Michigan voters have soundly rejected Proposal One, Governor Rick Snyder’s $2 billion dollar plan to fund road repairs without siphoning money from schools and local governments. The loss sends the governor and the Legislature back to the bargaining table because almost everyone still agrees the roads are bad.
“I voted yes on Proposal One because the roads here are in horrible condition,” says Margie Lesher of Lansing. But she sure wasn’t happy about her choices. “I hated voting yes because I think the Legislature abstained from doing their job and should have come up with a better solution and done it themselves. But I’m afraid if it doesn’t pass the roads will just get worse.”
Most voters appeared to be more like Eric Christopherson of Grand Rapids, who says he just didn’t really trust that this was the best solution the Legislature could come up with.
“I voted no,” he says.
It was a difficult proposal to follow. An increase in the state sales tax of a penny on the dollar would have offset cuts to schools and local governments after taxes paid at pump were devoted entirely to roads and transit.
“I don’t really understand exactly where the money is going to go,” Christopherson says. “I don’t really believe it’s going to go where they say it is.”
Even opponents of the ballot proposal say something needs to be done to fix Michigan’s roads. Millionaire businessman Paul Mitchell was one of the leaders of the effort to defeat Proposal One, and he was among those who celebrated the defeat of the ballot question.
“We all agree the roads desperately need to be fixed, (yes!) but we want a responsible approach to fixing our roads – (yes!) an approach that effectively and wisely uses our tax dollars.”
Defeat for the governor
The night’s results were plainly a defeat for Governor Rick Snyder, who, like virtually everyone else, said Proposal One was an imperfect solution. He says it might have helped if there were a stark alternative for voters to envision in case Proposal One failed. But he says the public wants to see potholes patched, bridges made safe, and roads and highways that are the envy of the Midwest.
“One thing that, hopefully, most everyone agrees to is that nobody likes our roads, and there are some people who don’t like tax increases of any fashion for any reason. But there are a lot of people who think something needs to be done on this. And, hopefully, that’s a gathering point for many people and many legislators,” he says.
And the governor says he will start over today to try and cobble together another proposal to pay for road repairs. He says the cost of fixing the roads and bridges will only increase with time, and, now, this upcoming construction season is pretty much lost. This political defeat, he says, will add millions and millions of dollars to the price tag.