Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s 2011 tax increase on retirement income from pensions is haunting the Republican as he runs for a second term in a graying state still recovering from the recession.

Polls have shown Snyder, 56, in a dead heat with Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, 52, a former state legislator and congressman who’s hammering Snyder for hurting pensioners while cutting business taxes by $1.4 billion.

“I’m very sorry I voted for Mr. Snyder,” said Rosalind Weber, 67, a retired state worker from Ionia who calls herself an independent. “I won’t vote for him again. I didn’t like what he did with the taxes.”

Snyder bucked a decades-old trend among states of reducing taxes on retirees. While other issues are stirring the race -- Michigan’s 7.7 percent July unemployment rate remained above a 6.2 percent U.S. average -- the pension tax is driving a Democratic drumbeat for change in Lansing, where Republicans control all three branches of government.

Until Snyder’s changes took effect, Michigan had exempted most pension payments from the income tax, now at 4.25 percent. He created a three-tier system for retirees born before 1946, after 1952 and those in between. Members of the youngest group were hit hardest; instead of being allowed to exempt $47,309 in retirement income, they’re now taxed fully until age 67. Then, they get a $20,000 exemption.

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The oldest couples can exempt all public-pension income and as much as $94,618 from private retirement plans. Michigan doesn’t tax Social Security benefits.

The changes cost retirees an estimated $350 million more in taxes in 2013, according to the House Fiscal Agency.