Swift: Vote yes on Prop 1, fix the roads

Karla Swift

Michigan voters will face an important decision on the May 5 ballot that will have a major impact on our economy for all Michigan families and businesses. Proposition 1 is a critical initiative that will make our roads safer and create thousands of good middle class jobs for Michigan families. That’s why the Michigan AFL-CIO has endorsed the Safe Roads Yes campaign, and is urging voters to vote Yes on Prop 1.

America’s modern transportation infrastructure was born right here in Michigan, and has served our state for generations. But while our highways and bridges were once the envy of the nation, we have neglected these economic assets for far too long. In fact, Michigan invests less per capita when it comes to transportation than any state in the country. Ohio, a state with a similar climate and road system, invests more than $1 billion more in its roads each year than we do. Waiting longer to fix our roads will only cost us more. For every $1 invested in maintaining our roads and bridges, we save at least $6 in future reconstruction costs. That’s why this is such a smart long-term investment for Michigan taxpayers.

Proposition 1 is our last best chance to turn things around and get safer roads. It provides the money we need to make driving safer for everyone. Furthermore, Proposition 1 will also provide needed funding for our schools and community colleges — investments in future generations that will help our kids compete for good-paying jobs of the future.

This important proposal includes several key protections for Michigan taxpayers by:

■ Ensuring every penny in state taxes we pay at the pump is guaranteed to go to transportation infrastructure. We can put an end to the shell game played by the politicians in Lansing that shifts gas taxes to non-transportation purposes.

■ Dedicating additional revenue specifically for children in Pre-K through 12th grade, as well as community colleges. It also guarantees that fixing our roads won’t be paid for by cutting education — which is exactly what some extreme members of the Legislature are pushing for if this measure doesn’t pass.

■ Requiring road builders to provide guarantees in the form of warranties on the roads they build. If the roads are not built right, the road builders — not taxpayers — will pay for the repairs.

It’s not every day that business and labor organizations agree on major economic issues, but when it comes to fixing our roads and creating jobs, this is an area where it’s easy to find common ground — because everyone benefits from safer roads. And that’s why the Michigan AFL-CIO is strongly urging Michigan voters to vote Yes on Proposition 1.

Karla Swift is president of the Michigan AFL-CIO.

Labor Voices

Labor Voices columns are written on a rotating basis by United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift and Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook.