Back on Thursday 23 April 2015, a friend on Facebook asked her readers what they thought about Prop 1 -- she honestly wanted to know. And I wrote first comment:
Haven't decided. While we need a lot of infrastructure repairs and I applaud Gov. Snyder's efforts to promote Proposal 1, I need to dig further because some reports talk about other things. Also, I think the sales tax increase is (1) regressive and (2) division and multiplication by seven is not simple. Right now it sounds like it will go down to defeat by a wide margin. Dr. PhilThat sounds about right.
The Detroit Free Press article linked above mentions an:
EPIC-MRA... poll, conducted April 25-28 for the Free Press and WXYZ-TV (Channel 7). According to the newly released results, 64% of respondents said they would support a one percentage point increase in the sales tax if they knew all the extra revenue raised would go to roads, bridges and transportation.Here's the deal: Michigan has some of the worst roads in the country. It's not that hasn't been any new construction (M-6 in West Michigan) or repairs done in the last 15-20 years, it's that the legislature simply hasn't had the will to spend the funds anywhere close to maintaining a status quo, let alone improving things. Everyone talks about jobs and business, but if the roads suck, who will invest in Michigan's future?
It's the same poll in which 61% of the 600 likely voters surveyed said they planned to vote no on Proposal 1. The poll, which included 20% cell phone users, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
There have been some successful projects. I remember the first time I was on the M-10 freeway in Detroit, it was completely bombed out. It was closed and stripped down completely and rebuilt. It's now a smooth modern 70 mph city freeway. But you can't then not keep these things up.
Michigan has gone through a whole series of anti-tax measures. Gotta cut the Michigan income tax. Gotta restrict local property taxes. Gotta cut the schools. (The legislature is currently crowing about increasing the schools budget by 2%, but doesn't want to point out that they are raiding the schools budget to pay for higher education, which they have been defunding for twenty years.) The worst, of course, was the unwillingness to touch the fixed state gasoline tax. It hasn't changed in forever AND all that work developing vast improvements in fuel economy while the prices have hopped around had come home to roost.
A 50¢/gallon fuel tax was voted down.
To his credit, Governor Rick Snyder (R) has made infrastructure a priority. He's tried a whole slew of attempts. Prop 1 was the latest deal which could actually pass the legislature with a two-thirds majority. Why was it a ballot proposal? Because it involved changing the state sales tax from 6% to 7%, eliminating the sales tax on gasoline and moving revenues around. Why was it defeated? Well, in part because the voters didn't trust it. I don't think they understood why a road repair funding proposal had anything to do with school funding. (It had to do with how they messed up school funding years ago.) And 7 really is a terrible number to do math with -- 7% sales tax, 1.07 multiplier, dividing $1.00 by 7 to figure out the sales tax brackets.
I commend Gov. Snyder for two things. (1) After indicating that the state needed about a billion dollars a year for ten years to try to get a handle on the highway crisis, he vetoed a Republican plan to fund about half a billion dollars a year through cutting all sorts of other programs. The legislature had acted like that bill would be sufficient and they could wash their hands of dealing with taxes. Snyder is a numbers man and he knew the numbers didn't add up. (2) Once the Prop 1 bill was passed, he went on a statewide tour talking to everyone who would listen about road repairs. He carried a metal bucket with him, filled with chunks of concrete that had fallen from bridges and overpasses onto the roads, and gave them out as party favors to make his point. He'd hold up a big chunk and ask what if that came through your windshield? Or you drove over it and broke your car?
Gov. Snyder is not my favorite governor by a long shot, but he tried, man. He tried.
Tuesday 5 May 2015
So with the polling against it, we come to Election Day. One with a single solitary item on most ballots across the state. A rainy, overcast day. I haven't seen final numbers, but the turnout was expected to be under 20%.
Mrs. Dr. Phil voted on her way to work. I think she had ballot 22 or 28. I went out after 3pm. The parking lot, usually filled on election days, was mostly empty. Precinct 3 of 5 is small, so I used my two canes and didn't even bother with a walker. I had ballot 248 and machine record 221.
I hadn't decided how I'd vote until I got there. I wish the legislature would do its job, not be so scared shitless about realizing that tax money needs to come from somewhere and had just made a case for a clean bill that would fix the roads. On the other hand, I had no confidence that the legislature would be able to agree on anything else -- until they heard it from their constituents.
In the end, I filled in the bubble for YES.
Not that it mattered.
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