Monday, December 07, 2009

Over 8,000 Michigan Jobs Will Be Lost Due to Lack of Road Funding

Imagine what the reaction would be if a major employer pulled out of Michigan and took over 8,000 jobs with them. The Republicans would pitch a fit, call for more tax cuts, and insist that everyone work for $1 an hour with no benefits - and you know it. But this time, we have a case were their refusal to raise revenue is going to cost us thousands of jobs and drive away "business".
Next year, Michigan may have to walk away from $475 million in federal highway funds because it lacks $84 million for a state match.

And the losses pile up from there.

Projections from the Michigan Department of Transportation show the state is in danger of losing nearly $2.1 billion in federal funding through fiscal 2014 because Michigan won't be able to match all the funds it is eligible to receive.

$84 million to receive $475 million back, reminiscent of the nearly $1 billion they threw away for Medicaid funding. This time, someone crunched the numbers on how many jobs we are talking about. Wish they would do this with the Medicaid numbers.

The lowered investment would, in fiscal 2011 alone, lead to an estimated 47 percent drop in highway program-related jobs, from 17,070 in the current year to 8,988. The job tallies include direct jobs such as construction workers on site as well as jobs generated indirectly, such as with suppliers and service providers, Steudle said.

“Ultimately, it's devastating,” said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.

And those workers are going elsewhere, Nystrom said.

“We talk about a brain drain in terms of other industries. There is certainly a brain drain going on in our industry as well. These are skilled employees who have a significant amount of experience they are taking to other states.”

So, thousands of jobs lost, skilled workers and ultimately businesses leaving the state. Say, isn't that what the Republicans are always complaining about now? Aren't they using that very same rhetoric as they gear up for the campaign next year?

Matt Marsden, press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said, “We do recognize that there's issues there, that we need to deal with that, and it will be dealt with before 2011. But I'm not sure that a tax increase, across the board, is the answer.”

Kick the can down the road. Refuse to raise funds. Use job loss and destruction of state infrastructure against Democrats. Lather, rinse, repeat, use for every occasion. See how that works?

You will in 2010. Hope that the voters remember just who it was that always said "No!" to fixing our problems before they became nightmares.