Dear One Term Rick: Playing Politics With Potholes

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I’d hoped that my last article about funding road repair in Michigan had exhaustively covered the subject. It was time to move on and discuss other attributes of our current one term governor. Little did I know there was more to the story than I covered and thanks to the additional information from many of you, I offer up more information about our roads, our taxes, and our wallets. Fear not, with twenty months remaining until One Term’s uncoronation, there is sufficient time to examine his record of burdening the middle class at length.

As I pointed out a few weeks ago, over 99.9% of the damage done to Michigan roads (state motto: Carry Two Spares) is done by trucks, the ratio being calculated as one semi truck and trailer damaging the roads equivalent to 9,600 passenger cars. I took it a step further and took a trip down Grand River and deduced that most of us don’t drive trucks, at least not trucks that weigh in the five figure range. I then further deduced that large heavy trucks must be owned primarily by businesses.

So you might guess which lobbying group jumped on One Term Rick’s bandwagon immediately after he proposed fixing the roads primarily by taxing and feeing the very people who don’t own the trucks that wrecked our damn roads. If you said the business lobby, you win the prize.

Now I certainly understand why the business lobby thinks they can get One Term to make us pay for their problems: they own him. They convinced him that Michigan is a dung heap and any business looking to move or relocate to Michigan would have selected it by the blindfold-dart-throwing-at-the-map method. So One Term, fresh from the business paradise that is South Dakota (state motto: Where Is Everybody?) decided that most businesses shouldn’t pay any taxes at all in the state. He wiped out most corporate taxes, wants to dump the personal property taxes, (and totally screw the towns and villages who depend on personal property tax collection) and now he wants us to fix the roads that his buddies’ trucks ruined to attract more truck traffic to our Water/Winter Wonderland.school bus pothole

Now, come to find out, all that money we pay in taxes and fees doesn’t even end up in the “fix the roads funds.” An example as to how this occurs can be found in this article from 2001 showing how that master of innovation, Little Johnny Engler, decided that grabbing $63 million from the Michigan Transportation Fund to balance the budget made perfect sense. To wit; “Because state government is now facing a budget deficit, Governor Engler recently issued an executive order which takes $63 million from the Transportation Fund and uses it to fund other non-road related activities.” Pretty cool, eh?

But of course it wasn’t a one time grab. There’s actually a bill (senate Bill 6) under consideration that would mandate that some of the funds collected by taxing gasoline and licensing vehicles must be used for transportation related matters. What a concept! “But the 40 percent that’s not constitutionally mandated elsewhere should go to transportation.” So if you think you’re already paying to maintain the roads, think again because the constitution applies 60% of those monies to other things.

Another ruse is that they will tax the people that can’t afford lobbyist schmoozing for their behalf (ie:us) and hope forgetfulness reigns every November in even numbered years. For instance, the tax on diesel fuel hasn’t been raised since 1984 according to this 2012 study (page 16). Meanwhile, as of last year, our gas taxes were already fifth highest in the nation.. Lobbyists 1, Citizens 0.

And for some reason that I don’t understand, the GOP is afraid of alternate energy and they’re considering using this road repair issue as a weapon against these relatively new transportation modes. They see hybrids and electrics as taxable targets because they use little to no gasoline. Never known as the party of the future, they should realize today’s young people expect and want to be driving hybrids and electrics in their future according to this 2012 article and this one from 2013. But hey, the Republicans know their target demographic better than me, I suppose, and conventional energy companies are very generous to elected officials. And if they pull out the “fairness” principle on me (“well, they use the roads just like regular cars”) we’re right back to the fact that trucks destroy the roads not cars, gasoline, electric or both.

rick snyder roadsIt bothers me that just as One Term’s repeal of most business taxes is kicking in to the tune of around $1.7 billion per year, he’s in my face because he needs $1.2 billion to fix the roads. Does anyone else see the irony here?

When One Term was elected he said the state needed structural change. How were we to know that meant dropping the structure on the middle class?

Sorry, I’m not rich enough to be able to afford One Term’s vision for Michigan.

About Wayne Johnson 69 Articles
I've worked in book manufacturing for over 30 years, closing my company Baker Johnson, Inc. in 2005. Currently I work freelance with a large group of publishers, advising them on the printing options available to them as the book industry endures major restructuring. My wife Cathy is a retired psychologist and spent most of her career working with the youth at Maxey Boys Training School. She is a small mammal rehabilitator with Friends of Wildlife. Our daughter Whitney is a PharmD working in the Denver area evaluating the pharmaceutical requirements of nursing homes. Our son Eliot lives in Waterloo and is an editor at Mathematical Reviews in Ann Arbor.

2 Comments

  1. The Motley Fool (stock market analysis) posted an interesting article about the future of alternative fuels today and since I referenced such new-fangled science as anathema to the right, I thought I’d post it as a follow-up. The GOP can laugh all they want but they were never that good at predicting the future (the Bush tax breaks were going to pay off the deficit by 2010 according to the Heritage Foundation! And invading Iraq would kick off so much money the war would pay for itself!). You can find the post by copy and pasting this address into your browser.
    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/03/23/make-an-investment-in-your-grandchildrens-future.aspx

  2. Awesome, Mr. Johnson! Thank you for this very well-written post. And I LOVE seeing it in the Livingston Post.

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