Why state’s road funding plan should change
Michigan governor’s just love to talk about “One Michigan.” It’s the grandiose notion that we are all united and in this thing together.
If you have resided in this state for longer than a day, you know that we are geographically and philosophy divided. East vs. west. North vs. south. The U.P. vs. everybody else, and don’t even begin to measure the division when it comes to MSU vs. you know who.
Hence it should come as no shock that looming in the 2020 legislative year is an issue that would divide us even more.
Namely who gets the lion’s share of road fix dollars.
Currently under Act 51, the road money distribution formula, outstate Michigan, with fewer drivers and fewer roads, gets a huge chunk of the road dollars according to the critics from regions of the state with more roads and more drivers. The formula also pays for road miles and not lane miles. That is to say, if there are 30 miles of roads in an outstate county and 30 freeway miles in Detroit, Detroit does not get anymore than the outstate folks.
Enter Macomb County, Sen. Pete Lucido shouting, “That’s unfair.” He is on a crusade to take on outstate lawmakers, who are unwilling to give up one thin dime to help all those poor slobs living below U.S. 10.
Mr. Lucido says they don’t have to give up anything because his proposal is to let each county collect car registration fees and then keep every thin dime from that in their county. If adopted there would be a bundle of thin dimes to dish out. Oakland County would reap an additional $168 million; Wayne County $173 million, and for his own county, Macomb gets $68 million.
But to do this, he needs votes, and it’s not a slam dunk.
However, he already has Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on record supporting the concept of sending road dollars to those areas with the most traffic and that is not Alpena, Leelenau County or even Greenville.
Last year after he pitched the idea to her, she suggested that if new revenue was raised, it should bypass Act 51 and be earmarked for more populated regions of the state. Of course, new revenue was not raised and so the bypass never passed.
But Mr. Lucido now has a pledge from a key senate Democratic leader to provide all 16 Democrat votes on this proposal and if Mr. Lucido can cobble together just three GOP votes, he can pass this thing.
The bombastic Mr. Lucido also needs the blessing of the senate GOP leader Mike Shirkey and it’s unclear if he is a yeah or a nay.
If Mr. Shirkey, for whatever reason says no, that could kill the Lucido gambit in its tracks.
So is the Macomb County lawmaker ready to do battle with his leader?
“I gotta do what I gotta do for my people that I serve,” he retorts.
“You are ready to take on the GOP leader on this?”
“I have to take my votes by way of getting them and I will not sacrifice what I came to Lansing to do. Do a job instead of getting a job.”
Them sounds like fighting words, if you’ll pardon the sloppy English.
Let’s hear it for One Michigan!