I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has a real pair of you-know-whats to ask Michigan voters for sacrifice when they're giving nothing up themselves.
Proposition 1 could go either way in the upcoming May 5 election, but most likely it's going to die a merciful death by ballot. The Prop 1 campaign spokesman said that a Plan B is "Unicorns and fairy dust." Sounds like it's time for Lansing Republicans to click their red slippers together and head home.
Oddly, I happen to like what's in the bill. Yeah, you read that right: I actually like Proposition 1. Money for schools? Check. Money for infrastructure? Check. Helping the poor? Check. Making sure road taxes go to roads? Check.
I'm willing to pay for all those things. That's not the problem.
The problem is what's not in the bill. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has completely reshaped our tax structure so paper corporate entities pay less than flesh and blood human beings. People don't want to pay more when big business is paying less. The chamber also fought against any change in our weight allowance for commercial vehicles, which is one of the biggest problems for our roads.
The other problem is that a good warranty on a bad road is still worthless. The state tries to save money on roads by putting good material on a bad foundation of dirt.
In the meantime, pavement is rolling up like dough under a rolling pin, while the wet dirt underneath sucks the asphalt into potholes. In this case, the rolling pins are massive commercial vehicles with the highest weight limits in the United States.
We can see the effects of it as roads redone in the last 15 years push upward into little mountain ridges. What are contractors supposed to do about that when the state is telling them how to build the roads?
When the Romans built their roads, they didn't just throw concrete on top of dirt. They placed concrete on top of layers of stones, mortar and clay up to six feet deep.
Roman roads built in the Alps at the time of Christ are still around thousands of years later. If the state gave the work only to contractors that use skilled trade union employees and let the experts design our roads to last, we wouldn't need a darn warranty.
Of course, this would cost money. When Lansing republicans are trying to cut the prevailing wage and hire unskilled, temporary construction workers to save, do you really think they're going to start spending the moula required for an infrastructure that lasts? Our republican legislature would buy the roads from Bangladesh if they could.
In 2013 Detroit, Warren and Dearborn alone exported $53.9 billion in goods. The infrastructure that supports this trade comes with shared responsibility. Residents benefit from this in the form of jobs and we use the roads, so it's understandable that we're asked to pay. However, corporations need to pay their fair share too, since they benefit the most from international trade.
In the meantime, Lansing politicians ought to think about what the next step is. Whether Prop 1 is passed or passes away, Michigan still needs lower commercial weight limits and better road construction. It's time to start thinking about Plan B.