Just a few short weeks after Michigan’s announcement that the upkeep of public systems is on its short list, this “state government core function” is already under attack
“Roadwork Axed” read the front page of the Detroit News today. The following article detailed the Thursday cancelation of 137 road projects by the Michigan Department of Transportation. The total cut comes to $740 million dollars.
Whats worse is the roadwork would have been funded largely with matching funds from the federal government. Michigan only needs to come up with 20% of the funding for road projects, the remaing 80% being paid from Washington. A loss of gas tax revenues and vehical registration fees has been blamed for the shortcoming.
MDOT Director Kirk Steudle called for a gas tax increase in his June 2nd appearance before the joint House and Senate Transportation Committee, but was immediatly reprimanded by State Representative Tim Moore who stated that,
Michigan drivers cannot afford a gas tax increase right now, and it’s ridiculous to say that. People in my area aren’t buying $4 coffee drinks, they need that money and whatever else they can scrape together to put whole meals on the table.
Rather than increase taxes the government needs to stop blaming taxpayers and look for better ways to obtain and utilize funds. It should look at how under 15 years of Proposal A public schools have seen their base funding grow faster than inflation, and taxpayers have seen their propery taxes cut significantly.
The government also needs to realize what it has commited itself to. Identifying the upkeep of public systems as a core function means the state will have to give it priority over other nonessential tasks, many of which to government should not be involved in anyway. Mackinac Center analyst Jack McHugh has already detailed how the state can save $2.2 billion if it would get creative and stop appeasing special interest groups. The government needs to show taxpayers that it means what it says and that priorities are priorities.
Adam Rule – MCPP Intern