The road funding battle continues in Michigan. A group of conservative Senators is digging in their heels against the tide of tax and fee hikes already passed by the House, and which the Governor has signaled his willingness to sign. Nolan Finley, in today's edition of The Detroit News is calling for the Governor to "break some legs" among the group resisting the bill.
I'm not writing to rip Nolan Finley this morning, as disappointing as its weak logic is. Apparently "clinging to the pretense that a billion dollars can be found in the
General Fund without wrecking Michigan. If there’s that much fat in the
budget, why haven’t these lawmakers trimmed it by now?", or more succinctly "If nobody's found it yet, it must not be there". I guess Christopher Columbus should have just given up. Or Jonas Saulk. Alexander Graham Belll. Edison. Einstein. Fill in your own insightful person who discovered something no one thought existed. According to Nolan Finley they should have just given up and quit. Nolan - that's pretty weak. And in the face of an 80-20 rejection of a similar ballot initiative last spring, it's pretty tone deaf. Might I suggest, Nolan, that if they haven't found it in there, it's because they aren't looking? And if they aren't looking, it's likely because they don't want to find anything, because they would then have to make some really hard choices?
No, today I'm writing to once again to rail against the political mindset that is completely insulated from the realities of the world around them which the rest of us little people have to live in. That reality is that we citizens are taxed and fee-ed to the breaking point. Every new "problem" requires the extraction of more money from the citizenry. Every new project needs "funding" from the government and it's never-ending bounty. And if we don't fund all these things, including 1.2 BILLION NEW DOLLARS to fix the roads, then according to Nolan Finley and a lot of other political class groupthinkers, we will "wreck Michigan".
I'm here writing once again to say something no one besides these stubborn, intransigent, conservative dreamers seems to be willing to say: NO!
It's easy to raise taxes and fees - just ask the House. Or the
Governor. Or the President for that matter. It's the politician's
default answer to every issue. What's hard is to look at your
constituents and say "sorry we couldn't fund your dog park - we had to
use that money to fix the roads".
So, no we should not fund bike paths and hiking trails before we fund our roads. We should not fund parks, malls, housing developments, windmills, or any other fluff the State funds until the road repairs are paid for. And not just now, but five, ten, and fifty years from now.
So, no you politicians should not just add on more taxes every time someone finds a new "crisis". You should not hike fees to fund your little pet projects. And don't say that isn't what this is about, because that monstrosity of a proposal the voters of this state rejected emphatically and overwhelmingly last spring was full of that *ahem* crap. And what will we find in this new bill of yours?
Instead, you should learn to do what the people of this State have to do every time you politico's dream up some new project and get your buddies to vote to increase the budget to fund it: TIGHTEN YOUR BELTS! Go over your budgets and get rid of expenditures that aren't necessary to continue to function. (Sorry honey, we just can't take that vacation to Cancun this year. The roof is leaking and we need to replace it.) Reduce expenses you can't get rid of (If we start using our wood stove more and turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees, we can save a ton on our gas bill this winter. Then we can afford to register our cars and get our license plates this year).
Those are the things that people out here in the real world do when there are really important things to do that need to be funded. Because we can't just go and force our employer to increase our wages 40% to cover that new roof, or give us a 20% hourly increase to pay our heat bill this winter. We have to make do with what we already have.
So I say Bravo to you stubbornly resistant conservative Senators! You are doing the right thing for the right reasons, and you are listening to the 80% majority of voters in this State who said NO NEW TAXES so emphatically last spring. We certainly did understand what the politicos wanted, and we rejected it soundly. As you should continue to do.