Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snyder's Stance on Gas Taxes Will Cost Michigan Thousands of Road Construction Jobs

Peter Luke pointed out right after the election that the Republicans will now be forced to take responsibility for what happens next concerning budget decisions that weigh on Michigan's economy...

The benefits of divided government for the Republicans was that they were able to defer difficult decisions with the best of them. When those decisions weren't deferred, Republicans were able to sit back while the Democrats put up the nasty votes to raise revenue. If voters were unhappy about it, Democrats led by Gov. Jennifer Granholm could take the blame. And though Democrats often bailed when Republicans cast the tough votes to reduce spending, Granholm's signature on the end product made her chiefly responsible.

It was a win-win for the Republicans, but Tuesday's results mean the responsibility of governing will be all theirs. Democrats likely to be buried in the minority for a few election cycles appear inclined to let the Republicans discover what happens when the thrill of victory begins to fade.

Consider the thrill fading as of... now! Since Mike Bishop and the Senate Republicans refused to address the issue of federal matching funds and road construction jobs back when it was first brought up almost one year ago...

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.”

Oops! Ran out of time. Maybe shouldn't have made that promise, eh Senator Bishop? Even threats from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce couldn't move the Do-Nothing Republicans to act on the problem, so now the loss of nearly 8,000 road construction jobs will be put on Rick Snyder's tab. Let's thank the DNews for reviving the story today...

MDOT is predicting funding losses of $120 million to $160 million per year from 2012 to 2015. If it can't come up with matching funds, it could mean the loss of $575 million to $800 million in federal funds for each of those years.

"That will mean not fixing 600 bridges, the cancellation/postponement of 180 road projects covering 385 miles of roads. Plus, we will cancel maintenance projects slated for more than 600 miles of roads," MDOT's Shreck said. "In 2011, our budget will provide 15,800 construction jobs; but in 2012, that will drop to under 8,000 every year until at least 2015."

And what is getting to be a very predictable and vague non-answer from the Snyder camp is issued in return...

Gov.-elect Rick Snyder has repeatedly indicated he is not in favor of a gas tax hike, said his spokesman, (Bill) Nowling.

"It's not something we need to focus on," Nowling said. "It could bog us down from making tougher tax decisions, like how do we make the overall tax situation in Michigan more palatable so Michigan is a place where businesses can locate and grow?"

Yeah, well, you would have thought that the Republicans had an answer to the "overall tax situation" before they canned the SBT way back in 2006 and then proceeded to stall on the issue for months...

Bishop said lawmakers have plenty of time to work on alternatives to the state's Single Business Tax, which will die at the end of 2007.

"We don't want to rush to any conclusions, and certainly there are a lot of ideas out there," Bishop said of a new business tax. "But this is all too important to rush to a final decision too quick."

... but then came up with the MBT, hailed it a success, until they hated it for a campaign issue in 2010 of course, and now we find they still don't have a solid plan for business taxes and how they relate to the overall budget difficulties. So, wave bye bye to thousands of jobs and millions of dollars, and hello to crappy roads that will get more expensive to fix as time goes on. "Business" surely can't be happy with this development. Will the Chamber re-issue their threats anytime soon?

Chickens. Roost. You know the drill. Although, we should just get this over with, secure the federal funding and all those jobs by and raising the gas tax already, it might be fun to watch the Republicans twist in the wind from their own revenue obstruction tendencies. Maybe Luke was right, and the Dems can just hold back for a bit - or better yet, start pointing the simple truth about Republicans and lost jobs out to the press. After all, isn't job creation what this is all about?