Political insider: Interest groups back Prop 1 tax hike
Interest groups came out of the woodwork Wednesday to throw their support behind Proposal 1, the May 5 statewide road-funding measure that also would increase the 6 percent sales tax to 7 percent.
Press releases came flooding in from the Sierra Club, Michigan AFL-CIO as well as a dozen sheriffs from across Michigan who were recruited by Safe Roads Yes! campaign. The campaign planned a Thursday morning event with Gov. Rick Snyder, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and other southeast Michigan leaders to promote the proposal whose approval would trigger a $1.2 billion increase in annual road and bridge repair funding by 2017.
"While we haven't always agreed with the governor's administration, this is an issue where it's easy to find common ground, because our affiliates believe everyone benefits from safer roads," AFL-CIO President Karla Swift said in a Wednesday statement after meeting with Snyder. "Moving forward, the Michigan AFL-CIO will work to educate voters across the state about why they should vote Yes on Proposal 1."
The Sierra Club, another Democratic Party ally that has had its differences with the Republican governor, also climbed aboard the Proposal 1 train. In this case, the environmental group likes the $115 million in additional annual funding earmarked for public transportation that would be triggered by the ballot measure's approval.
"Proposal 1 provides essential funding for Michigan's public transportation needs that have long been neglected," said David Holtz, chairman of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee. "This complex proposal may not be ideal, but it is a bipartisan compromise that will increase financial support for transportation while not harming schools, cities and other important environmental priorities. If it fails, all of these will be put at risk."
The Michigan Sheriffs' Association joined the coalition by arguing Proposal 1 protects law enforcement.
"Proposal 1 is not just about safe roads to protect motorists, it's also about getting safer roads to protect law enforcement officers as we try to do our jobs," said Terry Jungel, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs' Association. "It's simply dangerous for police officers to drive on bad roads."
Gov. Rick Snyder wants Michiganians to help him meet the state's future energy needs by cutting back on how much they use. His ambitious goal in the next decade is for home and business and factory owners to improve their energy efficiency, or reduce energy waste as he terms it, by about 15 percent.
How? One way would be to invest in something like the new app he has on his hand-held device, Snyder said. It feeds him information about the energy his Ann Arbor home is using wherever he goes.
"I know minute to minute how much energy I'm using in my home," he told the audience last week at his special message on energy at an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training center in Warren, adding that anybody can get the app for themselves.
"I'm driving my family nuts telling them to turn things off, trying to save 5 percent in the last week," he also confessed.
Contributors: Richard Burr and Gary Heinlein