Officials playing the blame game for no road funding
On your mark Get set. Go.
Let the blame game and the finger-pointing commence.
In case you missed it, the Michigan Senate under GOP control whiffed not once but twice on pouring more money into the state’s badly battered roads deciding instead to dash off to the campaign trail for 12 weeks.
The prevailing attitude as they rode off into the sunset was they could work on that this summer.
Tell that to your favorite pothole.
In fairness the money they talked about would not have hit the pavement until next year, but the motoring public must be wondering, why did they not get this done?
Not enough votes.
Earlier in the week in the spirit of bi-partisanship Senate GOP Leader Randy Richardville and his Democratic colleague Sen. Gretchen Whitmer agreed with the governor they would support the $1.5 billion package. Democrats would get $200 million in property tax relief for the needy and in return they would vote for the road deal.
Agreements are one thing. Getting votes was quite another. After the first day of trying, the little engine that could, couldn’t. So it was on to Plan B a dramatically scaled down version. It would have created a higher wholesale gas tax with an automatic inflationary increase each year as the cost of fuel oil went up or down.
This time there was no deal, as Democrats groused instead.
This won’t fix the roads, they seemed to say in unison.
Mr. Richardville and the governor concede the obvious, but Mr. Snyder said this was “progress” and the GOP Senate leader argues upwards of $850 million would have been raised. Key words there, “would have been.”
Even though he has 26 GOP votes he could not get to 20 to pass it. The Democrats boycotted the bill and may take some criticism for not providing any votes. Some could blame the D’s for not voting for some money that is better than nothing. The spokesperson for them says that charge is “absurd.”
Enter Ms. Whitmer who had some pointed observations about the governor.
“The governor’s been working on this for three years,” she begins and ends with, “he doesn’t know how to use the power of the executive office.”
Gov. Snyder was asked if his failure to round up support for the big fix was failure of leadership?
Surprise. Surprise he offered, “I don’t view it that way.”
He reminds everyone that the last time lawmakers hiked the gas tax, it took years to get it done. He’ll have to wait a little longer and as sure as the Good Lord made little green apples, Democratic challenger Mark Schauer will blast the governor for failing even though some additional dollars have been allocated.
Rep. Peter Lund (R-Macomb County) suggests the Democrats wanted to blow up this package so that Mr. Scahuer could make that claim.
You had all sorts of crosswinds blowing around this debate. The most incredible suggestion was the Tea Party ouster of Congressman Eric Cantor last week.
How in the heck did that vote in Virginia impact a road vote in Michigan?
Sen. Jack Brandenburg (R-Macomb County) believes it made some Republicans sitting on the fence on more road revenue think twice about voting yes. The T.P. victory showed, “anyone can be beaten at any time.”
The special interest groups that labored for more money produced a goose egg and a warning from the Michigan Chamber President Rich Studley. “They’re making a mistake” by leaving town with this issue still up in the air.
So will citizens in the August primary target lawmakers who took a hike instead of a vote? Suppose that may depend on how many potholes you hit on the way to work.