On May 5, Michigan voters will have an opportunity to say “No!” to a 17 percent hike in the sales tax, a $95 million increase in license plate fees, a $130 million empty bus giveaway and a $26 million welfare handout. Also included in the mix is the imposition of a 14.9 percent wholesale tax on fuels, which will be borne by Michigan consumers. All these items of dubious merit, and more, are components of the proposed road funding package of bills passed by a lame-duck, lackluster legislature and endorsed by a governor who seems to have lost the “tough” descriptor and is now down to just nerd, perhaps less.
The entire package of bills is an attempt to take an estimated $1.9 billion (yes, that’s a “b” for billion) from the pockets of citizens, consumers and the general public, purportedly to fix Michigan roads. But it is not going for roads, at least not all of it. According to the non-partisan House Fiscal Agency, not even most of it. In its summary of the bill package, the House Fiscal Agency states that in fiscal year 2015-16, $800 million are dedicated to pay down debt (for previous road construction), with an additional $400 million going for that purpose in FY 2016-17. An additional $300 million would go to the School Aid Fund. I’m quite sure few Michiganders are opposed to schools, but when $300 million in school aid gets “committee-ed” into a road funding bill, perhaps it’s time the legislators get educated. Also, $130 million is estimated to go to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund for public transportation purposes, i.e. to buy more buses for more of us to not ride.
Look, I can see that we need to spend money on Michigan roads and I hear (somewhat cynically) the cries that our roads are in dire straits, but this concoction we are being asked to approve is not the way to “git ‘er done.” In a way, I don’t blame the legislators for passing the buck. They probably don’t want to be responsible for that clunker. Michigan citizens and the general public deserve better. Much better. Michigan voters, please say “Know”,” Then, on May 5, just say “no.”
Howard Bouwens Jr.