagued Governor Chris Christie are desperate to prop up Rick Snyder,” Schauer spokesman Zack Pohl said, according to a quote in the News. “They’re attacking Mark Schauer for his work to protect the Great Lakes from other states and special interests that want to steal Michigan's precious water resources, which belong to the people of Michigan.”

An editorial on defended the policy Schauer supported. 

"Schauer's tax proposal was a bulk withdrawal tax proposal. That much is evident in the ad, since it's a per-gallon tax. No one buys bottled water in gallon bottles. The RGA is making this out to be a retail tax when it is not," the report said. 

For more on water policy and politics, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center

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