Source: Muskegon Chronicle File Photo
A friend of mine has started a monthly "salon" where we discuss policy issues. The membership is still in flux, and we have many pet projects, so the discussions tend to be about pretty much everything about which we "lefties" might have a thing or two to say. I volunteered to research Proposal 1 because I wondered how road repair, school funding, and the earned income tax credit could all be "mushed" into a constitutional amendment...and why?
After much discussion of the 7 items encompassed by the constitutional amendment (Proposal 1), we came to the conclusion that it didn’t really address road repair at all. What it does is create the groundwork for the passage of ten (10) bills by the legislature to accomplish the road repairs and other items opened up by the change in the constitution (if it passes). We agreed that it was a complicated path to school funding, revenue sharing, restructure of the gas surcharge, and sales tax, with the incentive for progressives being the reinstatement of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and a possible incentive for the right in the removal of sales tax from gasoline and diesel fuel. We were left wondering what the 10 bills were going to be, and what chances they had of passing?
The lines are somewhat shakily drawn. There is bi-partisan support for the amendment, but U.S. Sen. Peters (D) questions the proposal for its’ complexity, and wonders how a layperson is going to understand the proposal well enough to vote yea or nay. Bill Schuette (R) our current attorney general (and potential gubernatorial candidate), has been accused of being against it to curry favor with the right wing/Tea Party camp (which he denies). However, polls seem to indicate that votes for and against are running neck and neck with a large percentage of voters undecided.
If you want to read more, here are the links that I found to be most informative:
Ballotpedia (non-partisan group in Wisconsin): http://ballotpedia.org/Michigan_Sales_Tax_Increase_for_Transportation_Amendment,_Proposal_1_(May_2015)
Michigan Radio’s take on the 7 bullet points: http://michiganradio.org/post/youll-see-7-bullet-points-may-5th-road-funding-ballot-question-we-explain-them-here
The official ballot language: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Official15_1_482602_7.pdf
Analysis by Detroit Free Press editorial board: http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/brian-dickerson/2015/02/28/proposal-michigan-roads-sales-tax/24153927/
Full text of the amendment: http://ballotpedia.org/Michigan_Proposal_1_(May_2015),_Full_Text_of_Constitutional_Changes
If you want to know what happens next (assuming the constitutional amendment passes), contact your state legislators and get some information about what the legislature would need to do to finally rearrange the puzzle pieces and get a start on the actual road repairs. If you have a yearning to write a letter or two to the editors of the Free Press, MLive, Detroit News, the Lansing State Journal or other publications, now is the time to start doing it. Or, just post something on social media to your friends, and their kids, to encourage them to get informed and make the best of choices…whatever that might be.