Two weeks shy of the July 9 deadline, Citizens for More Michigan Jobs (CMMJ) today delivered 509,777 signatures to the Secretary of State office – demonstrating overwhelming support from the Michigan electrorate for the initiative.
“Despite a massive effort in the past month to deter voters from signing our petitions, more than half a million Michigan residents endorsed our plan to raise the casino tax rate and create thousands of new jobs through the construction and operation of eight new casinos,” said Emily Gerkin Palsrok, spokesperson for the coalition.
“We feel confident that our plan offers a positive alternative to the status quo,” continued Palsrok. “Not only does our plan create thousands of new jobs and raise the tax rate on casinos, but it also dedicates the revenue that casinos generate to important items like K-12 spending, police and fire, road improvements and to local counties and municipalities. The people of Michigan, instead of Lansing politicians, will get to direct how the new revenue is spent, and every dollar will be accounted for on a new public website that will track revenue and expenditures.”
Palsrok said the opposition’s attempt to dissuade voters from signing the petitions had little or no effect on the effort.
“Voters saw through the hypocrisy of the existing casinos fighting against more competition and an increase in the gaming tax,” said Palsrok. “It is clear that they are not concerned with job creation, or with generating new revenue for important programs like education and public safety. Rather, they are intent on maintaining the status quo, which allows them to enjoy a very low gaming tax and limited competition. They made clear from the outset that they are willing to say anything to maintain their monopoly.”
CCMJ is proposing eight new privately owned casino locations, which would – if approved by voters in November – creates thousands of good paying jobs and increase state taxes on all private gaming facilities. The new revenue would directly benefit Michigan schools, roads and bridges, law enforcement, and local units of government.
The proposed sites would be located in Detroit, Birch Run, Grand Rapids, Romulus, Clinton Township, Clam Lake (Cadillac), Pontiac and DeWitt Township (Lansing). CCMJ estimates the new casinos will generate $275 million annually in new revenue for the state and create more than 16,000 new jobs.
Currently, Michigan has 25 casinos, but only three are privately owned and pay taxes – one of the lowest tax rates on gaming in the country. CCMJ’s proposal would increase that tax to 23 percent, with a specified distribution system to benefit core statewide programs, such as education, police and fire programs, road, local government and gaming addiction programs.
With signatures now submitted to the state, CMMJ plans to officially kickoff proactive campaign efforts in July.
CMMJ was formed by Jobs First LLC, a group of Michigan business leaders focused on increasing jobs and economic development across the state by targeting convention and tourism areas. All proposed private casino locations are on land already owned by Michigan Developers.