FINCH: Perfect storm

By Curt Finch

MOISD Superintendent

In his State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder proposed support for the upcoming May 5 ballot concerning road repairs.

One could argue Michigan is in this position because the legislature wouldn’t do their job, but that’s for another article! As with Proposal A in the mid-1990s, circumstances drive certain variables to the front — a state sputtering economy, a flurry of state-wide structural reforms not making a short-term impact and a national economy with enormous national debt slowing state economic growth — a perfect storm to try and fix a crumbling state transportation infrastructure.

The Governor argues that the May ballot proposal is really not IF to pay for the upgrade and maintenance of our roads, bridges and infrastructure, it’s HOW to pay for it; the crumbling roads aren’t going away. Not too many will argue that Michigan’s roads are in poor shape — just look at the national data on how much Michigan spends per person on transportation infrastructure versus other states; Michigan is near the bottom on most of the lists. Perhaps driving in, or to, any other state in the Union is the best way to find out for yourself; Michigan has an infrastructure problem that needs attention now.

The Governor is in this pickle because the Legislature proposed something he couldn’t live with — paying for roads, bridges and infrastructure with “projected” dollars ear-marked for education. To avoid this philosophical problem, he summoned the Republican and Democratic leadership and compromised on a package that supports the road problem and tackles a few others from their lists. At the heart of the $1.2 billion discussion is the raising of the sales tax from 6 to 7 percent. The Governor argues Michigan will now be in line with its Midwest neighbors while the other side argues the middle class and poor will have to carry the weight; they may both be right.

The question is not “yes” or “no,” on May 5; the real question is what philosophy are you going to choose? We already know what the Republican leadership from the legislature is thinking after seeing former House Speaker Jason Bolger’s plan — pay for the repairs from “projected” growth which impacts educational dollars.

The Governor’s proposal is centered on raising the sales tax. A vote of “yes” on the May ballot will be voting for the roads to be fixed through the sales tax; a vote of “no” on the May ballot will be endorsing the roads to be fixed with future dollars earmarked for education. May 5 will be here sooner than you think!

Dr. Finch can be reached at and followed on Twitter at CFinchMOISD