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Kolar: Compromise is Plan B

Dennis G. Kolar

It is approaching three months since Michigan voters rejected Proposal 1, the ill-fated road funding ballot initiative. While the state House and Senate both continue to debate road funding, the arguments taking place sound very reminiscent of the arguments that took place all last year.

Prior to the May 5 Prop. 1 vote, I warned that there was no “plan B” on the shelf that was likely to be quickly implemented if Proposal 1 failed. I take no satisfaction in being proven correct on this point.

As I said prior to the election, there are many ideas floating around in Lansing for how to increase long-term road funding. There are none, though, that have enough support to be quickly implemented.

Unfortunately, that is where we are today. Lots of ideas are flying around in Lansing, but none has enough support yet to move forward.

And while I applaud both the House and Senate for coming up with ideas, the challenge now is to reach agreement on a solution. This will require compromise on all sides.

In the recent past, compromise seems to have been in short supply in Lansing. Now, however, it’s time to come together, find common ground and do “the people’s work” of resolving the road funding crisis.

In years past, the art of compromise was a highly valued skill in the world of politics and a necessity to get things done. Lately, it seems as though partisanship is more important than solving the state’s problems. But we elect our state legislators to solve the difficult challenges, and that often requires compromise, not stubborn partisanship.

I urge our legislators to set aside partisanship and personalities, unmovable ideology and historic biases and embrace partnership, compromise and problem solving to come together and get this done.

Every day that passes without a solution to the road funding crisis hurts Michiganians more. Every day we fall further and further behind in the effort to maintain our roads, and that increases the future cost to restore the system, further erodes our quality of life and further deters investment in our state.

Because this year is more than halfway over, and there is no solution in sight, it’s safe to say that we’ve now lost any possibility of being able to begin to solve the problem in the 2015 construction season. At this rate, we’ll be lucky if we get new funding in 2016 (remember, there is a lag between when legislation is passed and when revenues are collected and can be spent).

We need to solve this problem quickly so we can start to get Michigan’s roads back into shape.

Please join me in urging our Legislature to get this done. Solve Michigan’s road funding crisis now. The cost of doing nothing is way too high for the residents of our state.

Dennis G. Kolar is managing director for the Road Commission for Oakland County.