Kwame’s and Bobbie’s ‘Bridge of Bucks’ over Telegraph Road
Now that Michigan voters have mercilessly dispatched Proposal 1 to the garbage can of history, lets talk a bit about the philosophy of a truly effective plan to get Michigan’s roads and bridges up to par. This will provide a proper foundation for developing a ‘Plan B’ which will actually improve Michigan’s roads and bridges, and be acceptable to the population as well.
The underlying premise of Proposal 1 was that the only action required to fix up Michigan’s roads and bridges was injecting big money into the Michigan Transportation Fund. The depraved philosophy of modern American government. Not true and the voters knew it. But Michigan’s power elite believed that opposition could be neutralized by icing a pile of feces with chocolate frosting. Didn’t work despite a lavish $ 10 million effort.
The condition of Michigan’s roads and bridges has only a casual relationship with the funds available in the MTF. In 2014, 11% of MTF funds were siphoned off by various State of Michigan Departments in the form of charge backs for ‘services’ rendered to the MTF, as well as priority grants that have little to do with roads and bridges. Debt service is also a component of this 11%, but that is effectively a payment for previous time preferences of bureaucrats and politicians. Then 9.5% of the remainder was diverted to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund for mass transit. Finally, the MTF was partitioned amongst the State Trunkline Fund (36%), county road agencies (34.6%), and cities (19.8%). In each partition, further funds are siphoned off by charge backs, pension payments, and OPEBs. What’s left for the roads is more a function of politicians and bureaucrats preferences at every level than the amount of money front loaded into the MTF.
So how do we proceed? First develop a philosophy to frame and inform the ‘Plan B’ debate. After the fold.
Tomorrow morning the polls open for those who have yet to electorally weigh in on the largest tax increase that Michiganians have ever had the opportunity to give themselves.
We have chronicled the multiple failures of the package here in nearly 80 articles, specifically referencing the proposal itself and dozens of other articles leading up to it. Our efforts over the last five months have demonstrated that the overall issue in Michigan’s roads situation is one of complete dysfunction. In fact we’ve shown the proposal is hardly about roads alone, though that aspect is the only legitimate premise under which the proposal is being sold.
Aside from the convoluted language and constitutionally flawed (and with predictably BAD outcomes) package, it is a cacophony of noisy promises to Michigan’s recipients of taxpayer largess. Townships, schools, ‘the working poor’ and the road builders themselves all seem to have a dog in the fight if one was to buy into the governor’s hype.
It all comes at a cost, and it appears the taxpayers are wising up.
RightMi.Com editors weigh in on their favorite anti-prop 15-1 articles.
We’ve had plenty to say about proposal 15-1.
In fact, there was so much to be said that we had to create a special category for it, and all things leading up to, and related have been edited by Kevin to reflect their importance to the issue. While the traditional media sources play the equal opportunity game with both proponents and opponents of HR UU (proposal 15-1), it’s been our position to not do so. We have maintained that equal opportunity is already a function of those who would lie about its ‘advantages,’ and it needs no further promotion to make it one of the most dangerous options Michiganians have ever faced at the ballot box.
As we wrap up the arguments with only 2 days left before the polls close, RightMi.com editors thought it important to offer up a few ‘MUST READS!’ As you make a special trip to the polls for an election day that you wouldn’t have if the last legislative session would have done its job we have highlighted the most compelling. The editors have selected 5 or more articles from RightMi.com directly, and one other from anywhere else, traditional or otherwise.
Reflex Conditioning Drives Uncontrolled Government Spending
The brilliant, Nobel Prize winning physiologist Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov demonstrated that you could condition a dog to salivate by sounding a metronome. All he had to do was sound the metronome when putting out food for his dogs. It did not take long for his dogs to associate the sound of the metronome with food. Then he no longer even had to put food out to get the dogs to salivate; he only had to sound the metronome.
Today, inferior rank politicians have been conditioned to salivate when a financial grant is offered by superior rank politicians. The only problem with these grants of largess is that they always come with caveats, and usually require matching funds. These restrictions are a deliberate – and successful – effort to frustrate all efforts to manage government expenditures.
Mass Transit Skims $ 120 Million from Proposal 2015-01 Road Work Funds
Ever hear of the Michigan Comprehensive Transportation Fund? Ten cents of every Michigan fuel tax dollar gets diverted to this mass transportation slush fund. It is only just behind the sales tax as a diversion of your current fuel tax dollars from Michigan’s roads.
All motor vehicle fuel taxes collected in the State of Michigan are first deposited into the Michigan Transportation Fund. Then MCL 247.660 (1)(f) (Public Act 51 of 1951) dictates that 10% of the funds deposited in the Michigan Transportation Fund be immediately transferred to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund. The amended version of MCL 247.660 you are being offered in Proposal 2015-01 has the very same section (1)(f), making the same 10% immediate diversion.
So the $ 1.2 billion that Proposal 2015-01 supporters are promising you for road work is actually only $ 1.08 billion. Kirk T. Steudle, P.E. gets a whole new stash to maintain and expand his stable of rotting train cars, $ 120 million that cannot be spent on the roads by law. $ 120 million that gets skimmed from the $ 1.2 billion you are being promised for the roads. And no, it is not skimmed from the $ 800 million that Proposal 2015-01 dedicates to the Democratic base.
Now you now know how Michigan political math works in the age of Common Core. Pay $ 2 billion for roads, get $ 1 billion in road work.
Fix Planned to Correct Sales Tax Problem in Roads Plan
The administration of Governor Rick Snyder will seek legislation to correct a potential problem in the road funding plan that as written would lift the sales tax off of gasoline only for motor vehicles, but not for boats, snowmobiles and other non-road purposes like generators and gasoline-powered equipment.
As currently constructed, that would create a mess for retailers who theoretically would have to determine whether or not to charge the sales tax and even ask customers filling up a gasoline can what the intended use of the purchase is. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan, as part of a broad analysis it is conducting on the road funding plan, noted the quirk and provided the information to Gongwer News Service.
It will be interesting to see how Governor Snyder fixes this. Purchasing gasoline for your boat or ORV could become a really entertaining bureaucratic exercise. Ready for the ‘Gasoline Police’? Think of the new forms to be filled out.
CRCoM is a collection of the usual corporate interests orbiting Michigan government. Not certain why they would have ratted out this bungle to Gongwer, but it does suggest a certain degree of unease among the establishment.