Plan B or no Plan B, here’s what happens if road proposal fails

Second of two parts

If Proposal 1 has an unofficial tagline, it’s the one that Gov. Rick Snyder and others have repeated over and over since the roadshow to pass the road-improvement measure began:

No Plan B.

“If the proposal fails, there is no Plan B for the roads,” Snyder told the Detroit News on his tour of editorial boards this spring, repeating the line in radio interviews, and speeches.

To which political observers say, “There’s always a Plan B.”

Even Rep. Tim Greimel, the Democratic leader in the Michigan House, acknowledges there has to be an alternative, barring the miraculous invention of pavement that somehow heals itself.

“If this doesn’t pass in May,” he said. “Either the roads will not get fixed for years to come, or the roads will get fixed under the House proposal.”

That’s a reference to a measure that passed the House in the lame-duck legislative session last December, but failed to advance. It raised the gas tax while simultaneously reduced the sales tax, to ease the shock of a rapid rise in the pump price. A lowered sales tax would necessarily raise less money for schools and municipal governments but the House plan assumes continued economic growth in the state would make up for it. Mitch Bean, former head of the House Fiscal Agency, said at the time that the economic impact would be an $800 million annual loss to the School Aid Fund by 2020.

At the time, Greimel called the House measure “reckless and irresponsible.” He hasn’t changed his mind.

“It would cut schools and revenue sharing” to municipal governments, he said. “There’s no way around that.”

Greimel despairs of the constituency among voters that believes that there exists a “secret pot of money” somewhere in Lansing, in a world where, if only lawmakers budgeted better, an extra $1.2 billion could be found to fix Michigan’s roads.

His colleague Marilyn Lane also believes this will be the alternative offered by leaders in the Republican-controlled House and Senate should Proposal 1 fail, and is confident any solution that damages schools and local governments will not get Democratic support.

“We’ll be back in the same boat we are now. If they’re going to take money from schools and (local governments), they will have to get their own votes. Democrats won’t help. That’ll be time to put feet up on the desks and say, ‘Showtime!’

“If you can’t do it bipartisan, you gotta go solo.”

More coverage: A Bridge primer: Untangling the pothole promise of Proposal 1
Who supports, and opposes, Proposal 1

Bipartisan gloom if Prop 1 fails

Jase Bolger, who as Speaker crafted the House plan and was involved in the subsequent political horse trading that became Proposal 1, said he believes there’s an alternative, too, but it will depend on a public willing to pay higher taxes.

“We were told the public was ready to support higher taxes, and as soon as this passed, the reaction was one of panic. I said, ‘Were (those lobbyists) lying? If the public believes that way, this shouldn’t be an issue.’

“I understand the frustration, but if the public wants to make sure (taxes paid at the pump) goes where it’s supposed to go, to roads, voting yes on 1 is the way to do that.”

Andy Johnston, vice president of government and corporate affairs for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, said he believes not only will there be a plan B, “there will be 149 different Plan Bs.”

The sorting process and legislative deliberations “will be a setback. But the longer we wait, it’s effectively a tax increase on Michigan residents, because the longer we wait, the more it will cost” to repair crumbling roads, Johnston said.

Wariness runs deep

Polling suggests Plan B should be on Lansing’s mind; Proposal 1 appears to be faltering badly.

John Cavanagh, co-founder of EPIC-MRA, the Lansing polling firm, begins his explanation of the most recent Proposal 1 polling numbers with the caveat that ballot questions can be tricky to measure in the weeks before an election. However, the most recent approval numbers on Proposal 1, gathered in March, are dismal.

Upon first being asked about the proposal, 66 percent of those sampled said they’d vote no. Once respondents were read the actual ballot language, that percentage rose to 70 percent. That echoes the first numbers from January, but the opposition margins are growing.

“Polling on statewide ballot issues is notoriously inaccurate,” said Cavanagh. “But probably not this one.”

Roger Martin disagrees. His public relations firm, Lansing-based Martin Waymire, is running the Safe Roads Yes campaign to build support for Proposal 1. (Full disclosure; Martin Waymire also does communications work for The Center for Michigan and Bridge Magazine. His firm has had no role in Bridge’s reporting on Proposal 1.)

“Michigan political history is littered with ballot questions that polled one way before Election Day and went the other way on Election Day,” he said, saying he can recall four such instances in his own professional experience.

“Voters want a simple explanation, and we’re doing our best to give them one,” Martin said. “Ultimately, there are two choices here: Vote yes and we fix the roads, or vote no and we keep the crummy roads we’ve got.”

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Thu, 04/09/2015 - 7:58am
"Voters want a simple explanation..." well yes of course but proposal 1 is anything but simple. Sorry, but I have to vote no and keep the crummy roads we've got until they come up with a better solution than proposal 1.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 6:11pm
Agreed! Regressive taxation is not what Michigan needs. How about a graduated income tax or stop putting nonviolent, drug-related offenders in jail for years or decades! Plenty of money in the prison budget if conservatives (minus true libertarians) stop re-enacting the "Refer Madness" hysteria of Bill Schuette. Of course, the money trail that follows prosecution and incarceration is a powerful lobby. When a state spends more on prisons than education, you can tell something's wrong. Synder slashed education and barely touched prisons.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 10:38am
Legalize marijauna and use the tax revenues generated. Add that to the thousands of prisoners doing 30-60 for having a couple lbs of pot being released, and you would have a very large chunk of change. People are doing more time for marijauna charges than 2nd degree murder.
Mon, 04/13/2015 - 11:58pm
Yeah what about the lottery? One of my biggest beefs is the confluence of "Fix the Roads" and "Fix the Schools." My mailbox is flooded with deceptive paper flyers that say "It's for the children- fund our schools." This is more political sausage and I'm tired of getting beat over the head for more taxes. This is genuinely bad timing on the heels of April 15, let alone bad proposals all around. Send the lawmakers and governor back to the drawing board and insist that they take no holidays or vacations until they hammer out a taxpayer-friendly solution that we don't feel in our wallets or anywhere else! These people technically work for us.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 9:46am
I would have voted for it if they had just done something simple like just raise the sales tax 1% and guarantee that entire 1% goes to the roads. Oh and a guarantee that money already earmarked for the roads continues to go to the roads. None of this "let's hit the people in as many directions as possible." Sales tax increase, tax at the pump increase, car registration fee/tax increase. And then all those other little activations of other laws that will happen if this proposal passes. So the money is raised a little slower - at least there is money raised. Don't the politicians understand that the more complicated they make things, the more the people feel as if they are the victims of a giant shell game? Just keep it simple and honest.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:08am
I agree. Remember Proposal A of 1994. The citizens voted to raise the sales tax from 4% to 6%. Almost before the ink was dry the legislature was exempting products from the tax. Schools were shorted of hundreds of millions of dollars, invalidating the financial premises of the proposal. I expect even worse from this legislature. Or remember the lottery. The additional lottery money went to education, but the legislature reduced what they had been putting in so there was no net increase. I expect Plan B be to be awful, but if it is not "set in stone" in the state constitution (as Proposal1 would be) it will be much easy and drastically cheaper for a future legislature to ameliorate it's effects.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:50am
Bob Governor Engler eliminated property taxes to fund the schools and raising the sales tax was to fund the schools. But this was only until voters approved Proposal A, which did lower property taxes for a short term, but property taxes for schools was re-instated after Proposal A was approved by the voters
David Waymire
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:58am
I'm sorry, but it's not true that the Legislature exempted any products from the sales tax after passage of Proposal A. And no property taxes were "reinstated." Under Proposal A, property taxes on homes were dramatically reduced, but allowed to increase from that smaller base as inflation and housing values dictated, with limits. So the property tax did increase over time...but it has not been "reinstated." It's important as we have this discussion that people know the facts, and not misunderstandings.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 1:20pm
My 2014 property tax bill has listed STATE EDUCATION TAX Also listed is SCHOOL OPERATING which some property owners pay and some do not pay
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 2:49pm
No, you are wrong! "Almost immediately after Proposal A was enacted,Public Act 49 of 1994 exempted drinks and food sold by mobile vendors. While this caused an approximate loss in revenues to the SAF of $5.6 million for 2002 alone, the significance of this first food exemption acted as a precedent for other food exemptions: Public Act 63 of 1995 exempted bakery goods sold from vending machines; Public Act 567 of 1996 exempted juice drinks sold from vending machines; Public Act 417 of 2000 exempted soft drinks sold from vending machines. Public Acts 328 and 329 permitted exemptions from sales taxes of food provided to employees of restaurants, even though the food was prepared and eaten on location" See p30 of for a whole bunch more of exemptions from the sales tax.
John Q.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 5:50pm
"Oh and a guarantee that money already earmarked for the roads continues to go to the roads." The proposal includes language that guarantees that gas taxes only go to the state transportation fund.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:40am
Right On!
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:21am
"just raise the sales tax 1% and guarantee that entire 1% goes to the roads" I feel like the proposal does about exactly what you are proposing here, I think? Sales tax goes into the general fund. So, they're exempting gasoline from sales tax and substantially raising the gas tax instead. That way, all of the tax paid at the pump goes to roads. To make up for the revenue shortfall from exempting gas from sales tax, they're proposing a 1% increase in sales tax on all of the remaining transactions that sales tax will still apply to. Now, as I understand it, the 1% increase in sales tax will do more than just make up for the revenue lost from exempting gasoline from sales tax, and the excess is being directed in various ways (expanded EITC, revenue sharing to cities, etc.) that were intended to get buy-in from various stakeholders in the legislature. Thus, for example, Democrats object to increases in sales tax as disproportionately affecting the poor, but were satisfied with the expanded EITC to make up for that.
David Waymire
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:59am
So you would raise the regressive sales tax, but not provide an Earned Income Tax Credit to keep low income families from paying a larger share than those of us with higher incomes? Just asking...because that was one of the critical components of Proposal 1 that helped it get legislative support.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 3:25pm
I don't see where I said what I would have done in my comment at all. I was just remarking that the Legislature appeared to do exactly what Pat was complaining that they should have done, so I didn't understand the complaint.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 6:17pm
'Just a reminder that it was Synder that nearly eliminated the Earned Income Credit while cutting business taxes. Maybe he's had a change of heart since then, but probably not. At least he expanded Medicaid which was a no-brainer for anyone that could do math.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 9:04am
The EITC means people are getting back money they never put in. They are not paying ANYTHING.
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 1:13am
Wrong. More of the BIG LIE. Poor working families pay a much larger percentage of their income in taxes than anyone else. They pay sales taxes, gasoline taxes, FICA and Medicare taxes, license and registration fees, property taxes, taxes on all of their utilities, city, state and federal income taxes. The EITC gives back some small amount of the tax money they have paid. Stop drinking the Fox Kool-Aid. Reprehensible to propagate these lies..
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 5:34pm
Well said! Should have asked for increase for roads... as stated... keep already allocated road funds in place. This proposal is exactly why the general public gets frustrated...Why the other avenues for spending are coming into play really irritates me.
Barry Visel
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 9:48am
There is a secret pot of money in's called the Tax Expenditure's made up of over $30 Billion dollars each year that we don't collect because of a glut of tax credits, tax deductions and tax incentives. Read all about it at this link. Just eliminate 1/30thof these tax expenditures and we could fix our roads!
David Waymire
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:04pm
It's $20 billion. And $10 billion of that is the exemption we provide services from the state's sales tax. Are you here advocating that we start imposing a sales tax on services? And if so, can you give me the names of the 20 Senators and 56 House members who are ready to vote for this? I'm sorry...another non-starter.
Barry Visel
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 1:08pm
The referenced document estimates tax expenditures at over $30 Billion...and, yes, I'm advocating we pay sales tax on fact I'm advocating we eliminate all tax expenditures and get back to a level playing field...and that would include lowering tax rates based on the added revenue. As for legislator support, they punted on road funding so I don't expect their support for anything. We need more education on all the tax expenditures.
Jeff Lundeen
Sat, 04/11/2015 - 1:15pm
No, Barry, according to the report you linked, Exhibit 3, it's $21.6 billion. Of that amount, $10.7 billion is from exempting services from the sales tax. So you object to a $1.7 billion tax increase because you'd rather increase taxes by $21.6 billion? Okay, good luck getting the votes to do that. Do you want service taxes applied to business to business services? Because that would be an accounting nightmare for any small business. Other tax expenditures include income attributable to other states at $2.3 billion. Do you think, if I work in Toledo but live in Monroe, I should pay both Ohio and Michigan income taxes on that Ohio income? What do you think I'll do if I am going to be taxed twice if I stay in Michigan? Oh, and the income tax personal exemption at $1.1 billion. That's in there as one of the few things allowing for some progressivity by allowing the first few thousand dollars to be exempt from the income tax. On top of that, the EITC is a tax expenditure, so I guess you'll want to get rid of that too. And let's not forget the pension tax exemptions built in a few years ago. Don't like the pension tax that Snyder got passed? Guess what, it will be back without any exemptions under your proposal. And there's also Social Security, which is exempt. not anymore. It's a tax expenditure, get rid of it. And, speaking of progressive taxes, food and prescription drugs are exempt from the sales tax. That's $1.9 billion combined. Poor people need to eat and take meds, but, hey, they can pay sales taxes on that stuff. So, sure, go for it, get rid of all tax expenditures. Run for office on that platform. Let's see how many votes you get.
Kathleen Bilger
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:00am
The governor has shifted around the school aid funding every year. Why should we believe him this time? It feels, in my opinion, as if the school funding is being held hostage in order to get Prop 1 passed. I am still not hearing anything about holding the road construction companies responsible for poor workmanship. I do not see road warranties being honored. I am not willing to provide more money for road construction until I see a logical, responsible plan for road repair and construction that uses methods where roads do not crumble, pit and pothole in less than ten years. Lets see school funding stabilize so the school districts are not in a position of scrambling each July to figure out staffing and making cuts. State control of school funding has hurt the districts more than it has helped. There is no level field for school funding, the formula has been adjusted too many times to be fair. In summary, the proposal may be confusing and complex but my answer is a simple NO way.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:04am
I am tired of the political games, the bait and switch, and, especially, having the gun held to the head. I am tired of having all kinds of unrelated things tacked to legislation to get it furtively passed. Legislators, do your job. Fix the roads. Don't use the roads to raise our sales tax, a regressive tax that hurts the poor. Don't steal from the schools and then promise some of the money back in legislation headlined to fix the roads. Don't try blackmailing us. Don't lie and tell us there is no plan B. There might not be one right now, but there is always an alternative. Frankly, it is my belief that the people who use the roads should pay for their wear and tear based on the frequency and harshness with which they use them. I hope citizens will vote no in May, and if our politicians don't come up with a viable option post haste, citizens will also be voting no for incumbents and yes to a new bunch of people who have the guts to do the job we elect them to do.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:45am
You go Girl!
David Waymire
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:06pm
I'll just note that we had that opportunity in November 2014...a Legislature that had failed to come up with a solution. And we rewarded most for not doing the hard thing by re-electing them. Not sure why anybody thinks there will be a different outcome this time. It's 16 months until the next general election. I don't think anybody will lose -- or win -- election based on Proposal 1, win or lose.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 2:03pm
Lois said "if our politicians don’t come up with a viable option post haste, citizens will also be voting no for incumbents and yes to a new bunch of people who have the guts to do the job we elect them to do. I say we should have done that in 2014 and in 2012 and in 2010 all the back to when J. Engler lied to us in 1990! Nobody but ourselves to blame.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:06am
If Proposal 1 fails, plan "B" will be to take millions from the School Aid Fund, to put a "Band- Aid" on road and bridge repairs, resulting in further cuts to education, while the roads and bridges will continue to deteriorate. The General Fund, which pays for road and bridge repairs, obviously does not have the revenue to move Michigan from 50th in the United States in road repair spending to a better number. Passage of Proposal 1 will infuse the General Fund with an additional $1.2 billion per year for road and bridge repair. We live in Michigan. This is our home. Would we allow our homes to crumble, and become unsafe, by not spending money for upkeep and repairs? Of course not. The same applies to our roads and bridges! Mike Shibler.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:48am
In what la la state do You live in? Spend road money on roads (& not fixing fixing Your house).
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:11am
I was going to vote for the whole mess until I found out that the for the first two years, the increased revenue will go to pay off debt. That was the final poison pill that will cause me to vote NO. I understand that a tax increase is necessary to increase revenue for the roads but as Pat said above, Proposal 1 is a shell game and I'm not playing it.
David Waymire
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:07pm
Would it change your mind if you learned that by paying off the debt faster (paying your mortgage down) the state saves about $1.5 billion over the next 20 years that can then be used for roads? Your opposition based on paying down the debt doesn't seem logical.
Sun, 04/12/2015 - 1:45am
David, No, because I have to hear it here rather then from my State Rep or Senator or Governor. The media doesn't even report it my town, Those in Lansing have lost my trust and they show no interest in trying to earn it back. My plan B is still to drive appropriate to the conditions. I expect that will continue ofr years, either until term limits flushes Lansing clean or they start trying to figure out the problem before they spend the money.
J Schneider
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:13am
I am all for repairing the roads. It needs to be done. But, I read the proposal and I don't see that it specifically says where the money will go. So, how do I know this won't be like the lottery money which, yes, supports education but is offset by a reduction of others funds supporting education? I will pay more taxes to fund our infrastructure but I don't want to be hoodwinked.
Mike Lyon
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:27am
I'm voting no. The bill is a byzantine mess. And it does nothing to assure that the roads would be built with any type of quality standards... so the same cruddy product would be put down to just crumble away in less than 5 years. And don't even bother asking me for additional tax dollars until the State does the MOST BASIC AND UNDERSTANDABLE tactic... lower per axle weights down to the level of the states around us. Does ANYONE understand this idiocy? Why does Michigan have the highest per axle weights in the Country?? Unbelievable.
Sun, 04/12/2015 - 1:51am
Mike' If they were willing to build the roads for the added weight it wouldn't b an issue. The airport runways take more stress and abuse and they survive longer because they spend the money to build to last, The people in Lansing (MDOT, Legislators, Governor) do seem willing to pay for what is necessary.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:38am
Boo Hoo! If we don't rob the public we can't get the roads fixed and the kids in school can't learn and we all in Lansing will maybe have to figure out some other way to feather our bed! What a crock of SH*T! If for one minute they (Dems & Repubics) the were get off their collective dead ass and work for the folks, maybe the whole mess could be worked out? Here is a proposal. Since U think the way to way to fix roads is to put your (smelly) feet up on the desk and do nothing. How bout we put U on a chain gang and give You (all) a pick and shovel and start fixing the roads? And further more, for every day You low life sob's don't come together and (creatively)find a solution we don't pay U all (every one of'em from the gov on down to every aid & staffer) till the job gets done. It seems that the only fix Lansing (and Washington) knows is (steal) more money from the the folks. The gas tax we pay now is plenty! Stop using it for all kinds of (personal) pet projects. Gas tax & license tag fees & sales tax on autos and auto repairs = Road Tax !! Not bike paths, parks, (empty buses) mass transit (schemes), and a host of other politician pocket lining BS. You want to ride a bike (on a path or trail), pay for it! If you want to have a park, pay for it! If You want to ride the bus, Pay for it! DO Not take my gas tax money and blow it on other crap that Does Not fix roads! And with all the money we spend on welfare, how bout putting those folks to work? From what I've seen (at the check out lines) most could use a little exercise. Bottom line? Fix the roads with the more than ample money We already pay (but waste)!!!
David Waymire
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:09pm
Worth noting that on a per person basis, Michigan pays less than any other state for roads. get what you pay for. Not sure having lawmakers pick up a shovel will help much, but you are entitled your opinion.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:39am
OH Yeah! VOTE NO!!!!
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:44am
Here is Plan B Raise the sales tax to fix the roads period. I am 100% for fixing the roads. I am 100% against Proposal One
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:54am
If our legislators would have any courage, they'd draft a straight forward bill for the roads. Why aren't we charging for the heavy trucks damaging our roads? And - what about a toll system like Ohio and Illinois have. They have very good roads, paid for by the people who travel them. And it's not at the expense of our schools, low income families and local governments. A solution isn't rocket science - other states have come up with workable solutions. I cannot vote yes on Prop 1 and threatening no back up plan is not a viable reason to approve a really lousy bill.
John S.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:01am
There's long been a need in Michigan to secure additional revenues by applying the sales tax to services (including those of registered lobbyists!). If the Republican governor insists on cutting business taxes to the bone, there's need to replace the lost revenues. Asking voters to go to the polls and vote to increase their taxes (many voters will see this as the only certain outcome of the proposal) is not going to fly, despite the TV ads that try to raise fears about unsafe roads.
Mark Swanson
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:06am
How soon we forget? Snyder gets a billion dollar tax cut for businesses, then comes back two years later wanting a billion from the taxpayers to pay for the businesses roads.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:50pm
This is my problem exactly. If there wasn't enough money to take care of the fiscal expenditures of the state, there wasn't enough money to reduce the tax burdens on corporations in the state (twice)
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:07am
Why do we have to pay for road repair when the Road Commission or who ever can't seem to ever build durable roads but build them just good enough to keep their jobs and try to fix them every couple of years? Why should we pay more money to those who will not do their jobs correctly to begin with? Snyder knows very well in business those who do not do their jobs well or are perceived to not do them well get fired. this is 2015 surely there is a better solution.
Larry Moss
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:09am
For years fuel taxes have been funding Schools and Revenue Sharing, instead of going entirely for Transportation as it should. Proposal 1 puts Schools and Revenue Sharing back on the Sales Tax where they belong and dedicates fuel taxes entirely for Transportation. I was totally against Prop 1, until I had the opportunity to study it, ask questions and get a full understanding of what is does. Is it perfect? Hell no!! Name me a piece of legislation that is! But there is no better proposal out there, and there won't be - we'll just be the state of shitty roads for another generation and watch as talent continues to flee our state. Vote Yes on Prop 1.
Jon B
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:25pm
Finally a voice of reason! A lot of emotional comments here with incorrect information. If we are unable to deal with complex voting issues in today's partisan world and simply vote no, we are in serious trouble heading into the future. There are no free lunches and robbing Peter (schools, other local government agencies) to pay Paul (roads) will take all of the state to a bad place. I voted yes today as did my wife. It's time to stop complaining and do something!
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 2:08pm
Nonsense. They are cutting the income tax, and having cut the business tax, and having borrowed money to fix the roads in the past, they don't have the courage to raise taxes SO they put it on us. Here is the reasonable thing to do: a) raise the gas tax high enough to pay for the roads (user tax) and/or b) raise the income tax (much fairer than a sales tax). THAT is reasonable. But we have an idiotic public who elects idiots who believe: a) no new taxes no matter what; and b) opps, we need money so let's dump the problem on the public. If this doesn't pass (and it won't because the "no votes" always vote in these elections), then the Michigan Chamber of Commerce should begin a petition drive to do what I suggested above AND do a petition drive for a part-time legislature with no lifetime benefits.
Sun, 04/12/2015 - 1:59am
Larry, You seem to say vote for a shitty proposal simply because that is all that is available. That sounds like let the Legislators and the Governor and MDOT do a shitty job because that is what they want to do. When do we say no to shitty or do we continue to accept shitty?
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:26am
There is an old saying that to not decide is to decide. To have no plan B is crazy. Make each and every bill, amendment, or voting issue stand on it's own merits. Bundling just confuses everyone. Congrats. you have accomplished the confusing part. R.L.
Clifford Styrk
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:31am
Time to step back take a look at what politics has become. We used to find solutions to problems our state had, politicians wanted to be respected for doing the " common good" and in turn be reelected but through their own greed the voters decided term limits was the cure. That's the wolf in the hen house! Serve your limited terms, follow strictly your party lines, pocket all political donations and be rewarded with another state position with an appointment or with a lobbying firm lobbying active politicians of your party to show what they can look forward to. Proposal One is an abdication of the oath of office of these state politicians! Huge tax cuts for corporations have not provided middle class paying jobs to offset those tax cuts, republicans here are marionettes to national PAC's concerned with crushing funding of the rival party, passing so called social laws to divide and give preference to high voter turnouts. The tax record of our republicans most recently have hurt the poor, the working poor and what's left of the middle class. Proposal One would continue that further , another one percent sales, added to higher gas and fuels taxes and watch out for vehicle registration fees! Lansing politicans should own state tax policies not misinformed voters!
Larry Moss
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 11:50am
Clifford, I agree with you on every point, but defeating this proposal will not change any of those things. The people have got to want to change their government. This is the most progressive bill I have ever seen out of this R state legislature (I can't believe they actually passed it). The rise in the sales tax is offset by raising the state's Earned Income Tax Credit, which will give the average qualifying family $620/yr - enough to cover the increase in sales tax. This proposal untangles the mess created by Engler and, yes, Granholm - putting off till tomorrow what they did not want to deal with today. It pays for itself and gives cities and schools a badly-needed raise. Pass Proposal 1, then let's roll up our sleeves and get to work on the rest of your agenda. It all starts at the polls.
Jon B.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:27pm
Oh my gosh, another rational comment! Thank you!
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 2:11pm
No, a progressive idea would be to raise the income tax NOT the sales tax.
Sun, 04/12/2015 - 2:09am
George, A progressive idea would be to investigate the root causes, not the convient excuses, of why the roads aren't lasting and address them. How much of the road fails start from where the tires roll versus from the seams and edges, how many of the repairs are pendicular to the tire paths, how many of the road repairs are from failures under the pavement? There is more to the roads and bridges than heavy trucks. Start by understanding the problem rather then asking for other people's money to spend, that would be progress.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 5:58pm
Give more money to schools to put towards the pension fund increases.. Reaching almost 30% of their salaries?!! Yet to see any school increases the past 7 years go to students.. Goes directly to shore up teachers retirement fund... Our children are the ones who games.. As previously stated.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:22pm
These problems have much of their source in Michigan's many governmental/tax system stupidities. Our sales tax and gas tax programs create the situation where our sales taxes place a big burden on a small segment of our economy (excluding amusements, food and services) yielding the highest tax per gallon in our region yet very little of it actually going to our roads. Our again relatively high property taxes rather than going to educating our kids and maintaining our roads get divided among too many anachronistic fiefdoms (townships, small school districts, villages, road commissions, Etc). Unfortunately there will be constant struggles until obsolete offices and taxes are remedied. Not hopeful.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:45pm
The most unfair tax of all is the property tax for non-homesteaders. You get 18 mils added to your property tax plus you can not vote for or against all the little "it's only $1 per day" millages that get aded on for anything that anyone in the community can think of. Plus we don't use the roads for half the year or need most of the services supplied by the city. Time to sell the place in MI and let them tax themselves to death.
Big D
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 2:01pm
Rich (how appropriate): You're the "filthy rich" that Bridge Magazine contributors rail against, so I suppose they're elated you're thinking of leaving Michigan high and dry. I completely understand your attitude. Oh well.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:47pm
One of the biggest problems with Prop 1 is it's not really just about the roads. There are too many other problems with the proposal. If they would quit stealing money from the school aid fund, the schools would be fine. You can't keep shifting money around and then complain about the lack of funds. And to add extra fees to those who drive a Prius?? Don't we want people to be environmentally conscious? This is just another bait-and-switch proposal, brought to us by incompetent pols afraid to make a sensible decision because they are afraid to upset their "base". Add my vote to the NO side.
Rip Van Winkle
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 1:03pm
I am tired of people running for public office, and then running away from making any decision that they view as impairing their ability to be re-elected. I am tired of the members of the Michigan legislature and the governor who either don't have the courage of their convictions, or don't have any conviction at all, as shown by their unwillingness to pass legislation to fix our roads but, instead, to fabricate the complicated hodgepodge known as Proposal 1, and foist it on the electorate. I am tired of apologists for the politicians explaining that we have no choice but to pass a complicated ballot measure because there is no "Plan B." I am tired and am going to sleep now. Wake me when we have politicians with common sense and courage.
Big D
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 1:57pm
We have a simple problem... Well, it was simple, then the politicians messed up road funding by diverting the taxes to other "worthy" uses, some even actually "road related". Of course, that is the process to get anything scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. ...or put another way, I know what you want, and whether or not I agree, I'll hold your want hostage for something I want that I know you don't want. Notice where the We The People are mentioned/served in the above--nowhere. Oh yes, the simple problem... Of course, it was simple until these politicians had to complicate it with hostages and ransom and special interests and ....and.... I don't care if there "is no Plan B"...or C, or D. This pile of taxes does not deserve to be approved.
Kimberly Johnson
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 2:59pm
As a long time, diligent reader of Bridge I vote this thread of reader comments is by far the most interesting, engaged and informative response thread to any article that I can remember. I believe the rule of thumb is after 225 comments nothing new is being said. I think embedded in these 43 comments are some fledgling "Plan B's". Wonder if a doable Plan B will emerge if we can get up to 225 informed comments?
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 2:59pm
To have no plan B is a demonstration of the arrogance of lawmakers who are afraid to do their job or the will of the people. I will vote no. They could easily add additional road tax to the price of motor fuels and designate all of it to road repairs. A majority of people recognize the need to raise taxes to generate the money. To refuse to do this is an abdication of their responsibility.
Sun, 04/12/2015 - 2:17am
kincaid, It isn't arrogance, it is a type of extortion. Claim there is no alternative and then try to scare the voters with the ads. It has worked for generations and has finally worn thin. Plan C is to put up the orange cones, slow people down and make them think the money is being spent on the roads. Except that is probably the plan if the Proposal passes or fails.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 3:20pm
How sad that at a Federal level and some states that the approval rating of people we elect to office can't even get into the teens. Those who don't vote are the ones who elect those in office. Less than 50% of people vote and just over 50% of them get someone elected. You get what you deserve. Get out and vote or quit complaining. R.L.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 6:03pm
Proposal 1 would raise 1.2 billion for the roads? And the business tax cut Snyder gave away was 1.7 billion. Hmmmm.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 8:20pm
The comparison to a shell game is accurate. 17% increase in sales taxes on top of a $500 million sales tax increase just signed for internet sales. The 14.9% tax on gas and diesel seems cheap when gas is cheap, but when gas goes back to $4 the tax doubles. Roads are deteriorating $3 million per day, or $1 billion per year, and we are 11 years behind fixing them. This new solution puts $200 million per year toward the problem for the first three years. By the time the money starts to fix the roads we are 14 years behind. Other than increasing our own taxes, and insulating our legislators from responsibility for the problem and the solution, we also have to pay $400 per year for the damage to our cars. Doing nothing is a huge profit over bettng that the answer is under any of the moving shells.
Thu, 04/09/2015 - 9:18pm
When Steven Ingersoll, now convicted felon and continued owner of the for profit charter school management company Smarts Schools Inc, can take $1.6 million from the coffers of the Grand Traverse Academy and have the missing taxpayer money written off to bad debt by his self appointed board consisting of friends and business partners with no investigation or pursuit of the missing funds, then I’m going to say a big NO to any further taxes. For those who read the Detroit Free Press 8-part expose on the non-existent oversight of charter schools in Michigan, as well as The Bridge’s coverage about the Grand Traverse Academy, you know that if one small charter school can have millions missing with no criminal investigation, just imagine the big picture here. Our governor ran on a platform of more charter schools without any moratorium to retroactively fix a system that is drawing cons from across the country to open their get rich quick, for profit charter schools. So here’s my Proposal B. Fix the charter school fraud/abuse and you’ll find plenty of money to fix the roads. I know where you can get a quick $1.6 million. Let’s start there!
Plan 9 From Out...
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 7:30am
So true! Margaret Hackett, a Grand Rapids attorney representing the Grand Traverse Academy board, testified on March 3 in Steven Ingersoll’s federal fraud trial that during a May 20, 2013 Academy board meeting, Ingersoll asked the board to characterize his $3.5 million dollar indebtedness to the charter school as a “loan”. When asked by the prosecution why Steven Ingersoll needed to have his debt “recharacterized”, Hackett said Ingersoll told her he “needed the sums characterized as a loan for reasons related to an IRS investigation and/or audit.” When asked by the government if the Grand Traverse Academy, as a public school academy, was even allowed to make a loan, Hackett said no. Saying that the Grand Traverse Academy had “no legal authority” to loan money to Steven Ingersoll, Hackett explained that Michigan law prohibits a public body, like the appointed board of a charter school, from making any loans. As of today, there has been no investigation by any State of Michigan official into Ingersoll's GTA activity, and that of its board. Guess it was a "loan" after all!
William Richardson
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 12:12am
VOTE NO! There IS another plan........Who is kidding who? Bolger and Snyder have NO idea informed the Mi. middle class is.......VOTE NO!
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 8:04am
i vote no. Im all for switching to a gas tax to ensure $ goes to roads. Im all for raising the sales tax to make up for the shortfall in sales tax that would occur from not having sales tax on gas, but to then raise sales tax to raise more $ for the school and the government feels/is deceiving/manipukative and a totally different issue than addressing the roads. Separate the 2 issues!!!! Stop hanging one issues over another issue and then telling people who vote no that we dont care about the roads or care about the schools - i disagree with the package, not the idea in general.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 8:23am
It is all a matter of choices, and I believe that the voters will speak clearly. When the sales tax increased from 4 to 6%, we were promised lower property taxes, which we got for a very short duration. Then school districts added more and more millage proposals, and here I am today paying when I paid before the 2% increase, AND I have a 2% increase. Fool me once... I most certainly am voting "no", and hoping that the Republican House bill passes. Use the sales tax from fuel for the roads. If schools and local governments get a little less, so be it. They can stop funding pensions for their employees, and make their employees pay for their health care. That is what has happened in the private sector, and that is what should happen in the public sector. This is the new economy, and it is time public employees joined the real world. We have spoken loudly and clearly. We want our governments to provide essential services. No tax increases of any kind or nature. Learn to prioritize. The public has learned how to adjust to the post 2008 world. Government should do the same.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 9:19am
I'm voting no because after all is said and done they (the legislature) will do the same thing they always do.... reduce the general fund transportation budget in the future because of the new money if this passes and use it for other pet projects and earmarks. Just like funding education from the lottery folks.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 9:31am
Voters want to know where the road money that is already being collected from our license plate fees and the gas taxes is being spent. There have been VERY LITTLE projects on the roads - a few little patch jobs, and a whole lot of money is drifting off into someone's pockets. I personally travel this state from west coast (north and south) to Detroit and to Houghton Lake and to the southern border - and can list the number of actual road projects I have seen in the last 2 or 3 years on one hand. Someone is pocketing the money - and until we see what they already get from our pockets - we the voters will be voting NO!
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 9:49am
From the commenters who are expressing that they want a simple bill, I am beginning to realize that the citizens of Michigan do not 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. “I understand the frustration, but if the public wants to make sure (taxes paid at the pump) goes where it’s supposed to go, to roads, voting yes on 1 is the way to do that.” Said Jase Bolger. If you prefer to pay upwards of 50 cents per gallon of gas just in tax (sending more money to the Federal Government than under proposal 1) be my guest. A tax is going to go up and you and I are going to pay it. Voting no means that the issue will return to our legislators who will make more and different deals leaving everyone with an even more unreasonable tax and even further behind when it comes to road and bridge replacement. No one wants to pay more tax, however, a penny more in sales tax will be money going directly to Michigan programs. Voting yes to add funding to rebuild our roads and bridges (infrastructure) has absolute positive effect on our economy.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 9:53am
Funding road work was the top priority for the last legislative session. After sitting on this issue for a full year, the legislature left this to a ballot measure for voters. Michigan is one of 9 states with a full time Legislature, and at this point, I believe that our Plan B should be that if the Legislature isn't going to do what they were voted in for nor what we pay them for, then something needs to be done about it. My idea for a Plan B is that if Proposal 1 fails, all lawmakers shuld be given notice that they have 60 days to come up with an alternative funding plan that is acceptable to the voters or a ballot drive will commence to make the Legislature part time and end term limits. I would also like to see something said about about holding the road construction companies responsible for poor workmanship and road warranties being honored. I'm not willing to provide more money for road construction until/unless I see a logical, responsible plan for road repair & construction that uses methods where roads do not crumble & pothole in less than a year or two.
John McElroy
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 10:52am
Let's talk numbers. The governor and MDOT want $1.4 billion to build better roads and bridges. There are 7 million licensed drivers in Michigan. So, if motorists are to bear the burden, the state needs $200 per motorist. It we want to use gasoline taxes to pay for it all (the average driver uses about 500 gallons of gasoline a year) that comes to 40 cents a gallon on top of what we pay now. Michigan drivers will go ballistic when they hear that number. As angry as people are reacting to Prop 1, they will probably be even madder when they hear about any alternative.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:19am
Neither Mr. Greimel and his Democrats, Mr. Bolger and his Republicans, and the Governor care about what we get for our taxes since they have yet to make an effort to establish results accountability for any of the spending, especially the on the roads. MDOT doesn’t hold the contractors accountable for the contracts and their work, the Governor doesn’t hold MDOT accountable for their lack of actions, the Democrats and Republicans never include anything in their laws that require performance reporting on results of the spending, they all simply don’t care when it is other people’s money they are spending. They all keep doing the same things with no change in results. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.-Albert Einstein I am getting off this ride to insanity and changing how I vote. My plan B is drive slower to match conditions, just like when MDOT puts out the organge cones with the Reduce Speed signs.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:27am
Legislators could solve road issues by doing two things, first by charging a flat tax so those who make more pay more instead of forcing middle class workers to raise their own taxes by voting for several increases in taxes and spending. Secondly by looking to neighboring states whose roads are good and funded accordingly and doing the right things to assure they stay that way. I for one think that the average worker pays more than enough already and the 14 corporations that pay nothing need to start paying their fair share. Finding out that money was taken from pension funds to buy bonds for something the state doesn't want to further fund and getting no return to those pension funds while they continue to fade is bad government. Stop borrowing from me to pay for your business tax tax breaks.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:43am
If I was a family of four with two wage earners making minimum wage I may vote yes just to get that 177.00 while I gave up .05 percent of my pay, , which doesn't include registration fees,Internet tax ect. That amount might pay for a license plate. Stop listening to the lobbyists and listen to the people you work for.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:50am
After 20 plus years in the military I learned early on that there is ALWAYS a plan B, or contingency, to any operation. How can these elected "leaders" say there is no plan B?!?! I'm baffled by their lack of leadership! It's almost as if they've given up on working for the people.
mark Mazur
Sat, 04/11/2015 - 8:56pm
They want to try and box us in a corner telling us if you don't vote yes nothing will get done. Then there is the ad about our safety and our children's safety and boxing us in a corner over safety then you better vote yes on prop 1. These politicians are pathetic.
John Q. Public
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 6:58pm
There's no Plan B. So what? There was no Plan A, either--until there was. They did it once; I'll bet they can do it again, the laments of the PR people who are going to great lengths to keep from seeing their efforts end in dismal failure notwithstanding.
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 10:07pm
Michigan's deteriorating roadways.....Maybe when I stop seeing TWO workers watching the ONE guy holding a shovel, I'll buy into reform.
Kevin Volz
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:19pm
When legislators start showing some fiscal responsibility, I will start trusting them with a tax increase but when our legislators waste our tax dollars just so every Senator has a view of the capital, they don't deserve more of our tax dollars. In my opinion, none of our legislators have earned any special treatment such as an office with a view of the capital. Our current administrion and legislators have simply shoved the burden of a larger state budget onto the backs of the taxpayers instead of being fiscally responsible with our tax dollars. They have also decreased the amount of the tax burden businesses pay. I realize that this is partially to make Michigan more attractive to businesses and I agree that the small businesses were paying more than their fair share while big business paid less than their share but to expect the tax payers to pick up the slack is also unfair. Fiscal responsibility is the correct answer.
Sat, 04/11/2015 - 11:39am
The Snyder regime has raided the education funds to line pockets of greedy corporations. To say 300+ million goes to education is simply disingenuous.
Sat, 04/11/2015 - 5:55pm
This is why everyone is voting NO on Proposal 1. Plan B is simple: Re-write Proposal 1 so 100% of Revenue goes to Roads - with ZERO dollars going to any other pork-belly funds. No General Fund - No Kickbacks Road Contracts only given to those who do NOT have any financial ties to the State (family or otherwise), or kickbacks in any form. Contracts include WARRANTY which will hold them Liable to repair on their cost. It's quite simple - Use the money for what it was intended for. But it's all about Republicans submitting to their donors, and padding their wallets as much as possible. Taxpayers are sick of constantly paying to shore up the rich.
Sat, 04/11/2015 - 7:49pm
I Do not trust Snyder nor the REPubs. They have screwed me and Michigan over for the past 6 years. The 18 wheelers screw up the roads more than normal Michigan drivers with their cars. Let Snyder get back the 8 Billion in tax breaks he gave to corporations. .... Proposal 1 down not have a snow balls chance in hell. Snyder has sucked enough money from the poor and middle class. Time for the 1% ers to do their share.!!!!
Mark Mazur
Sat, 04/11/2015 - 8:49pm
Maybe the rouge river bridge will get fixed when someone falls through it. Ridiculous but pure Michigan.
Sun, 04/12/2015 - 2:53pm
THERE IS NO PLAN B!! Every day that the road infrastructure continues to crumble, the more expemsive the fix will be. Because there is so little money to address the road infrastructure issue, many of the current road repairs are merely band aids. This is not the fault of the road agencies - there are not adequate funds. The so-called plan B is a joke. Last year's house plan would not raise the necessary funding to address our road needs - so the roads will continue to decline. This is like a leak in your roof. If you don't fix it, it gets worse...and more expensive to fix. I did not want this solution, but it's the only option on the table. VOTE YES ON PROP 1.
John Q. Public
Mon, 04/13/2015 - 11:33pm
David Hannum was right....
Sun, 04/12/2015 - 7:13pm
While I am pleased to see that Proposal 1 assures that school funding will not be sacrificed to fix our roads,the wording in the proposal as it appears on the ballot is a bit "squishy" giving no specifics or guarantees that the money won't be co-opted for some other purpose in the future. I'm also concerned that a 7% sales tax will be disproportionately hard on those who have the least to spend. Grand Rapids voters approved a measure in 2014 to increase property tax assessments for a limited time period to cover the cost of fixing city roads. Since revenues would not be available until 2016, the city borrowed against anticipated revenues and started fixing the roads within a few months of the election. Seems simple to me. What's stopping the legislators from devising a similarly simple plan?
Wed, 04/15/2015 - 5:44pm
Tis is a Classic story of Ineffective & inefficient Leadership & Management; Lansing waste $54 Billion Dollars a Year; & No Money for State of the Art Road Construction; Give me a Break; Lower the sales Tax to 4% & tell these Clowns to Take a Hike; Part-Time Legislature Proposal to Start; & Look for & find more effective & efficient Leadership for State of MI is where this should END ...
Thu, 04/30/2015 - 11:36pm
Two years ago, a proposal on the ballot passed (much to my dismay) and they said that was to fix the roads. What ever happened to that??? So no ... I am not voting for proposal 1. Let the people in Lansing take a pay cut. Lord knows we all have had to. And our pay is stagnate right now. We don't need any more taxes. We are taxed to death. We need another Boston Tea Party.