Michigan’s roads affect everyone, so a 'yes' vote on Proposal 1 makes sense

"People first, not potholes" was my first reaction to hearing about Proposal 1, the May 5 ballot proposal to increase funding to fix Michigan’s roads and bridges. As executive director of network180, the behavioral health authority for Kent County (26 agencies providing services to almost 17,000 annually), I am passionate about advocating for funding for mental health services, the disabled and those with special needs. At first glance, fixing potholes didn't rank high on my priority list.

It turns out that my first reaction was wrong. I was reminded by a man using a wheelchair that potholes do affect people and in particular those who have to traverse the roads and intersections around them using wheelchairs, canes and walkers; cyclists and parents pushing strollers and wagons deal with this as well. This man had been in a service van that couldn't swerve around a large pothole and was knocked to the floor. This is just one story of many. Potholes do affect people, particularly those least likely to have a voice in this hotly contested ballot proposal.

Managing daily transit is magnified for those who are not able-bodied when roads and curb cuts are in shambles. Proposal 1 is our best chance to finally get the needed funding that will fix our roads and bridges for the long haul. All of us, whether as individuals or business owners or leaders of treatment agencies such as ours, have to take the long view. This is a solution that Michigan has needed for more than a decade. Our safety – as pedestrians, drivers or passengers – is at risk if we don’t do something.

Proposal 1 also provides guarantees that local governments and schools won’t be cut off at the knees. Our local governments will receive some of the sales tax funding, but it is not "pork" as some claim. Our cities, townships and villages use these revenue sharing dollars to provide us with fire and police protection, amongst other services. I don't know of anyone who thinks these services are "extras" for our communities.

Proposal 1 restores the Earned Income Tax Credit, which will allow many of those whom network180 serves the opportunity to stay in the workforce and get back on their feet. The designated funding to the K-12 schools assures that the money for our children who have special needs within the school system will not get diverted elsewhere.

Overall, Proposal 1 is a solution that Michigan cannot afford to pass up. Network180 strongly supports its passage on May 5.

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Fri, 04/17/2015 - 6:18pm
I have sympathy for people with disabilities but I'm not going to be guilt tripped into voting yes.
Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:37pm
I think we can all agree our roads & bridges are crap. Now if you take out all of the politics and emotions out of this issue, what are the facts? What I would like to see is a facts true/false report and I’d like to know the following: What have we been paying for? Where has the past money gone if we have not been paying for upkeep/reconstruction of roads/bridges, then were did it go? Why was it allowed to go to something else? Will PROPOSAL 15-1 prevent that from happening again? If so, how? I understand we need to keep road reconstruction costs as low as possible, but, if these are the people’s roads we are all paying for, then I’d like a say in the selection process. Is the lowest bid process the correct process we should be utilizing? Taxpayer money is my money and I don’t want “cheap” I want effective and used wisely. If we have to pay a little more (I’m sure on a larger scale would mean a few million) to get the job done RIGHT the first time, wouldn’t that mean we’d be spending less in the long term? If the roads/bridges are fixed right the first time, we wouldn’t have highways that were just completed, being fixed the next year would we? Or the year after that. I’m sure they would still need to be redone every 3-5 years due to our weather but, every year is asinine. We, the people of MI, and all of the tourists deserve better. I also want to hear from the road construction companies. How would they fix our roads, what would their recommendations be and costs associated with them? They are the experts. I’d also like a failure policy put in place too. If we the people, trust the construction company to fix/build our roads and it doesn’t last; I don’t believe that company should be allowed to bid on Michigan’s next needed road/bridge project for the next 10 years. If you hire someone to fix something in your house or on your car and its crap, would you use them again? Then why would we for MI’s roads? Oh, wait, it’s because they had the lowest bid. I’m not sure I agree with it. What will the warranties cover and not cover? It was also mentioned that “most” of the road work would be warrantied, why most? Why not all? Why would diesel and regular have different rates? Diesel is friendlier to the environment, why penalize diesel drivers? And if we use the thought process that Diesel = companies & bigger pockets. Remember, all of your goods/services we have that are delivered to our stores, all of those costs are put into the prices of those goods/services anyway. Either way, we the people will get stuck with the bill. I say a flat fee for Diesel vs. regular. Why are these proposals “bundled” together? Shall we look at the White House or Congress as a model to get things accomplished? If you keep piling crap, onto more crap. You end up with a huge pile of crap no one wants to deal with. A lot of us have heard this before K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. And let’s all move forward.
John Q. Public
Fri, 04/17/2015 - 8:31pm
I'm not quite sure what to make of the fact that the CEOs of every for-profit corporation, every not-for-profit corporation, every municipal corporation, and every lobbying firm are all writing columns urging us to vote 'yes', while at the same time better than 90% of the individuals who comment online indicate they are voting 'no'. It's as if it is the Elites vs. Everyman; as if Snyder and Calley are calling in every outstanding chip they hold; as if they are making promises of new government largess in return for an approving column. The Elites think we're pretty gullible and not very bright. I hope May 6th doesn't find them to be correct.
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 9:44pm
David Waymire
Tue, 04/21/2015 - 10:05am
The reason all these groups are supporting the proposal is that they have taken the time to learn all about it, understand the need, understand the ramifications of failure, and then made a rational decision. Data and facts are winning them; opponents are full of dogma and misinformation.
John Q, Public
Tue, 04/21/2015 - 5:58pm
Oh, so that's the reason: the elites have a monopoly on knowledge, logic, and information, and there's not an iota of dogmatism among them. I should have seen that. Dogs have five legs if you call a tail a leg.
Sat, 04/18/2015 - 3:43pm
Mr. Gilman only sees the long view and disregards the long history of spending other people’s money. Mr. Gilman shows no interest in the short view of how our money is spent, no interest in the accountability of the programs and agencies spending the money. The more I have heard the proponents my support has eroded, today I vote no. They started with fear, now with guilt, next it will be threats. Why don't they learn to ask and listen?
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 12:52am
I will vote NO, but because you are the problem. Your right wing political friends don't have the eggs to tell you they lie, that some terrible things are done with your money, which just isn't true. They tell you that government gets too much money and wastes it. Why did these cowards put this on the ballot? Because they want to pretend that there's all this money floating around, but if they raised taxes, they'd have to explain why they'd been lying to you. So rather than use their power to raise taxes, they want to shuffle it off unto us. For five years they've gutted education, local municipalities, and the middle-class taxpayer in favor of tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Now they are going to give some of it back? I don't believe them. I will vote NO because you believe your Republicans big lie.
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 1:08pm
jgrant, Did you read what I said or what you wanted to hear? Do you understand what accountability involves, it is about results, about evaluating means and methods used to achievement results or changing things until the expected results are delivered? Why are you so resistant to have the programs held accountable for results, why not have the agencies administering those programs establish accountability protocols, why not have elected officials that authorize the money be interested in results and have an accountability protocol for what they authorize? Do you believe the government should hold private companies accountable for their actions? Do you believe the government should individuals accountable for their actions? If you do then why are you so opposed to holding the government accountable for their actions? I have learned that we don’t have all the answers every moment and that when we talk with others about what we are doing new ideas, changes in approach, different perspectives come into the discussion that help us improve what and how we do things. Why shouldn’t our government use such an effective method as part of how they strive to deliver the desired results?
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 6:29am
If the Roadbuilders union and the MEA are for it, then it deserved the "no" vote I already gave it on my absentee ballot. Too much money going to other interests and not enough to the roads. We do not need a percentage going to a bicycle trail in Merryville, or a percentage going to new rugs in Studyville, or any other diversion. We need 100% going to fix the roads and the fix should contain clauses to cut truck weights to the national limit on interstate roads, severely restrict truck weights on non-freeway roads, add a warranty to every road project, and insist on road designs where orange barrels in two years after repair are not going to happen.
Jay Johnson
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 8:41am
With Proposition 1, we are going to: (A) tax ourselves about $2 billion more in order to pay off $814 million in Governor Engler's road bond debt before we begin to fix the roads; (B) restore $292 million to the school fund from which the 2014 lame duck legislature just stole $150 million to "balance" the budget; (C) pay $261 million to restore the earned income tax credit that Governor Snyder stole to help provide funding for his two massive business tax cuts that were going to provide "jobs"; (D) pay $100 million to our local governments to replace the "constitutionally guaranteed " revenue sharing funds that Lansing has defaulted on from almost the get go. And then, after all these puts and takes, the general fund will receive about $15 million in "new money". That "surplus" -- along with the permanent "budget surpluses" that would result from the legislature's never, ever again having to dip into the general fund to pay for roads or schools or revenue sharing -- means that the current legislature will easily be able to lower the income tax rate and still be able to "balance the budget" in 2016. Beneath it all, Proposition 1 is just another shift in the tax burden from those who are well off to those who are not.
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 6:29pm
And don't forget the tax on pensions that we were promised for decades would not occur and that we partially based our retirement plans on, so that corporations would get a job-creating (ha!) break, and the tax credits that those of us who support public institutions and soup kitchens lost, also for corporations. Snyder, the legislature, and all the others supporting Proposal 1 are clueless. We've voting no.
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 10:34am
I said from the very beginning. Let each and every request ,ballot, or whatever term you wish to use , stand on it's own merits. This bundelling and packaging everything is confusing and deceptive at best. Yes we need to fix the roads, fix our schools, and infrastructure,but don't pit one group against another. 7% sales tax is too much, especially for those who make multiple major purchases. R.L.
Richard McLellan
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 12:18pm
I voted yes by absentee because I told myself I would vote for anything that fixes the roads, but I had to hold my nose. It is unlikely that the Legislature will come up with another approach even though it is their job. I suspect we may have to wait a few years for the roads to get really, really bad before people are willing to pay for what they use.
Fri, 04/24/2015 - 11:17pm
I agree with you. However, MDOT should be put under intense scrutiny regarding their investments and funding. That's the second half of a sustainable solution. And, the gas tax can always be reduced once MDOT's budget has been brought under control. I just don't get why our legislators are not publicly outraged about MDOT's poor investment choices and lack of tight fiscal control. The public voted in quite a few Tea Party reformists. Where are they in regards to MDOT? Perhaps it will take a Libertarian to enforce a change.
John Q. Public
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 4:20pm
I, too, will vote for whatever will fix the roads. I'm voting 'no' on Proposal 1, though. That's for suckers.
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 8:54pm
The road repairs should have been financed by a fuel tax increase (given the low gasoline prices) but our political leaders didn't have the spine to do that. I'm voting no to this regressive sales tax increase. I'd strongly prefer even an increase in our relatively low income tax rate to the sales tax hike that's being proposed.
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 9:38pm
A yes vote makes cents is what it does. It gives local governments to spend as the please paying the high wages, benefits, health insurance, and pensions of employees that make their annual visits filling in the same pot holes on a yearly bases. After getting scammed on Proposal A that was supposed to fund schools and replace property taxes the voters rejected the Enhancement Proposal. and here comes another fund the schools proposal. I am 100% for fixing the roads I am 100% against Proposal One
Mon, 04/20/2015 - 12:46am
I would vote yes on proposal 1 if it was a 1 cent increase in sales tax dedicated entirely to the roads, about 800 million per year. The legislature could have done this, but they chose to add all this other crap that has nothing to do with it. Sorry there is not enough money to fund the teachers pensions at this time. In addition, how does the cost of the pensions rise fivefold in three years? Don't they have a 401k like everyone else was forced in to? I am of the understanding the mass transit money is for Detroit only. Why should everyone else have to pay for that. At a recent meeting of county officials, due to the substantial shortfall proposal 1 will actually provide for road repairs, all municipalities will have to ask the citizens for more money in addition. At what point will people get tired of the hidden agendas, irrelevant funding add ons, and lack funding dedication that allows money to be transferred to other programs. A lot more would get done if the legislature kept it simple. Please correct me on any point if I am wrong. It is getting to the point where the middle class an no longer afford to pay the bills by themselves.
Jim Dixon
Mon, 04/20/2015 - 6:17am
The Repugnicans got into office--gave millions in tax breaks to companies and the 1% and now are whining that there is no money to fix the roads. So while they spend, spend, spend and avoid their responsibilities, now they expect the public to haul their ashes for them. ENOUGH! Time for Lansing to act like real grown-up adults, take responsibility for their goof-ups and INCREASE TAXES ON BUSINESSES AND THE WEALTHY that were cut and end this mess.
Mon, 04/20/2015 - 10:30am
It is so nice seeing the Tea partiers and the far left come together like this! Who says our nation can't get over it's partisan canyon that some many Bridge Writers fret will tear us apart. What will be next?
Mon, 04/20/2015 - 10:45am
On May 5th, when Prop 1 goes to epic defeat in one of the largest refusals on record, perhaps the ding, ding, ding of the bell of reason and revolt from citizens will be heard. Prop 1 has 46,000 words! (?) Try this. "Any and all funding/revenue generated from this Proposal will be, by law, only used for the repair, rebuilding and improvement of roads and bridges and related infrastructure." 28 words, two seconds to think of and 7 seconds to type. Not the ten years of planning claimed by a democrat rep. Maybe that bell will be heard when recalls are made for the charlatans who sponsored and co-sponsored the Prop are made. They've shown their colors and it isn't red/white/blue. They are an embarrassment and disgusting. Question; Will any of the funds if approved be used for the massive new interchange and plaza required for the "new" International Bridge? I read Canada will pay for the bridge, but not for necessities on US soil for it. Prediction; When Prop 1 is resoundingly defeated, Lansing will now go into punishment mode. That they do very well. Like little children being told no and admonished, they will have their tantrum. It's time after the vote for citizens to have one.
John S.
Mon, 04/20/2015 - 12:02pm
The proposal does not address the major cause of Michigan's poor roads--the high weight limits on trucks. To be sure, more money should be spent to fix the roads. With one of the lowest diesel fuel taxes in the country, however, Michigan truckers don't pay their fair share. In this state, it would appear, it's the trucking companies, the truckers, and those who pay the shipping bills who call the shots on weight limits. Why would truckers want to pay for the damage they cause to roads when they can get somebody else to pay? Don't tax me; tax that guy behind the tree. More money can be spent to fix the roads, but then what? With heavy trucks still on the road, the damage will continue.
Mon, 04/20/2015 - 3:49pm
I too will be voting against Proposal 15-1. Although the proposal has many good aspects, it’s too complex and has implications far beyond what is implied from the ballet. I would be happy to support a sales or gasoline tax increase if it was dedicated to repairing our roads and bridges. However, I cannot support a proposal this complex that enables so many other laws. One of the many non-obvious results of this proposal would be a new surcharge on electric vehicles. I do not own an electric vehicle, but I cannot support a proposal that discourages their use. Michigan should encourage the use of environmentally friendly vehicles; not penalize them with special taxes. The federal government provides a $7,500 tax credit and many states also provide large incentives to purchase electric vehicles. As the center of the US automobile industry, we should be leading in automotive innovation. It’s time for Michigan to support hybrids, electric vehicles and other environmentally friendly vehicles. If the legislature is unable to come up with anything better than this, we should replace the legislators.
Mon, 04/20/2015 - 7:46pm
VOTE NO. Let's get a fair tax proposal on the ballot that is specific to roads in regards to dollars raised and a specific time period. None of this multi spending forever tax!!! VOTE NO as many times as you can!!!
Mon, 04/20/2015 - 11:08pm
Mr. Gilman seems to opitimize the Proposal 1 proponents, there is all of this opposition with so much emotion and yet they don't seem to care. The proponents are like sea gulls they drop their views and fly away. As best I can tell one of the undercurrents is a lack of confidence in the agencies that would spend the money. I am amazed that no Proposal 1 proponents are asking why people are so distrustful and asking how that trust could be established so people could support the Proposal. It would seem if the Proposal fails now that the proponents could learn so when it is resubmitted, it will need to be, they will have learned how address the issues and making the proposal better/smarter. Asking is easy, the listening can be hard if you are not practiced at it. So many seem unwilling to learn.
Tue, 04/21/2015 - 9:09am
I have not seen anything that lays out specifically which roads would be affected if Proposal 1 passes. I believe many of our roads are the responsibility of county road commissions and individual cities. What about the interstates? Who maintains those? The proponents refer in general terms to "Michigan roads". I cannot believe that every road and bridge within the state would benefit from the portion of this bill that goes for roads. Can anyone out there enlighten me?
Tue, 04/21/2015 - 10:13am
Until the farmers start paying their fair share of road taxes, then I'll vote for increased funding. Farmers don't pay for licenses for the tractors that are on road, they don't pay sales tax on any farm equipment. The farmers drive their tractors with manure spreaders attached, they drive their combines and other equipment on the roads. Do you realize how much these weigh? They can weigh up to 5,000 pounds. Make them pay!
Tue, 04/21/2015 - 6:16pm
Vote NO !! Let our cowardly legislature do their job. They could have avoided a 5/5 election, which cost all of us, to vote NO. Then what !!! We The People should not be held hostage.
Wed, 04/22/2015 - 11:07pm
Returning this issue to our legislature will likely raise the gas tax to 43 cents (or more) per gallon within the next 7 years. Think about that. If, for example, gas is $3.00 per gallon and you buy 10 gallons of gas you will pay $4.30 in tax (wholesale prices are passed on to consumers). Alternatively, under proposal one if you buy $30 in goods and/or services you will pay seven percent or $2.10 in tax. What a huge difference, especially for those in poverty. The problem with the gas tax is that a portion will go to the federal government reducing its effectiveness. Also, our economy is driven by energy prices. Increase the price (of gas) and consumption will go down which results in a negative impact on Michigan's fragile economy. This in turn negatively impacts consumer confidence. The price of energy (in this instance - gas) has that power over us. From the commenter's on most of the articles that are written on this vote who are expressing that they want a simple bill, I am beginning to wonder if the citizens of Michigan understand how bills are piece-milled together. We the People have to become more engaged. The idea of an efficient legislature is a pipe dream. This proposal *is* simple from a legislative point of view. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has a good report regarding the proposal and it is an unbiased presentation (definitely worth a read). Paying more tax may not seem like the right thing to do, but it is the right choice. Our next step needs to be to require our legislators to require MDOT to spend all of their funding on rebuilding our roads and bridges and to abandon all other investments. This idea will take time. However, it is as essential as voting yes May 5th.
Wed, 04/22/2015 - 11:23pm
William, What if we require the Legislators to actually write the Bills and then require all to read them before they vote on them. Do you think that might make the laws simpler? Do you think it might reduce the number of Bills voted on and the number passed even fewer?
Thu, 04/23/2015 - 10:01am
I have to (embarrassingly) redact my previous comment for the following reason: If the ballot proposal is approved by voters, an increase the gasoline tax rate to 41.7 cents per gallon and the diesel fuel tax rate to 46.4 cents per gallon will be set in motion. These rates will become effective on October 1, 2015 and remain in effect through September 30, 2016. These rates do not remain fixed over time. To address the funding challenges posed by today’s fixed per-gallon motor fuel tax rates, Public Act 468 sets up an annual adjustment process for future rates. Effectively, the proposal calls for an increase in the traditional per-gallon tax rates for gasoline and diesel fuel and indexes these new rates to inflation.
Wed, 04/22/2015 - 11:32pm
I have already voted NO and I hope the ballot proposal is turned down so that the gutless legislators will do their job and put the cost of fixing the roads where it should be.......namely the people and businesses that use the roads through a fuel tax increase.