Governor gives insight on Prop 1 during Chamber luncheon

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 31, 2015

 Gov. Rick Snyder’s spoke on Prop 1 during the Chamber Alliance of Macomb County’s annual luncheon at MacRay Banquet Center in Harrison Township on March 31.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s spoke on Prop 1 during the Chamber Alliance of Macomb County’s annual luncheon at MacRay Banquet Center in Harrison Township on March 31.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — “It’s about safety. You hit a pothole, you’re at risk. You swerve around a pothole, you’re at risk and others are at risk.”

Michigan’s deteriorating roads, the dangers they pose and how they can be rectified were the premier topic of discussion during Gov. Rick Snyder’s speaking engagement at the Chamber Alliance of Macomb County’s annual luncheon at MacRay Banquet Center in Harrison Township on March 31.

Snyder, who also focused on the importance of skilled trades job training and Macomb County’s leadership in job development, said the May 5 ballot initiative that would increase the state’s sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to provide additional funding to fix bridges and roads is the only real solution to the ongoing problem.

“We simply need to solve the problem,” he said to an audience of local elected officials and business leaders. “Those orange barrels you see popping up at the same place over and over? That’s not because they’re not doing their jobs. It’s because they aren’t fixing the roads; they’re putting on Band-Aids.”

If approved, Proposal 1 would increase the state’s sales tax by 1 percent and eliminate the sales and use tax on vehicle gasoline and diesel fuel for the purpose of increasing transportation infrastructure funding. The measure would affect other vehicle-related fees. Specifically, it would remove the depreciation discount for annual vehicle registration fees and create an annual surcharge for electric vehicle and hybrid vehicles.

In addition, it would increase spending for education and increase the earned income tax credit. The measure, if approved, would dedicate 60 percent of the first 5 percent of the sales tax and an amount equal to 12.3 percent of the first 5 percent of the use tax to the School Aid Fund. Currently, 60 percent of the first 4 percent of the sales tax is earmarked for the fund.

It would also dedicate 15 percent of the first 5 percent of the sales tax to be used for revenue sharing with townships, cities and villages. Currently, 15 percent of the first 4 percent is earmarked for revenue sharing with local governments.

It would also provide for the school aid fund to be used exclusively for aid to “public community colleges, public career and technical education programs, scholarships for students attending either public community colleges or public career and technical education programs.” This removes aid to public institutions of higher education.

The measure would also allow municipalities to finance road projects through competitive bidding, and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 6 percent to 20 percent.

The House Fiscal Agency estimated that the sales tax increase would generate more than $1.6 billion per year, with $1.2 billion going towards roads, $130 million to mass transit, $300 million to the school aid fund and $95 million to local governments.

Snyder reiterated that the proposal isn’t just about fixing the roads Michigan residents and visitors drive on, but the bridges as well.

“Fourteen percent of the bridges in southeast Michigan has plywood or steel mesh on them to keep the concrete from falling on your vehicles,” he said.

He went on to say that Michigan’s roads are comparatively different from roads in other Midwest states.

“Ohio has invested $100 million more on their roads than Michigan,” said Snyder. “And I don’t like to lose to Ohio.”

Snyder also touched on Macomb County’s local defense industry, including Selfridge Air National Guard Base, and the continued importance of pushing the need for more skilled trade training.

Explaining that he has nothing against someone obtaining a university education, Snyder said there are plenty of opportunities available with skilled trade knowledge, and plenty of money to be made. Like during his appearance at last year’s luncheon, Snyder said Michigan schools should emphasize these types of job skills to students.

“Plumbing, being an electrician... these are honorable careers, respectable careers,” he said.

Snyder said that since first taking office in 2011, he had helped create 400,000 private-sector jobs.

“That places us number five in the country,” he said, referring to his Pure Michigan website www.mitalent.org, which helps Michigan residents find jobs and helps businesses find skilled employees. “Michigan’s unemployment rate is under 6 percent; it’s 5.9 percent. That’s the lowest it’s been since 2001.

“We’re on a very positive path and that’s something to be proud of, but we need to keep that up.”

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, who introduced Snyder during the luncheon that was sponsored by the Clinton Township-based company Omega Talent, said the governor has always been passionate about addressing and finding a solution to the state’s, and the county’s, problems.

“In Macomb County, there is absolutely no question that we need that funding for our roads,” said Hackel. 

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