Spending Money Is Not Leadership
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.