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Michiganders Vote for Higher Sales Tax

Michigan voters made it clear they would rather pay a higher sales tax instead of more income tax to help finance schools and cut property taxes.

A proposal to increase sales taxes from 4 percent to 6 percent was approved Tuesday by a margin of more than 2-1. The increase, effective May 1, was the only measure on the special statewide ballot.

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``It's a major commitment to bring down property taxes. We did that and as a result, we made history in Michigan,'' said Gov. John Engler, a first-term Republican who campaigned in 1990 on a promise to cut property taxes.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, 69 percent voted in favor of the proposal and 31 percent voted against it. About 41 percent of the state's nearly 6 million registered voters cast ballots.

Had voters rejected the sales tax, a backup plan would have raised the income tax from 4.6 percent to 6 percent on May 1.

Both plans were designed to provide $10.2 billion to educate the state's 1.6 million school children and to slash property taxes. The vote ends an eight-month school finance upheaval.

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