Snyder's sales tax plan hits road blocks

Jan 31, 2015

Michigan drivers have been dealing with potholes for months. Now Gov. Rick Snyder's plan to fix the roads is hitting some obstacles of its own.
Credit Peter Ito / Flickr

This week, Jack Lessenbery and Zoe Clark discuss some consequences of governing under a deadline. Gov. Rick Snyder’s 11th hour plan to fix Michigan’s infrastructure won support from legislators last month, but this week, the measure is hitting some potholes.

First blow

The governor’s plan to fix the roads came in just under the wire in lame duck, winning support from both houses of Congress. Now the measure’s details are facing some criticism.

Anderson Economic Group CEO Patrick Anderson said his analysis shows the plan could cost taxpayers $100 million more in federal income taxes.

Though there’s still more than three months before voters decide its fate, Lessenberry said the measure probably won’t pass.

“I call this [plan] governing out of cowardice,” he said. “The Legislature was unwilling to raise our taxes to fix the roads, so they asked us to do it ourselves.”

Jumping ship

Soon after Anderson’s economic analysis made headlines, the large lobbying firm leading the effort to get the roads measure passed this May backed out.

Bi-partisan lobbying group Truscott Rossman said creative differences with the governor led to their abrupt departure.

Lessenberry thinks there’s more to it than that.

“I’m a little suspicious they didn’t want to be on the losing side of something,” Lessenberry said. “It’s not good for a firm like that to throw their energies into something that’s a loser.”

Hat trick

In what appears to be a trifecta of bad news for the road funding plan, new poll data this week shows likely 2016 voters aren’t thrilled with the measure.

46% of voters polled said they would vote “yes” on the proposal. That number dropped to 38% once they learned more of the plan’s details.

Many experts say that number needs to be closer to 60% heading into Election Day for a ballot measure to pass.

Lessenberry said don’t hold your breath.

“It’s very hard for me to see how they’re going to get to that point unless they promise to everybody $100 or a free puppy if they come to the polls,” he said.

-Rebecca Kruth, Michigan Radio Newsroom