Kolar: If Prop 1 fails, there is no Plan B
May 5 and the special election for Proposition 1 is just around the corner. One of the comments I keep hearing about the proposal, though, is that we shouldn’t worry if it fails, because the Legislature will simply enact a “plan B” to fund roads.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
The reality is there are countless other ways that we in Michigan could pay to fix our roads. However, unless 56 members of the House of Representatives and 20 members of the Senate vote in favor of a proposal, it’s just an idea or a wish, not a plan. For the last 18 years, since the last gas tax increase in 1997, there has been only one real road-funding bill that has made it through both the House and Senate and landed on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. That’s Prop 1.
For better or for worse, this is the democratic process in action. These are the legislators we elected. And each is making what he or she believes is the best decisions given the situation.
And, yet, they simply have not been able to agree on any road funding plan other than Prop 1. That means there is no bill sitting in Lansing waiting to be signed by the governor if Prop 1 fails. Nor is there likely to be one any time soon.
If it were easy to pass a road-funding bill, the Legislature would have done it over the last couple of years. Nor is there any agreement on which of the numerous alternative road-funding plans is best. In the past, that lack of agreement has repeatedly meant that nothing got done on the issue.
If you are expecting the Legislature to jump into action to enact a plan B proposal if Prop 1 fails, I suspect you may be waiting a lot longer than you think. In the meantime, our roads will continue to deteriorate and the cost to repair them will go up.
Prop. 1 may not be perfect, but it will ensure Michigan’s roads are repaired and that the cost to do so does not continue to grow and get pushed onto the next generation.
So, when someone tells you about a plan B, ask them which legislators support it and then do the math: If they don’t have a majority in both chambers, they don’t have a plan. They have a wish.
Dennis G. Kolar is managing director of the Road Commission for Oakland County.