Between a tax and a pothole

In less than a month, we in Michigan will be voting on a “proposal” to increase the sales tax by one percent to pay for our crumbling infrastructure.  I used the term parenthetically because Governor Snyder and the “lame-duck” Legislature couldn’t (or rather, wouldn’t) agree on a way to fix the roads so they punted and left it up to the voters to decide.

For the love of Jim Arnold, they screamed “Mayday!!!” So, on May 5th, much like the botched fake punt the Lions tried against the Saints all those years ago, Snyder and his tea-soaked, gerrymandered-to-the-teeth, beholden-to-the Big Three* and the 59-year-old-virgin, this proposal will be voted down.

“There is no Plan B,” Snyder has said.  Michigan has the worst roads in the Nation.  The state spends roughly $125 per mile on road repair, according to the Detroit Free Press. The latest poll numbers show it going down to defeat that would send a clear message to Lansing to stop signing pledges and kowtowing to the DeVos, Meijer and Dow families (aka the Big Three*) and start working for the people who voted you in (and even those who didn’t).

We have seen this bait and switch before.  In 1994, another Republican Governor got re-elected and we raised the sales tax two percent to pay for schools and road repairs.  In the 21 years since that happened, funding for public education has been cut to where many school districts use year-round substitute teachers to get around paying teachers a full-time wage.  That, plus the rise of homeschooling and Charter schools, have contributed to the loss of revenue.

Roads are a different matter altogether.  They are dangerous and in need of repair. There are several ways the state could do that without putting the burden on taxpayers. They could reinstate the property tax, which was frozen in a trade-off in ’94. The state’s Congressional delegation could (and should) ask for the Federal Government to approve parts of I-94, I-96 or I-75 for toll-road designation, which would raise money strictly for road repairs, just like in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. But they won’t. Michigan is near the bottom when it comes to tax dollars returned from Washington, so why should they start now?

There are so many other ways we could fix both the roads and schools without raising the sales tax.  The beer and alcohol tax hasn’t been raised in 50 years. Yes, you read that right. Fifty years. 1965. Sean Connery was (and always shall be) James Bond, the Beatles were the biggest band in the world, the Big Three were GM, Ford and Chrysler.  George Romney was the governor. Detroit was the 4th largest city in the country. Hudson’s was still downtown. Northland, due to close on Friday, was attracting visitors from all around the world. The Lions were, well, lets not go there. But you get my point.

Also, the tax on Tobacco and cigarettes hasn’t been touched for a while. And people will buy them no matter what the cost, so why not raise the tax on them.  All of these have been discussed, along with lowering the weight limit on long haul trucks, but nothing ever gets done.  Except screwing the poor, disabled, elderly and children.  I seem to think it’s time we in Michigan changed that.

I thought about voting yes on the proposal, because our wrong-headed Attorney General (who wants to be Governor in 2018) Bill Schuette, came out against it.  Well, for a while, I took the Groucho Marx stance and said “whatever he stands for, I’m against it,” but I sent in my absentee ballot marked “no.”

So, that’s where I stand on this.

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