Someone needs to impress upon the MRP legislative and executive leadership that “NO” means “NO” . . . period.
Roughly nine months ago, We the People of Michigan, by a record-breaking 4-to-1 statewide margin, told our elected nobility in Lansing “HELL NO” on a proposed tax increase, which they’d tried to sell as a road proposal, but which the voting public saw clearly as a political sausage job that produced a cronyist’s grab bag of goodies. Thus, every single county in this state, without exception and in no uncertain terms, clearly delivered a mandate-level message that we are no longer interested in extending the legislature a taxpayer-funded line of credit, until such time as they get their spending priorities in order. You would think that a statewide vox populi shellacking, with a turnout rate typical of the biennial congressional primaries, would clue in the GoverNerd, and the rest of the MRP/MIGOPe professional political establishment, that We the People are done being their ATM.
You would think that . . . but you would be wrong. Six months after that ballot box rejection, while most of us were tucking our children into bed (or monitoring local election results), the lords and barons in the Michigan Legislature essentially told we the proletariat that our opinion is irrelevant, and that “no” really means “don’t ask again” – which, of course, they didn’t – by passing a “road funding” tax package that was nearly identical to the core of Proposal 15-1, less the elements required to force it onto the ballot. In doing this, they flatly rejected the clear will of the people, imposed through legislative fiat that which they couldn’t persuade the electorate to publicly ratify, and took yet another step toward government by aristocracy.
Snyder said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters that he doesn’t view the results as a message from voters that they won’t accept any tax increase to fund road repairs. “While voters didn’t support this particular proposal, we know they want action taken to maintain and improve our roads and bridges. The ‘relentless’ part of relentless positive action means that we start anew to find a comprehensive, long-term solution to this problem. Doing nothing isn’t an option as the costs are too great.”
That was Governor Richard Dale “Rick” Snyder being quoted, in both the Detroit News and Crain’s Detroit Business, not even twenty-four hours after State Proposal 15-1 (otherwise known as 2014-HJR-UU and its ten tie bars) was resoundingly shellacked by vox populi, roughly 19.93% “yes” to 80.07% “no” of 1,755,881 votes cast (statewide Δρ ≈ 60.15%). For the record, and as the Detroit News cited, that was the worst defeat for a Michigan ballot measure, under the current state constitution, since the Michigan Public School Amendment (Proposal 80-A) went down in flames 21.22% “yes” to 78.78% “no” (almost fully 35 years since a statewide proposal was shot down that badly). However, as we learned over the six months following, the Nerd King’s idea of a relentlessly seeking a comprehensive, long-term solution to maintaining and improving our roads and bridges absolutely involved figuring out how to finally shove a tax increase up our keisters . . . whether We the People like it or not, and no matter how many times We the People make it clear that we’re not interested.
Evidently, as I have been warning since his statewide bus tour campaign to kill the Michigan Tax Limitation Amendment (Proposal 12-5), this was Snyder’s ultimate end goal all along. As was demonstrated quite recently, not to mention during 2014’s “lame duck” session, a two-thirds supermajority just isn’t there for tax increases. Snyder’s ego will not permit him to take “no” for an answer on something he actually cares about, so We the People compelling RDS to have to overcome a supermajority hurdle before satisfying his insatiable lust for the contents of our wallets didn’t sit well with him.
If the money dedicated to transportation in the state budget actually went to roads and bridges, and only to roads and bridges, then I suspect that we wouldn’t have half of the problems that we currently do with our roads and bridges in this state. The problem is that, as we all know (or at least are well aware), transportation funding isn’t used for just the roads; hell, sometimes it’s not even used for transportation. Frankly, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find money nominally intended for transportation actually funding some very specific crony projects, such as:
- The Detroit Institute of Arts bailout
- The Detroit Public Schools bailout
- The Gordie Howe Bridge boondoggle
- Medicaid expansion – which bill is coming due in 2017
- Olympia Stadium
- The new Senate Office Building
- The Wayne County bailout
. . . and that’s just off the top of my head. The meme of the Nerd King and his allies – that there just aren’t any savings to be found in the budget to redirect to roads – doesn’t pass the crock-of-manure smell test, and they know it. The budget absolutely has other places that can be actually cut, and the savings rerouted to transportation (specifically roads and bridges), but the upper management of the MRP/MIGOPe professional political establishment isn’t willing to make the hard choices that would be required if they were actually loyal to the fiscal conservatism planks in their party platform.
Of course, the MRP/MIGOPe spin machine also went into action during the summer, as damn near every single state senator hosted a district town hall meeting to discuss the merits of this road funding package with their constituents back home. If the reader doesn’t remember hearing about any such meeting, then there’s a very good reason for that. As it turns out, the meeting format in question was an invitation-only event for local elected officials (county, township, and municipal level), within the district of the specific state senator, so as to get them onboard with this latest iteration of the Nerd King’s master plan.
And it wasn’t just any and every local elected official who was invited to these meetings, either. No, the invitations were specifically sent out to establishment progressives and cooperative moderates, the upper crust crowd that you’d never see at your county party headquarters unless the executive board’s getting a little skittish about the lack of cooperation from the grassroots base. (Apparently, the willingness of the local official in question to approve or oppose a local resolution supporting Proposal 15-1 was a key benchmark in filtering the invitation list.) The whole point of the meetings, apparently, was to create the impression of statewide support from local elected officials for a badly needed road package.
The cooperative state representatives were also dispatched to the various local government meetings in their districts, leveraging their microphone time so as to express regret that it has come to this, but we are out of time and out of options, there are no cuts available in the state budget, and passing this road funding package is the last best chance to constructively address this mess, which is why we need to do this now. I remember listening to my state representative address the city commission meeting in my hometown, essentially regurgitate those talking points, plainly stating that there was no way that he wasn’t going to support this package, and so we should just assume that this is going to pass and become law. I remember that my city commission primary opponent and I were sitting about five chairs apart in the “visitors’ gallery” of the commission chamber, and the look on his face was probably the same mixture of amazement and disgust that was on mine.
Evidently, the kleptocracy in the MRP/MIGOPe professional political establishment had already decided that this was a done deal, and the only real question was of how long it would take to get the package signed into law, and what deals would have to be cut to get it done. Pretty much everything else that needs to be said about Proposal 15-1, and a few things related (however loosely) to it and the subsequent “road funding package,” has likely already been said elsewhere on this site; I’ll leave the reader to any additional research as he or she might see fit.
So, now that the seven-bill package of mushroom fertilizer was signed into law by Governor Snyder on November 10th, what do we have here?:
- (2015-HB-4736, now 2015-PA-0174): Progressive 20% increase on annual vehicle registration tax (the birthday tax) and vehicle sale tax, and impose a surtax on electric and alternative-fuel vehicles (who don’t pay gas taxes) – effective April 2016 . . . reference 2015 Senate Roll Call 475 and 2015 House Roll Call 406.
- (2015-HB-4737, now 2015-PA-0175): Revise details of road warranties contractors must provide on state road projects, and Detroit is allowed to use up to 20% of its state road funding on mass transit spending . . . reference 2015 Senate Roll Call 477 and 2015 House Roll Call 409.
- (2015-HB-4738, now 2015-PA-0176): Inflation-protected 7.3¢ per gallon state tax increase on gasoline, and inflation-protected 11.3¢ per gallon state tax increase on diesel fuel – both starting in 2017 . . . reference 2015 Senate Roll Call 476 and 2015 House Roll Call 405.
- (2015-HB-4614, now 2015-PA-0177): Inflation-protected “Streamlined Sales Tax” designed to target interstate truckers who purchase out-of-state motor fuel and natural gas . . . reference 2015 Senate Roll Call 480 and 2015 House Roll Call 410.
- (2015-HB-4616, now 2015-PA-0178): Inflation-protected 11.3¢ per gallon state tax increase on motor carrier fuels . . . reference 2015 Senate Roll Call 481 and 2015 House Roll Call 411.
- (2015-HB-4370, now 2015-PA-0179): Earmark $600 million in state income tax revenue to road repairs – beginning in 2020 – and expand a “homestead property tax credit” that homeowners and renters can claim on their state income tax by raising property value and household income caps that limit eligibility (and index these amounts to inflation) . . . reference 2015 Senate Roll Call 478 and 2015 House Roll Call 408.
- (2015-SB-0414, now 2015-PA-0180): Potentially roll back future income tax rates, if the amount of revenue deposited into the state “general fund” in a given year grows at least 1.425 times faster than inflation – but not until 2023 . . . reference 2015 Senate Roll Call 479 and 2015 House Roll Call 407.
. . . and you can bet your sweet bippy that the politicos will defend their votes on House Bill 4370, House Bill 4737, and/or Senate Bill 414 as a counterbalance to their stinkers on the rest of the package. The two-and-a-quarter percent of us, who are paying attention and are actually engaged, aren’t going to buy it, but they’re going to rely on the sixty-eight-and-a-quarter percent, who are low-information voters at best, to swallow the defense hook, line, and sinker.
Just to make sure that we have a more complete picture of just how badly our elected nobility has us over a barrel, let’s make sure that we don’t forget the Nofs-Nesbitt Energy Package (which, as Proposal 12-3, was originally rejected by the Michigan electorate, 37.72% “yes” to 62.28% “no”), the Meekhof-Lyons Campaign Finance “Reform” (which really resulted in less transparency, and muzzling local elected officials in direct violation of Article I § 5 of the Michigan Constitution), the Flint Water Fiasco (already well chronicled here on RightMichigan), and the Main Street Internet Tax . . . and that’s just off the top of my head.
It’s not that I object to being screwed, it’s that I have a real problem being screwed against my wishes, without my consent-in-advance. And yes, I’ve just equated what the GoverNerd and the State Legislature have been doing to the taxpayers to repeated acts of rape; I believe the analogy appropriate. For the past five years, our esteemed governor has been, metaphorically speaking, behaving like a lounge lizard in a spring break beach bar. No matter how crystal-clear the rejection, his ego insisted on registering “no” as “try harder,” and he remained convinced that we’d eventually consent to his advances if he asked us enough times. Yet when it finally became clear that we weren’t changing our minds anytime soon . . .
As nearly every leading light of this nation’s Founding Generation repeatedly counseled, government is exactly two things – force and power – and left unchecked it will leverage the former in the relentless pursuit of consolidating the latter. That is why James Madison advised in Federalist 51: “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” As I’ve observed before, the need for “auxiliary precautions” is what led the Founding Fathers to develop the sophisticated and robust system of checks and balances that is the founding framework of our American Republic, but the Founding Fathers always understood that the primary safeguard to freedom is active citizen oversight of the government. It’s when citizen oversight lapses that we get into trouble, and ultimately what endangers the republic.
Article 1 § 1 of Michigan’s Constitution plainly says: “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal benefit, security, and protection.” We the People are the rightful masters of our government, at every level, yet these days we rarely act like it. A handful of years ago, there was some evidence that a critical mass might have figured it out, but Sturgeon’s Revelation inevitably kicked in, and the inertia of decline promptly reasserted its influence. That, in my opinion, is in large part the reason that we the proletariat of Michigan are in this current predicament, in which our elected nobility in the capitol complex have every reason to believe that they can do as they please without concern for electoral consequence. If we are to restore true liberty to our corner of the republic, then We the People are going to have to do what is necessary to restore a convincing measure of fear unto the elected nobility in the capitol complex (up to, and if necessary including, a pitchforks-and-torches demonstration), and remind them that we’re beyond tired of repeating ourselves.
To start, we each must realize that the taxation and regulatory burden that our benevolent government overlords have placed upon us oppresses us only to the degree that we allow it to. We the People made our opinion on this “road funding package” crystal clear back in May. Repackaging the legislation, making sure that it stayed off the public ballot, doesn’t change the reality that we did not approve, and do not consent to, further taxation (including the manipulation of public user fees). We don’t have to put up with this, and we don’t have to remain willfully ignorant of the basic reality that a ripple here and a ripple there, magnified ad infinitum by hundreds of others doing the exact same thing, can ultimately land a tsunami of stewing discontent on the capitol steps in Lansing. All we have to do is each of us start where we’re at, with what we have, and do what we can.
Speaking of which . . .
For Senator [insert name] “yea” roll call votes numbers 475 and 476, as recorded in Senate Journal 100, dated November 3, 2015, increasing the vehicle registration tax (475) and diesel and gasoline taxes (476).
That, dear reader, is the language recently approved by the Board of Canvassers for use on petitions to recall state senators Wayne Schmidt (RINO-Traverse City), Arlan Meekhof (RINO-West Olive), and Darwin Booher (RINO-Evart). Using 2015 Senate Roll Call votes 475 and 476 as the common benchmark, the following 18 state senators, in my opinion, ought to be on the business end of recall efforts:
- Darwin Booher (R – District 35, Evart) . . . already on the block
- Tom Casperson (R – District 38, Escanaba)
- Geoff Hansen (R – District 34, Hart)
- Kenneth Horn (R – District 32, Frankenmuth)
- Rick Jones (R – District 24, Grand Ledge)
- Marty Knollenberg (R – District 13, Troy)
- Mike Kowall (R – District 15, White Lake)
- Peter MacGregor (R – District 28, Rockford)
- Jim Marleau (R – District 12, Lake Orion)
- Arlan Meekhof (R – District 30, West Olive) . . . already on the block
- Mike Nofs (R – District 19, Battle Creek)
- Margaret O’Brien (R – District 20, Portage)
- David Robertson (R – District 14, Grand Blanc)
- Wayne Schmidt (R – District 37, Traverse City) . . . already on the block
- Mike Shirkey (R – District 16, Clarklake)
- Virgil Smith (D – District 4, Detroit)
- Jim Stamas (R – District 36, Midland)
- Dale Zorn (R – District 17, Ida)
. . . because, no matter how difficult the professional political establishment wants to make it for the people to actually hold them accountable for their actions, Article II § 8 of Michigan’s Constitution requires them to leave that door unlocked. Some may posit that it’s more cost effective to simply un-elect these yahoos at the next primary. The twofold problem with that is (1) their primary is yet two years hence and (2) most of them are already term-limited, and thus effectively out of reach. No, these clowns get lit up now, right now.
However, while there is an organization willing to coordinate and advise on the multi-target effort, this is absolutely going to require locals to do all of the front work and heavy lifting. What works in Northern Michigan or the Upper Peninsula won’t necessarily work in Western Michigan, Mid-Michigan, or Southeast Michigan, so this is going to rely upon us going back to our 2010-cycle operational model. With the exception of perhaps one or two recall campaigns, this will be done by local leadership in organizations local to the district in question, or it won’t be done at all. Ditto for primarying, or otherwise short-circuiting, the 54 state representatives who voted “yea” on both 2015 House Roll Call 405 and 2015 House Roll Call 406 (the lower chamber counterparts to the causa provocare for the senate recall campaigns); with a handful of exceptions, the local leadership will drive the campaigns, or the campaigns won’t happen . . . period.
Three filed and active recalls, fifteen to go. The language is already approved, all the local leadership has to do is get their act together, insert their senator’s name, and run with it. So, shall we get this party started?