MICHIGAN TRUTH SQUAD ANALYSIS: "So why"
Who: People Should Decide, pro-Proposal 6 ballot committee
Truth Squad call: Flagrant foul
As reported previously at Truth Squad, "The People Should Decide is a ballot question committee funded, according to available campaign finance statements, almost entirely from interests linked to Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun and his family. Proposal 6 is a constitutional amendment to require a public vote before the state of Michigan could participate in an international bridge or tunnel project. The proposal is aimed at the Next International Trade Crossing, a bridge between Detroit and Windsor that will compete with Moroun’s Ambassador for freight and passenger traffic.
An analysis of Proposal 6 by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan states, "Under the bi-national Crossing Agreement negotiated between Governor Snyder and the Canadian government, Michigan state government has no direct responsibility for the construction or financing of the proposed bridge or related projects."
Questionable statement: "With the $3.5 billion being spent on the proposed bridge, Michigan could pay the yearly salaries of 1,700 teachers."
The agreement between Michigan and Canada to build the second Detroit-Windsor bridge includes provisions that Canada will cover Michigan’s share of costs – pegged at $550 million. The agreement also says that if revenues do not cover bonding costs, Canada, not much, will make up the difference.
In other words, the state of Michigan is not spending $3.5 billion on the bridge, so it does not have $3.5 billion to "pay the yearly salaries of 1,700 teachers."
The claim is utterly spurious, designed to make concerned parents believe school funds are being cut to advance the bridge. Not true.
Questionable statement: State politicians voted to cut $1 billion from local schools while giving a $1.8 billion tax break to rich CEOs and corporate special interests. Meanwhile, dozens of school districts are facing budget cuts greater than $1,000 per student. (Citation is for www.mea.org/education-cuts.)
This language is practically identical to that seen in Democratic Party ads aimed against Republican incumbents in the Michigan House. The claim on taxes refers to House Bill 4361, which taxes pensions and institutes a new corporate income tax, replacing the Michigan Business Tax.
The claim on school cuts refers to House Bill 4325, the 2011-12 school aid appropriation budget, which reduced expenditures by about $930 million from the previous year.
The MEA page mentioned does not detail the "dozens of school districts" facing $1,000 per student cuts, however that figure was used during the debate over the 2011-12 School Aid Fund budget.
Questionable statement: In Detroit, authorities are so overwhelmed by financial troubles and budget cuts that they were debating a proposal to decrease the deficit by increasing high school class sizes to 60 students per classroom. (Citation to New York Times.)
The Times did report that consideration.
Overall impression: The mailer is designed to instill fear in parents that the bridge somehow is harming public education, regardless of the facts on the ground. This throw things up and hope something sticks approach has characterized the pro-Prop 6 campaign from the beginning.
Foul or no foul: Flagrant foul. Michigan is not spending $3.5 billion on the bridge. Money troubles for Michigan public schools are real -- any connection to the bridge project is not.
The Center for Michigan (the parent company of Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Truth Squad) has been financially supported by a wide range of corporate and foundation supporters. We are grateful to all funders for helping us create and grow a new nonprofit journalism service for Michigan citizens. Those funders have absolutely no role in the editorial decisions of the Michigan Truth Squad or Bridge Magazine.