With roads measure crushed, a search for Plan B

Now that Michigan voters have made roadkill of Proposal 1, legislators are back to square one in the search for consensus on fixing the roads – with no clear map among the Republican leaders who control Lansing for how to get there.

There seems but one sure bet for now: Michigan's pavement and bridges will continue to get worse and the cost to fix them will continue to mount.

Gov. Rick Snyder spoke only in generalities Tuesday after the proposal went down by roughly 4-to-1, with most county results in. He spoke of the need for “a comprehensive, long-term solution” and vowed to “work with my partners in the Legislature.”

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, took the vote as a public mandate for low taxes and a “simple solution” for fixing Michigan roads. “We will begin work immediately on addressing the road funding issue that still faces this state.”

As for Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Ottawa County: “There is no specific plan at this time,” said Amber McCann, his spokesperson, before Tuesday’s vote. She noted that Meekhof had backed a 2014 measure to add $1 billion in funding that cleared the state Senate, only to die in the House, and said he is “ready to begin the discussion anew.”

While the governor insisted throughout the campaign that there was no Plan B if Proposal 1 failed, the House Speaker suggested the opposite might be true.

Gideon D'Assandro, spokesman for Cotter, said shortly before the vote that “there won't be one Plan B” if Proposal 1 loses. “There will be many Plan B's. That will make moving forward and finding a new compromise in a timely manner extremely difficult, which could delay needed repairs.”

With conventional wisdom holding that Republican legislators will be even less likely to vote for tax increase in 2015, Republican leaders may find themselves needing more help from Democrats to get a roads measure passed.

As for those Democrats, they blamed Proposal 1’s flameout on voters fed up at paying more than their fair share for road repairs. House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, said Snyder’s aggressive business tax cuts have stuck the middle class with too large a financial burden.

“Michigan families have sacrificed, and it’s past time corporations chip in,” Greimel said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday night. He added that voters don’t want another referendum, but expect lawmakers to “do their jobs.”

Money doesn’t talk

Tuesday’s Proposal 1 loss wasn’t for lack of money.

According to Rich Robinson of the nonprofit Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Safe Roads Yes, the committee backing the measure, raised nearly $8.7 million in support. Its chief contributor is the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, a construction trade group, which contributed $5.6 million. By contrast, three committees registered to oppose Proposal 1 raised $195,527.

Susan Demas of Inside Michigan Politics, a Lansing newsletter, foresees more political chaos ahead.

“I think the most likely scenario is the piecemeal approach to roads we've seen for years – moving some money around, but no comprehensive solution...trying to get a majority of both houses and the governor on the same page has been vexing.”

Demas noted that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce threatened to back a ballot initiative in 2014 to fund roads as a means of pressuring lawmakers to act on the issue. But the state chamber remained conspicuously neutral on Proposal 1 – citing a lack of consensus among its members.

With the failure of Proposal 1, Demas said, “I can't believe the Chamber or anyone will want to put up the money to try another tax increase.”

A statewide poll conducted last week by Lansing polling firm EPIC-MRA reflected similar divisions among the public as to what should be done. While 67 percent rated state roads as “poor,” 35 percent said that fees or taxes would have to be increased to fix them, while 37 percent said funding for roads could be raised by cutting services or programs elsewhere.

It also found that 64 percent would favor a 1-cent increase in the sales tax if it guaranteed that all funds would go to roads and bridges. Sixty-six percent opposed raising the fuel tax to pay for roads.

Interestingly, according to Bernie Porn of EPIC-MRA, it is the first time that support for a sales tax hike to pay for roads polled above 60 percent.

The plan

Proposal 1 was projected to raise about $1.2 billion in added revenue for state and local road agencies. It was also calculated to raise about $600 million a year for schools, cities, mass transit and the state general fund.

It would have hiked the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, while exempting fuel from the tax. Its passage also would have set in motion other measures to raise wholesale fuel taxes, raise registration fees for cars and trucks and restore tax credits for low-income workers.

Backers of the unwieldy measure, cobbled together in the waning hours of December's lame duck legislative session, insisted it was still the best chance to fix a road system growing worse by the year. Even so, critics on both sides of the proposal heaped scorn on legislators for passing the funding decision to residents rather than reach a deal last December.

State trunklines – all interstates and highways in Michigan – are still in OK shape. The Michigan Department of Transportation calculated that 85 percent were in good or fair condition in 2014. But that's down from 92 percent in 2008.

The deterioration is more obvious when local roads are factored in. According to the state Transportation Management Council, 38 percent of roads eligible for federal aid – which includes trunklines, primary county roads and major city streets – were in poor condition in 2014. That's more than triple the percentage in 2003, when 11 percent were rated poor.

MDOT Director Kirk Steudle said the state's trunkline system has seen an additional 1 percent or 2 percent slide into poor condition in recent years. He estimates that could rise to 6 percent or higher annually without added funds.

Michigan at bottom

According to a national survey by the Associated Press, Michigan ranked 49th of 50 states in 2013 for per capita funding for roads.

That’s tied to the fact that Michigan has relied on a flat fuel tax since 1997. According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, the 19-cent per-gallon gas tax imposed that year is now worth the equivalent of 13.5 cents because of inflation, while the amount of fuel consumed had dropped because cars are more fuel-efficient. Road construction costs have only gone up in that time.

A national study by TRIP, a Washington-D.C.-based research group, found the state's bad roads cost motorists more than $300 a year in added repair and tire wear costs, stating the roads cost a Detroit motorist $536 in extra costs and a Grand Rapids motorist $327 a year. It also found that 27 percent of state and local bridges were rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete in 2012.

Some conservative GOP elements of the state House are rallying around an earlier plan to dedicate $1.2 billion more to roads, without raising taxes. Under legislation introduced by state Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, the current 6-cent sales tax on fuel would be phased out and replaced by a comparable increase in fuel tax. Critics say the measure would drain funds from schools and cities, since most of the fuel sales tax is earmarked for the School Aid Fund and municipal revenue sharing.

It is similar to the so-called “Bolger plan” championed by former GOP House Speaker Jase Bolger. That was narrowly approved in December 2014 by the House, but never voted on in the Senate. Snyder stated at the time he had “serious reservations” about the plan, though he did not say he would veto it.

That plan assumes continued economic growth in the state would make up for the loss of funding for schools and cities. Mitch Bean, former head of the House Fiscal Agency, said at the time it would result in an $800 million annual loss to the School Aid Fund by 2020.

Lansing fiddles as roads burn

State Sen. Pat Colbeck, R-Canton, a Tea Party favorite, has suggested a series of options, including the Bolger plan, a freeze on general fund spending and saving money on road costs by privatizing some Michigan Department of Transportation services and finding a way to lower road construction material costs.

“Our focus should be on protecting working families and make sure they’re not bearing the brunt of any new revenue stream. It’s time to create a transportation system and funding mechanism that is sustainable long term – no more gimmicks.” – Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint

And there's yet one more idea: Tea Party Republican state Rep. Peter Lucido of Macomb County wants to use the Michigan Catastrophic Claims fund – it has an $18 billion surplus – to pay for roads. The fund is used to pay the medical costs of critically injured victims of automobile accidents.

Greimel foresees renewed Democratic opposition to anything resembling the Bolger plan, saying it “would fund roads by raising $800 million from local schools and $150 million from cities and townships.”

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, likewise rejected anything that smacked of the Bolger plan. “None of those plans appear to be based in reality,” he said in a statement. “Frankly, if Bolger’s plan was any good, I think he would have passed it. Short-changing our schools and local police and fire is not good policy.”

“Our focus should be on protecting working families and make sure they’re not bearing the brunt of any new revenue stream. It’s time to create a transportation system and funding mechanism that is sustainable long term – no more gimmicks.”

Like lawmakers, key interest groups appear splintered over the best way forward.

While the Michigan Chamber of Commerce remained neutral on Proposal 1, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce backed it.

The Small Business Association of Michigan supported it. But the National Federation of Independent Business opposed it.

Meekhof, the Senate Majority Leader, said after Tuesday’s vote that the prospect of higher taxes may or may not have doomed Proposal 1. But he also suggested that Tuesday’s outcome may have been less about taxes than about voters infuriated at legislative inaction in Lansing.

The people of Michigan were sending a message, he said, “that they expect the legislature to solve this problem.”

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Wed, 05/06/2015 - 8:50am
"Tuesday’s Proposal 1 loss wasn’t for lack of money." They could have spent 10 times the amount they did and this proposal was still going to fail. One piece of junk mail I got was like a personal letter but really mass produced about some person weeping about being injured in an accident because of the roads. Pitiful, manipulative and it didn't work.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:47am
Just out of curiosity..... how much would be saved yearly if the Michigan legislature became part time? Has that ever been factored when debating about cutting funding? Perhaps cutting pay of legislators and their immediate staff by 1/12 or 1/10?
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:43am
I already see this being spun in Mlive as a message from the electorate that there be no tax increase. That is not completely correct in my opinion. I don't think anyone will argue that Michigan's roads are an embarrassment. I voted against this proposal not because I am against a tax increase but because I don't think it should be on the backs of those who can least afford it. There didn't seem to be a problem coming up with a half billion $ to build a new Red Wings stadium. I feel the additional needed revenue should come from the filthy rich like the Meijer brothers or the pyramid scheming DeVoss family, not my 82 year old mother who lives on her meager social security and doesn't drive.
Norman Hawker
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 12:29pm
I think you nailed JT. Even in an area as conservative as Kalamazoo County, we voted down Proposal 1and passed a millage proposal for our schools.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:44am
Maybe they should take it in steps. 1.) The voters of Michigan Voted for the lottery to aid schools, the legislature decided they new better and moved the proceeds to the general fund. Quit the shell game, dedicate that money as it was meant to be used and then figure the harm to the schools the removal of the sales tax on gas will cause.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:45am
* Knew better
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:48am
The roads will only be upgraded when we get public officials and bureaucrats with intellect and integrity. In fact every aspect of government would improve. What do you expect from the current collection of lunatics and thieves?
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:10am
It does appear that most of the legislators commenting on the vote missed the message and have no idea of how to proceed.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 6:40pm
Intellect and integrity go hand in hand with imagination and illusion. I doth think us to be doomed.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:48am
The solution is simple without all the drama -- increase the fuel tax. That way those who use the roads, pay for the privilege. With gasoline prices low, now would be the best time to increase the fuel tax.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 1:10pm
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 1:54pm
Great idea which could have been implemented ages ago, with road repair/rebuild well under way. However, when you have a Gerrymandered, Tea Party worshiping legislature that believes that ANY government spending/tax (unless it's a weapons program) is a cardinal sin, nothing good is going to happen.
Disgruntled Taxpayer
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:51am
The taxpayers of Michigan just gave a collective middle finger to 149 people in Lansing. How many are paying attention? This article cites Michigan being 49th per capita in road funding in 2013. I've seen others stating 50th. Yet Michigan families rank 24th highest in state income tax and Michigan's 6% sales tax is 16th highest. The money is already there, our legislators have simply failed time and again to make Michigan's roadways a priority in the state budget. And our legislators are the 4th highest compensated in the nation. There should be 149 people in Lansing ashamed and embarrassed for not doing their job. Too bad Michigan couldn't flip the statistics and be 4th in the nation in per capita spending on roads and last in the nation in spending on legislators. They should have used the $8.7M to $10M wasted on the Proposal 1 campaign to buy a clue.
Edson Schaus
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 2:54pm
You say the money is there, but where is it really? What are the specific areas of spending that you'd like to see reduced to spend on roads?
John S Porter
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 11:42pm
My question exactly. Will those that opposed the proposal work together to find a solution? Success has a lot of fathers, but failure is an orphan. We have turned it around in our politics. Now failure is sired by everyone and nobody offers a successful alternative.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:51am
In another forum there are some comments that the legislature needs to work through the summer to get something figured out, I'm not sure this is a good idea, the last thing any of them want is to be stuck in Lansing during that time when they would rather be somewhere else, this could lead to rushed and poorly thought out legislation just to be done with it. There needs to be some intelligent (yes I know that is funny when talking about the Michigan legislature) reflection on what just happened and legislation that will get the job done right (I'm not hopeful however).
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:14pm
*** You commented "this could lead to rushed and poorly thought out legislation just to be done with it." Isn't that the way we have had most of our legislation passed over the last 5 years? Why should this issue fare any differently?
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:52am
The MCCA has an "$18 billion dollar surplus"? It has $18 billion in ASSETS, but don't you think it might have just a few liabilities, such as claims for medical care over the next 50 years? In fact, it has more anticipated than that, so it has a DEFICIT. Perhaps you meant to quote the woefully uniformed state representative, but you simply stated it as a fact.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 2:04pm
Don't dispute your $$ figure, but do question if ANY one knows how much money they really have. If you looked back to the "glorious" Engler reign, you will find that he gave EVERY driver a refund from the fund, because it had TOO much money. Don't know if it had too much money because he was running for reelection or not. Probably just a coincidence...........
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 3:34pm
Even though the Engler administration was far superior to the present, even it could not resist occasional political forays. He was told by knowledgeable people, such as me, that the MCCA did not have "too much money," but he went ahead and pressured the MCCA board to make the refund. The result? In just a couple of years, it needed to increase assessments to cover a deficit - one created by the refund!. Don''t mess with this stuff unless you were there and understood it!
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:54am
Most working class people have had to take massive pay cuts, pay more for insurance premiums, contribute more to their retirement plans, and work longer hours. I think it is high time our government officials do likewise as it would save our state millions of dollars that could go towards road repair. In addition, I do not trust our state government. The lottery is a prime example. Our state officials need to put that money back where it was suppose to go - our schools. Oh the shame.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:06am
Yes, it's so hard for young people to get a start in life. My son works full-time in a retail store (not entry-level) and can't pay his bills. It's very sad and frustrating for him and others like him!
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:55am
This is less a mandate for low taxes than it is a message that voters won't stand for complicated measures that cover a multitude of issues. Wake up Lansing.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:03am
Yes--this is exactly right. Why don't we try this? "It also found that 64 percent would favor a 1-cent increase in the sales tax if it guaranteed that all funds would go to roads and bridges."
Bill Hayes
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 11:05am
I think you're absolutely right. It isn't a rejection of raising taxes, it's a rejection of the shoddy job the legislature did, trying to solve too many problems with one bill. Get busy on one problem at a time, and don't try to make us do your job for you!
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:56am
Simple financial solutions: 1) Release all those charged with nonviolent drug charges. 2) Bring back "Hemp For Victory" programs supporting cannabis and hemp industries. PureMichiganCannabis & PureMichiganHemp products could create enough revenue to build world class super highways. Relentless positive action in the agricultural state of Michigan.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:03am
The condition of Micigan roads is one symptom of the overall condition of the state; an overwhelming decline of the quality of life. Employers of The New Economy are choosing states that understand investment in infrastructure and quality of life. Fresh grads are taking their degrees from Michigan schools and running. Don't think for a second that the roads don't have anything to do with Michigan's growing national reputation as a third rate economy, a leader in the race to the bottom.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:11am
The vote had little to do with roads, schools, and local budgets, event bonds, it was a vote on trust. From the Governor, to the Legislature, to the government agencies (MDOT and all others), to local government (cities, counties, schools) there is a loss of trust by the voters. Why don't they get that? We want the the government to reflect our world not the decades old practices of government. We want the government to create a means/methods of accountablility for their actions and for the spending of our money. Voters are accountable for our actions and spending, why not the government?
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:13am
Most of you seem to be forgetting something. When the gasoline prices dipped down to 85 cents a gallon in the mid 1980's Michigan increase the gasoline tax to "fix the roads" and they didn't get fixed then, either. We need to stop using asphalt to pave roads and start using quality concrete. In Germany, same climate, road builders must post a 40 year bond for the roads they construct. We need to limit weights on "gut buster trucks" and outlaw raising axles. We need to open the weight scales and keep them open. As someone pointed out, Lottery money was supposed to go entirely to education, well it disappeared into the "black hole" called the general budget. Everyone in the state, with a few exceptions, has had to tighten their belts. State government is no exception. State pensions need to be adjusted for reality, not dreamland!
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 5:16pm
Michael, I like your 40 year idea! Here is my Plan B: "Michigan shall improve roads and bridges." 1. "Gas and Fuel taxes shall be used for roads and bridges only." 2. "The Gas Tax shall be 17 cents." 3. "The Fuel Tax shall be 19 cents." 4. "There shall be no Sales or Use taxes on gas or fuel. 5. "Truck and Vehicle Registration fees shall not change." 6. "MDOT debt service on the bond shall go to the General Fund." 7. "Competitive bidding, warranties [40 year life], and liquidated damages shall be expanded." 8. "Wages and work weeks on roads and bridges shall be competitive." The current Budget for MDOT is $3.3 Billion. This Plan B is directed to solve a need (or problem if you wish) our state government seems unable to solve. Please feel free to rate my Plan B. Let me know if you would vote for such a Proposal. Let me know your suggestions. Leon
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:23pm
I vote NO for your Plan B. It is a knee jerk plan already passed by our State House before Prop 1 was concocted. It guts schools and local governments. Think this through!
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 11:16pm
Barry May 6, 2015 at 9:23 pm Hi Barry, I guess you are not very focused on roads and bridges, and this one issue is the lowest priority for you, and you are not interested in solving just this one thing all by itself. Do you agree, if the roads and bridges problem only were solved, that would be a good thing? Do you deny that if this, my Plan B, were on the ballot today, it would likely pass 80 to 20? I invite you to think just this one issue through. Can it be solved by itself, with no increase in taxes? I say, "Yes!" Now to your other concerns, where did I gut anything? I left them all as the status quo. Did I not? Just one or two of the past two years of the Gas Tax, that many voters felt should have been going to roads, would have paid off MDOT bonds. The heart of Proposal 1 was just this. The Gas Tax should be for roads and bridges only. I proposed no increase in funding for them because that is the exact reason for the vote of "no confidence" we saw yesterday. Yesterday was the people having their say, as opposed to the give and take of legislatures. If the issue is "trust" instead of "give and take" then your concerns are in the opposite direction of "trust." I think voters want, what I want, a simple "fix" for the roads and bridges with fewer "poison pills" to swallow. If the issue is legislative "grid lock" then your concerns are at the very center of the "grid lock." Your very concerns are what locks up a simple fix for roads. I suggest you think this through first from the viewpoint of solving roads and bridges. Then, given that, how do get what you want?
Matt M
Thu, 05/07/2015 - 10:03am
Line 4 you indicate no sales Tax on Fuel, that is the point where you are taking money from schools. It may work if 1st, the legislature put the lottery proceeds back into education where it is suppose to be in the 1st place
Ken in Zeeland
Sun, 05/10/2015 - 4:00pm
You can't have Legislative Grid Lock in Michigan since the Republicans have controlled the State House, The State Senate, and the State Supreme Court for nearly two decades and the Governor's' office for all by 8 of those 20 years. The problem is that 3/4s of the voters just showed that their masters, the wealthiest 1% and big business, don't have the real power at the polls. They tried to buy this election as they have bought elections in Michigan for the last 20 years, but it backfired on them this time!
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:24am
"the vote as a public mandate for low taxes and a “simple solution” for fixing Michigan roads" - Michigan voters want everything but are willing to pay nothing for it. They are enabled by cowardly politicians who only talk about lowering taxes, but never the effects. Our elected leaders are cowards of the highest order in that they will not make decisions....period. They try to pass the responsibility on to the voters, in order to get re-elected. The no-tax crowd is willing send our state down the drain in order to meet the litmus test of their philosophy.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:27am
These comments should be required reading - with a comprehensive exam to follow, by the Governor and all of the legislators.
chad miller
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 1:00pm
Amen. I'm thinking about copy and paste these list of comments and sending it to my state rep and senator.
Thomas Johnson
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:33am
To fix our road, the state legislature has to figure out a way to prioritize our needs and wants, then figure out whether increasing taxes or decreasing expenditures or both is the best way to raise money.
Thomas Ford
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:34am
The only real option for our irresponsible Republican legislature is to raise taxes on corporations to cover the cost of reinstating the Earned Income Tax Credit that was cut tax from 20% to 6%, raise the cost trucking companies pay to operate in our state (one of the primary reasons our roads are in such bad shape) and raising the amount we pay for the education of our children. The perverted belief that corporations give a damn about our state and its people must be recognized for exactly what it is, perverted Over 30 years ago I remember hearing the CEO of a multinational oil company on 60 minutes state that if it came down to doing what's best for his company or what's best for our country, which one would he choose and he said he would have to go with the company.Since that time corporate power has grown exponentially to the point where the Supreme Court has given corporations the power and protection of personhood.
L. Stephens
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:35am
The excuse for the complex nature of the proposal was that the uses for the sales tax is fixed by the constitution, and all this other stuff had to be added to route the money to the roads. As I understand, the sales tax would not go directly to the roads, but would make up for the fact that sales tax on gas would be eliminated, and other taxes added at the pump to make up for that loss of revenue in sales tax and the things it funds. So, here is the question. We vote on constitution changes, and we were voting anyway. So, why not just propose a constitutional amendment to restrict the use of the added 1% sales tax to fund the road repairs. Very straight forward. I suspect that voters smelled too much pork on the ballot, and no body could evaluate how the numerous changes would affect our costs; and no matter how many explanations were proveded, no one trusts the adds, because there are too many lies in adds these days. It is impossible for the public to know who is telling the truth. Voters are crying for honesty among politicians.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:41am
Let's face it, sometimes when there is a clearly demonstrated need, taxes need to be raised, in spite of what the conservatives in our legislature might believe. Those who use the roads should pay for their maintenance and repair. I am willing to pay more for my vehicle registration and more at the pump to insure that the roads I drive on are kept in good repair. I do not want to rob Peter to pay Paul in order to get the job done as some of our so-called representatives would like to do. I don't want the money to be taken from local schools or local governments. I want a new tax that is specific to the purpose for which it will be used, and is collected from those who will benefit. Why is that so difficult to understand. Perhaps they have never heard of the KISS method of problem solving (keep it simple stupid). I also voted no on this proposal because I want our elected representatives to do their jobs to solve this problem even if it means compromising their principles to get it done. If they are incapable of doing that, then they shouldn't be in office. I am also beginning to think we would be better off with a part time legislature. After all, how much time do they really need to accomplish nothing?
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:41am
Perhaps if the legislature became part-time, as is the case in most states, and did away with the ridiculously short term limits, we may get an affordable and professional governing body. Also, a progressive income tax is way over do in Michigan.
John Sullivan
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:45am
Agreed, time for the legislature to do the job they were elected to do.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:49am
Why is it impossible for the legislature to keep things simple? I voted no to proposal 1 because the majority of the money raised was not going to roads and bridges. If indeed we need to raise taxes to repair our failing infrastructure it should be a dedicated tax, that may not under any circumstances be used elsewhere. As a fairly new resident to Michigan (6 yrs.) the more I try to understand Lansing the less I know. Our elected officials need to hear what this vote is saying, come up with a sustainable plan, with long range goals and keep at it.
L Stephens
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:55am
One more thing. Enough about big business getting rich, while us common folk suffer. Where do you think our jobs come from? Big and small businesses. But, any business is just a middle man between costs and imcome. Costs are labor, materials and taxes. Income are sales and services. If you want to stay in business, you must make the profit you desire, and be able to market your products and services to accomplish that. Simple economics 101. If a business cannot make a profit they need or desire, they go out of business or move to where they can make it work. It is really that simple. As a third party consumer, we really, really have no control over what profit a business needs or wants, except to stop consuming their products or services. More taxes on businesses means higher prices for us, or cost cutting (layoffs). Look about you, and observe the reminents of that effect on Michigans economy this past 10 years.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:57am
I hope that legislators will consider raising funds for roads, bridges, communities, and schools by adding sales tax laws that collect 6% from any service industry or occupational service that currently is not taxed. Examples include venues that host sports, ticket sales, concerts, shows, golf courses, hair services, tax services, etc. That would provide a big chunk of change to help fix the roads. Untapped tax base.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 11:13am
Well, Let's see what happens now. Just saying no to everything doesn't get anything accomplished and makes things worse. And listening to various radio shows this morning..there is no plan B, and the legislature may not even look into this until summer session (yes things are too busy now..once again where are your priorities?) I have little confidence that anything gets done..if it does, it will again hit working class folks education and the typical scapegoats who have been targeted by this legislature and Governor.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 12:32pm
JR, There are many plans, B, C, D. etc. what needs to happen is that Governor and Legislature, MDOT, and local governments choose from the many and take action. Plan B; no change, continue doing as before and continue to get the same results. Plan C; investigate how we can get better value for our money (better roads for longer), verify what is actually contributing to the problems, is it heavy loads (that never go on secondary streets that also need repair), is it construction methods (how many repairs are happening at the seams and non-traffic portions), is it installation (how the contractors build the roads), is it climate (why aren't others seeing the same issues), is it how we maintain the roads (are we simply doing the same thing every year with to the same spots which need the same repair the next year, is there new technology we could use), is there better ways to manage the roads, etc. Plan D; setup listening sessions with voters asking why they voted No and listen to what they say, then address their concerns Plan E; break with 'conventional wisdom' to decide on why we have the roads and collaborate with State universities and appropriate businesses to develop new/innovative ways to provide safety and reliable roads to achieve that purpose Plan F and beyond; the Plan options are endless and anyone who said there was no Plan B was in denial or incapable to thinking through this problem or any problem. Whether it is MDOT, the Governor, the Legislature, the local governments, the contractors they all have failed to face reality and want to stay in their comfort zone of under delivering to the voters.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 11:30am
Maybe the road commission should focus more on resurfacing roads and less on buildind costly roundabouts that nobody wants!
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 12:49pm
Rather than now just brain deadedly raising taxes, first look at the prison situation, and the piles of money spent on them. Do we really need to keep everyone there there? With much needed reform we'd free up a ton of funds and probably not see any real change in public safety.! Second, we (sales) tax less than half of all transactions in Michigan and pound the few that we do tax, How about taxing every purchase (yes food, medicine too.) lower the rate significantly (3%?) and let all the taxes charged on gas to go to roads where it should go (not public buses and bike trails)!
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 1:38pm
After this huge vote of no confidence, the governor and legislators would resign if they had any self-respect. You can count on their misreading of this defeat to continue to suit their own agendas. To me it's an issue of state government having the wrong priorities. When they put a massive tax cut for businesses ahead of roads, schools, the poor and the working class and made retirees (through the pension tax) and those who care about the homeless and public institutions (through the loss of those tax credits) pay for it, they told me that they don't care about anyone who isn't a wealthy campaign contributor. I decided then that I would never support a tax increase until they got their priorities in order and undid their earlier actions. As for a one cent increase in the sales tax simply for roads as so many have suggested, I will vote NO on that as well. I have already taken a large Republican tax hit and I won't vote for another.
Chad Miller
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 1:44pm
Searching for Plan B... not true. There's been a plan B in place for months and it's been put right in our face. It starts with repealing Michigan's no fault law (which works great by the way and has been on the books for 43 years since 1971). If no-fault were repealed, there would be no need for the $18billion surplus in the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Fund and no need for the legislature to do an unpopular thing like raise our taxes. Similar to the playbook from the 80's when Reagan borrowed at the time a $3 trillion surplus from the social security fund and look where that got us... No more robbing Peter to pay Paul. I will gladly pay more taxes to get the ALL the roads fixed. Message to the legislature: If the taxpayers were good enough to raise their own taxes, we are good enough to also lower our own taxes. You must take the good with the bad. If the legislature wants the glory of the tax cut record, you must also take the dirty work and raise our taxes when needed. Don't repeal the no-fault law so you can simply avoid the unpopular deed of raising taxes to fix ALL of Michigan's roads.
John S.;
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 1:57pm
Let's see. Michigan's gas tax is $.19/gallon, tied for 9th lowest in the country. It's diesel tax is $.15/gallon, 3rd lowest in the country. Michigan has the heaviest weight limits in the country with the engineers telling all with great confidence that it's the weight per axle that matters, not the overall weight. It that really true,or is it based upon modeling will all sorts of assumptions? It's trucks that are responsible nearly all of the traffic related road damage in Michigan. The quickest and perhaps fairest solution is simply to move the fuel taxes in Michigan to the national weighted averages. That would mean a $.125/gallon increase in the gas tax and a $.16/gallon increase in the diesel tax. State legislators have already fumbled the ball on this issue. After all else fails, they sometimes get around to doing their job. I'm confident there will be no citizen rebellion in the state from these increases in fuel taxes. State legislators have already done a capable job of gerrymandering to insure that there are not more than a handful of competitive districts in the state. It's not the whole solution, but it's a start. The sales tax stays as is.
John S.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 2:28pm
For a start, the legislature can just move the fuel taxes to their national weighted averages--that would mean a $.125/gallon increase in the state gasoline tax (going from $.19/gallon to $31.5/gallon and a $.16/gallon increase in the state diesel tax (going from $.15/gallon to $.31/gallon. Currently, Michigan's $.19/gallon gasoline tax is the 9th lowest in the country (tied) and its diesel tax at $.15/gallon is the 3rd lowest. To be sure, nobody likes a tax increase; however, this is a user fee paid for by those who purchase fuel and drive on Michigan's roads.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 4:17pm
Tell "them" not to bother looking for plan B as "they" have told us for months that there is no plan B!
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 5:41pm
My question was and is this. Did they honestly believe for a minute that the proposal had even a chance to pass. If they did they are dumber than I thought. It had 0 chance of passing. . I am a little surprised it only went down 4 to 1. Quit bundling everything together. Now get back to work and do your job. Peace R.L.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 6:32pm
I think they were dumber than you thought, dumber than I thought, and they could start in a movie sequel called "Dumber than a box of rocks".
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 6:30pm
The 17% sales tax increase was never needed. It raised $600 million for schools and local government. Lansing already raised $500 million with its internet tax. The escalating license fees were also a big objection. As your car depreciated you pay more? Take 1.5 billion out of the catastrophic casualty fund and pay off the old road debt from 1997. Those solutions cover every thing except the roads, and with the debt gone the 14.9% gas tax raises enough money to fix the roads - now. But only if the cotton pickin legislators and mad hatters keep their paws off it.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 8:19pm
I watched an interesting round table discussion on channel 2 Detroit News concerning the roads issue. A Legislature Rep stated we have an over abundance of money in our Catastrophic Fund that everyone pays when they own a car. It costs each person I believe either $160.00 or $180.00/vehicle each year. Thund has billions of dollar in it just sitting there growing. Plus, it gets replentished constantly when you pay car insurance. So, the money cannot possibly run out. Why not use that money to repair the roads ONLY. There is way more than is needed to repair the roads and the fund is not going to dry up for those that are injured in a car accident and need life time care. Think about it. We are using our own money.....No Tax increase involved.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 8:52pm
The money in the Catastrophic Fund belongs to the insurance companies to pay for those injured in car accidents whose injuries are so severe they use up the regular insurance coverage. The legislature is contemplating a change to the Now Fault Insurance law that will save you $64.00 per year for two years and stop helping those disabled individuals. Any excess monies will accrue to the insurance companies and your rates will increase again.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 8:27pm
On Prop.1, If law makers would have been smart, they could I think have gotten Prop.1 passed on just raising the sales tax one percent like it was suppose to be.Instead they try to pull a fast one on the people of Michigan with the added 10 bills or so. Just say 1 percent for roads and they would have their repair monies. Now look at where I'm from we have a township road millage, a county wide millage why would we want to vote for another increase? Because if 1% was used for road and bridge repair we would have voted for that. Snider better wake up, people of Michigan are tried of their back door bills.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 8:45pm
Our local paper had a survey today on whether the people were willing to pay higher taxes to fund infrastructure enhancement. The vote was 68% in FAVOR of increased taxes. These are the same individuals who voted yesterday by a 5-1 or better majority AGAINST Prop 1. So the vote was not against taxes, the vote was distrust of our legislature. I believe this is a direct result of forty years of GOP Hulk grunting, "Government always bad. Taxes always Bad. Regulation Bad. No trust elected officials." The voter backlash the Republicans have been fomenting since before RR has finally coalesced into a complete distrust of government at all levels. They just didn't figure they would be in charge when it happened. The joke's on them and good riddance. I can't wait to see how Michigan's legislature will mange to screw things up now. Less money for schools, bankrupt local governments, no environmental protections, no social safety net, no worker programs. Michigan is rapidly becoming the First of the Worst.
Clifford S
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 8:46pm
To add another negative comment towards our " corrupted state politicians". They are the fault of the NO vote on May 5 th! They've shown since the 2010 census who they are representing - BIG money from out of state, ALEC ( American Legislative Economic Council via the Koch brothers) and their own greed to further their political ambitions. They have consistently put "appropriation money" to their suspect passed bills to stop state voters from repealing those bills via a voter referendum. They never explain that purpose! Integrity is lost as soon as they take their oath of office! We the voters must repeal TERM LIMITS as it's not working as intended and has become a revolving door for same old same old!
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:01pm
To Clifford S, You are correct. Term limits are a disaster. Do you realize that not one legislator in office today ever served with a different governor. And that no member of the State house will ever serve with anyone but Snyder. Any Senator elected the same year as Snyder in his first term will never carry any ideas into the next Governor's term. Term limits have caused a complete loss of institutional memory and carryover into another governor's term. I do not think they should serve forever but when they are choosing legislative leaders who have only served two years in the legislature, it is a recipe for the disaster we are living through. Thank you for being perceptive and Brave enough to speak of it.
John Q. Public
Fri, 05/08/2015 - 12:47am
'Do you realize that not one legislator in office today ever served with a different governor.' That's absolutely not true. 'And that no member of the State house will ever serve with anyone but Snyder.' That's possible, but unlikely.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 9:57pm
Rep Cottor, Glenn and others should lay aside their parroting of the tired old " voters gave a mandate of no taxes" as the reason the proposal went down so decisively. Look at the voters in Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids and other municipalities who voted in large pluralities to tax themselves for road repair and Kazoo co. Voted for their schools. We, in the middle, will support clear concise ideas that promote the common good and needs of our state I'm also very weary of politicians who campaign on improving roads, schools etc etc.Then when theyre in Lansing start pushing the social issues.Please do the tough stuff and leave the morals to my priest.
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:11pm
A crumbling infrastructure is the cost for not saving (from fund acquisition) and spending $$ to maintain it. This is true for hard goods as well as personnel. I am all in favor of raising taxes for roads, schools, etc. But I voted NO this week. Why? Because those in Lansing who have drunk the "no-new-taxes-on-my-watch" Kool-Aid have shirked their duty as our representatives. If the vote had passed, Those sly foxes could rightly say, "We never taxes- the People did!" They thumbed their noses at the electorate and passed them the dirty work. But non-Primary/General Voters are a different lot. They read, they analyze, they remember. And they weren't fooled. (Clever the way not one but three areas that need funding were bundled. Good try, guys.) The message is: "DO YOUR JOB. If you can't do the hard work, get out. If you're more interested in staying another term than solving hard problems, get out. (You've just demonstrated that one.) If you can't represent the voices of those your district (not just those of your party), get out. We're watching....
Thu, 05/07/2015 - 9:49am
One of the reasons I voted no was the framing as a constitutional amendment. Seems like the legislative process is a more appropriate way to address budgets and road repairs.
Sat, 05/09/2015 - 5:31am
I don't think this legislature has the chops to make the tough decisions that always pertain to taxation. They would rather cow-tow to corporate interests by attacking unions, teachers and poor people getting food assistance. They insisted on requiring every public school classroom to have an American flag on display, but balked at requiring every school to have a carbon monoxide detector because it was too financially onerous.
Tue, 05/12/2015 - 9:05pm
yes there is a solution to the potholes..Called recall the contracter and have him fill-in the Holes.