Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Won't Somebody Please Think of the Politicians?

Our roads are in horrible shape. You know this. The legislators know this. They won't raise the money to address this, but so far no one has volunteered to fix them for free. It’s a big problem. Over the past couple of years, much rending of the garments and gnashing of the teeth has been accomplished in Lansing over this issue, but precious little else has been done to move towards a solution to fix the road repair dilemma.

Unless we come up with the cash by October of 2010, in 2011 Michigan will lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars in matching federal funds. No more soup and road tar for us. According to Dept. of Transportation director Kirk Steudle, 125 road and bridge projects on tap for the state will come to a halt at that time. So, the House and Senate Transportation Committees are meeting yet again to quibble over pennies while you pay an average of $370 a year to repair your car.

Gongwer brings us the plan. Registration fees for vehicles will go up, the tax on gasoline and diesel fuels would change to a wholesale base that would be capped at three cents a year, and stop at a 34 cent cap in total. An aviation fuel increase is in there as well, so Dick might have to pay more to chopper in and out of the residential neighborhoods of Ada. Yes, that's sad, but ultimately necessary if the limo is to stay out of the shop.

While the proposal to increase the state's fuel taxes and registration fees would raise a substantial amount of money, the hit to individual motorists' pocketbooks would be small, Transportation Director Kirk Steudle told a joint meeting of the House and Senate Transportation committees.

Given the current range of vehicle mileage and commuting distances, he said the 3 cents per gallon annual increase proposed in the package would cost between 22 cents and 58 cents a week.

"When we say this break everybody's back, really? A half a pack of gum will break everybody's back?" he said.

Of course it won't break anyone's back, but it might break a few Republican campaign slogans, and there is nothing more tragic than a politician that finds he now has to lay in the bed that his own party has spiked with nails. Shed a tear for our anti-tax, anti-responsibility Republican friends, would you?

Though most comments from the two committees indicated more concern with being sure there would be enough funding for the state to match federal grants, Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy) argued the political climate would make it difficult to pass the proposed increases.

"I think the case has been made. I think all of us up here agree we need more money for roads," Mr. Knollenberg said. "The problem is the funding mechanism. ...Did the task force consider the political heat us legislators might take?"

No, they didn't, those selfish, heartless bastards. How could they ignore people's political careers in all of this? Have they no shame? They probably watered down the drinks up at Mackinac too! Is there no end to the abuse that these people must endure?

Remember to include the politicians in your prayers tonight. They suffer so.