Fix Michigan’s roads? Seldom has one issue, especially such a usually non-politicized one, been so predominant in deciding a state’s election. Yet, recently here in Michigan, it was. Some say so predominantly it actually elected our latest governor. Voters turned out in droves with assurances from both sides of the aisle in Lansing that something was going to happen. Finally, there was going to be no more “kicking the can down the road”. This time we were really going to “do something” about our crumbling highways.
So why now are we still bandying the whole thing around? Does it always have to be about politics? Does it always have to be a footnote in the overall budget? Democrats vs. Republicans, Liberals vs. Conservatives, that kind of thing? Don’t acceptable and traversable roads fall more into the “essential services” sector of state government that we all entrust our tax dollars into?
It’s ironic that in a state like Michigan, that prides itself on attracting cutting-edge technology and world-class industry and that bills itself as a travel “Pure Michigan” destination, that we continue to mostly ignore the very means by which this type of commerce is generated----namely an up-to-date infrastructure of roads. Indiana and Ohio, our sister States in terms of demographics, seem to be able to handle the issue. Why can’t we?
One thing we’ve learned so far. It’s that most of us really don’t want to pay one of the highest gasoline taxes in the nation. Probably the bigger lesson here is that there isn’t going to be any “magic bullet” solutions to the problem. As complicated and involved as our elected officials in Lansing continue to make of the issue, the lasting solution, as we see it, can only come from three alternatives:
- Generate more revenue. As we all know, that will mean increased taxes. Or….
- Take it from somewhere else. Maybe tweaking other parts of the budget? Maybe look at other causes, other services, other spending programs? Maybe look a little harder at some of the “earmarks”? Undoubtedly that would mean having to compete with PACS, special interest groups, and other “influencers” who populate the halls of state government. Unfortunately the “road problem” doesn’t have these kinds of groups working the Capitol Building. Maybe that’s part of how we got where we’re at in the first place. Or…
- Mortgage the future with some kind of state bond financing structure.
So to all state elected officials, we say, address the problem. Take it out of the political arena and work not as partisans but as “statesmen” and “stateswomen”. Do the right thing. Start solving the problem before another frustrating pothole season. Fix it so it doesn’t happen again. Fix it for all of us and for all future generations. “DO SOMETHING”