Politics & Prejudices
UAW fails in Chattanooga
Farewell, union; farewell, roads.
Published: February 18, 2014
Hopefully, the union’s next president won’t be its last.
You may recall me yammering a few weeks ago about the condition of our roads — and our lovely legislators, who refuse to do anything to fix them.
Now comes concrete proof (no pun intended) of why things are so bad. Michigan spends far less, per person, than any other state in the union. This is true despite our terrible winters and the fact that our roads were already old.
According to a report by the state Senate Fiscal Agency, we spend only $154 per person on our roads. That’s about half the national average. The next cheapest state, Colorado, spends $201. Granted, this was based on four-year-old census data …
But as far as I can tell from the policies we’ve been following, Michigan may have slipped even further behind. Even Indiana, a state we used to think of as backward, was spending $289 per person; Ohio $214.
The Detroit News asked the head of the House Transportation committee, state Rep. Wayne Schmidt, about this. Schmidt, a Traverse City Republican, said, “Everybody wants good roads but nobody wants to pay for it.”
That’s what passes for profound thinking in Lansing. Then there’s state Sen. “Pothole” Pat Colbeck of Canton.
Pothole Pat wrote a famous column last year saying that we didn’t need to raise any taxes to fix the roads. How would he do it? Well, for starters, he’d wait two years. In the meantime, he’d take all the state’s reserves and pay off debt.
That, Pat thinks, would free up $833 million for the roads, if we have any roads left.
Meanwhile, he would lease billboard spaces on our highway bridges. Somehow, besides making our entire state an unsightly parody of Atlantic City or Las Vegas, he thinks that would raise $460 million a year in advertising revenue.
He would also do the same thing at all Michigan Secretary of State branch offices, and — oh, yes — privatize the state parks.
Anyone wonder now why our state is falling apart, and why we’re failing to maintain public property for the common good? As far as I know, there is no U.S. Census data that could determine which state has the stupidest legislators.
But I’d just bet my last axle that we wouldn’t finish last.
> Email Jack Lessenberry