Weasel Words? Really? We can do much better than that!

You people in Lansing are supposed to be Conservatives. Why not try acting like a Conservative for a change?

There is an axiom that everyone has probably heard numerous times already that goes something like this: “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”

A friend of mine would add in a second line to that to make it a little bit more interesting…”Those who fail to learn the lesson of history correctly, well they are just plain doomed.”

It strongly looks like were seeing that second line play out here in Michigan after the defeat of Proposal 1.

This time around, though, it doesn’t have to end that way.

{More after the fold}

I’m not going to touch on the results of last week’s vote on Prop 1 any more.

If you’ve gotten this far into my post, it’s a safe bet that you’re already aware of the outcome.

But what I am going to touch on is where do we go from here?

Unless your name is Nolan Finley, Stephen Henderson, Rick Snyder (Arlan Meekhof or Kevin Cotter..more on those last two in a bit), the message they apparently received was that Proposal 1 in its final form was bad, but people are more than happy to hand over their hard earned money to the Michigan Government because of the outstanding job they have done of late maintaining Michigan Roads (see page 13).

Now, you may be scratching your heads at the last two.

You might have even thought that they were even on our side,

Sorry to shatter your rose colored glasses-view of the scenario, but that is far from the case.

I’ll start off with the least obvious example: Speaker Kevin Cotter in last week’s Macomb Daily.

“Voters didn’t say don’t fix the roads,” Cotter said. “What they said was fix the roads and don’t add a lot of other things on to it. The plan I put forwards will be heavily dependent on existing revenue (emphasis mine).”

I’d highly recommend getting a second opinion there Speaker Cotter.There is a big difference between “heavily dependent” and “solely dependent”.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, let’s see what Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof had to say himself on the mysterious “Plan B”;

“Many will view the election results as a mandate against increasing taxes to pay for our roads, and while that may be true for some citizens, I believe voters are also sending a message that they expect the legislature to solve this problem.

Road funding issues have plagued Michigan since the current structure was passed in 1997. It took decades to come up with a compromise and it will take time to come up with an alternative.

Last term, I voted for a legislative solution that restructured fuel taxes and took into account the rising cost of road maintenance. Rest assured, I am ready and willing to be part of a practical and sustainable plan to adequately fund our roads.”

Wow! Only “Some citizens”, Senator?

Very interesting take you have there.

I’m not sure which circles they travel in, but I’ve yet to see a Michigan Taxpayer yet who complains that they aren’t paying enough of their own hard-earned money into the system?

Purportedly, a replacement will be ready in the coming days.

Now, based on what little we know on the framework for their “Plan B”-solution to actually fix Michigan’s Roads, I see this very potentially going the way of the whole Open/Closed Primary debacle that just went down last week in Boyne Falls (no, I can’t see any down side to what transpired).

I’m not a card-carrying Republican. So if the Michigan Republican Party wants to go and hand the White House over the likes of the Three Stooges: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, they can knock themselves out for all I care.

I will go on record and say that I am a Conservative Michigan Taxpayer who doesn’t care for the games that are taking place up in Lansing under the guise of “solving a problem”.

What am I ultimately getting at here?

As I alluded to in an earlier post, I’m of the very strong opinion that the final design of any plan that comes about for actually fixing Michigan Roads should originate and be agreed to by the Grassroots and then go up to our elected REPRESENTATIVES in Lansing for introduction and eventual implementation.

I’m not going to wait for the likes of Rick Snyder to lead (after deciding what his career track will be post-2018). I’m not going to wait to see what tax hike we can expect from the Michigan Senate to cram down our throats. I’m not going to wait to see what “compromise” we can expect from the Michigan House after the “exhaustive” task they will undertake to locate savings.

I would propose that we leave the door open for about two weeks for ideas. That during that time Michigan Conservatives can submit what areas and programs to cut from the Michigan Budget.

I’m not looking for something nebulous like Rep. Courser’s idea of a 10%-across-the-board cut. Not that I’m necessarily opposed his idea in principle, but that it would be difficult to sell to others in a final plan.

I’m talking about specific one-time cuts, long term cuts, policy changes and program eliminations.

To bottom line it; Actual solutions to not only pay for Michigan Roads, but the get most value out of that money spent as well.

Especially those which do not involve a tax or fee hike of any kind!

Call it  “The Right Michigan Solution for Fixing Michigan Roads” (sorry I still couldn’t come up with another good name for it).

So to start things off, here is a short list of my suggestions gleaned from multiple sources. For the record: I do not claim ownership of them, they are just here for readers to consider for the final plan.

One-time cuts:

Eliminate the Detroit Public School Bailout. $500-700 million over a decade will go a long way towards fixing something actually worth fixing. Besides, Michigan Taxpayers bailed out Detroit once already. Detroiters claim to be able to manage their own affairs, let them prove it by standing on their own for a change.

Capitol View. This is nothing more than naked political payback to a certain well-known political contributor. The Michigan Senate already has an office building and $134-million can be better spent on roads.

Train storage fees. Why are we told that there is nothing to cut in the budget, yet we are paying $1.1-million/year storage fees for trains that won’t be in services for years (if ever). This isn’t counting the approximately $12-million spent so far on this Choo Choo to nowhere. Again, money better spent on roads.

Long-term cuts:

Comprehensive Transportation Fund. Michigan Spends in the neighborhood of $200-million to prop up things like the regional bus systems around Michigan. Last time I checked, every bus had a fare box. Since one of the arguments behind Prop 1 was the safety aspect of driving on Michigan Roads, eliminate this line item and reprogram those monies towards road improvement.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation. An extra-constitutional authority that picks winners and losers in Michigan economy. The very concept should be an anathema to real conservatives here in Michigan. Eliminate this approximate $200-million line item and reprogram the money towards Michigan Roads.

Michigan Prevailing Wage Law. While eliminating this will not affect work done on the state level very much due to Davis-Bacon, on the local level the savings can really add up to about $224-million/year.

Michigan Film Subsidies. A darling of former Senate Leader Randy Richardville, Michigan spent $50-million in order to bribe/lure movie makers into Michigan. Given the latest box office numbers I’ve seen on movies like Avengers 2, even the most stalwart defender of this program will have a hard time defending it.

Reprogramming fund appropriations. I’m not certain how easy it will be to sell ideas like Rep Lucido’s idea to use the interest from the MCCA fund on Michigan Roads (especially given MCCA propensity to hide their books from FOIA review), but that doesn’t mean that other funds aren’t available. I liked the idea of redirecting interest generated from the Kammer Land Trust to help support Michigan Roads. Yes, this will require a public vote, but given the other ideas I’ve cited above, it will help fill in the gap in the long term.

Policy Changes:

Making MDOT accountable.

What good are road warranties, if you won’t enforce the ones you have already?

Given that literally MILLIONS were wasted when it was recently reported that MDOT let road warranties expire without any action being taken, legislation should be implemented to hold those accountable. No one would tolerate an employee who simply walked off in million in Michigan Taxpayers money, so why should hiding under the guise of being an appointed official and not doing the job you were hired to do, be any different?

We need legislation holding those officials criminally liable for those losses as well as civilly. Not only would people like MDOT head Kirk Steudle be spending some quality time in Jackson for the next several decades along with any underlings also responsible, but he/they would be made liable to repay back the millions from lost warranty work.

A pretty good incentive to do your job, if you asked me.

Reviving “lost” construction techniques. Back in the day, Michigan built a highway called the Davidson Freeway. That road was in use for 50-years without needing to be resurfaced. I know that the technique for constructing the road is still known (it did take longer to build that most roads). The source of material from Michigan to build that road is still known.

The end results cannot be argued.

If you had a road that you knew wouldn’t need to be fixed for at least 50 years, the frustration to Michigan Motorists notwithstanding, wouldn’t you want it done right the first time?

So according to my quick back of the Subway napkin-math:

DPS Bailout – $50-million (for one year, and no pun intended, I’m being conservative with the number)

Capitol View – $134-million

Train Storage – $ 1.1-million

CTF – $200-million

MEDC- $200-million

MPWL – $224-million

Michigan Film – $50-million

Total so far: $ 859.1-million (not counting reprogramming fund appropriations)

And that’s just for one year. Using Gov Snyder’s own “target” of $1.2-billion, it’s not a bad start.

Let me end this by reminding everyone that this is a Conservative Based contributor community.

Given the breadth of knowledge and experience of the posters and readers of this site (which IMHO compared to what I see in Lansing is impressive), I know that we can do better.

You Betcha! (7)Nuh Uh.(1)

  4 comments for “Weasel Words? Really? We can do much better than that!

  1. Corinthian Scales
    May 12, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Deep-sixing prevailing wage? Yep. It ain't just screwing us on roads: http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/21284

    Matter of fact, it works in conjunction with all the Minimum Wage crap (Thanks, Pettalia) as a baseline argument for union labor collective bargaining negotiations, of which, those in the public sector should be abolished.

    You Betcha! (1)Nuh Uh.(1)
  2. KG One
    May 27, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I just wanted to do a quick follow up.

    I'm going to close accepting suggestions at this time.

    I did get a few good ideas (more on implementation than actual items to cut & dollar amounts) that I've added to the final post.

    Right now, I'm going to hold off releasing it just quite yet because I'm waiting to hear back from a few of my snitches.

    If they have something good to add, I'll pass it along.

    Just making sure that I can get everything straight and organized before then

    You Betcha! (0)Nuh Uh.(0)

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