What Can We Learn from the May 5 Election?

One of the things we should pay attention to in the results of Michigan’s May 5 election: The people of Michigan are entirely capable of overriding the broad bi-partisan agreement of Michigan’s Republican and Democrat professional politicians by voting it down – big time; 4 “NO” for every “YES.”

The pre-election advertising promised to fix the roads. The actual complex plan was not going to be especially effective in doing that. The new tax money was going too many other places for too many other purposes. If fixing Michigan’s roads is the actual purpose, it’s not hard to come up with a plan to do that.

To start with, there should be no new roads and no new lanes on existing roads until existing roads are in good repair. In other words, focus on using the money you have to fix roads until the job is done.

For repair and repaving, require high grade concrete and construction materials and methods so that the repairs should last for 30 years. This will save money in the long run.

Stop destroying roads and bridges with absurdly high weight limits for trucks. Set Michigan weight limits equal to other states with better roads, and enforce those limits.

Stop destroying roads and bridges by applying corrosive salt in the winter. Salt cuts the life of roads in half, and there are alternative materials. The alternatives may cost more, but construction costs will be less. Again, that saves money in the long run. Less salt also means less corrosion on cars and trucks and less pollution of land and water around the roads. That’s a substantial benefit which does not show up on any road commission budget.

Support creating a system of public transportation. Replace dozens of cars with one bus and dozens of buses with rails to reduce both the burden on the roads and the burden on people to drive themselves on every errand and to every job.

Set taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel adequate to pay for the entire policy. If those who use the roads pay for the roads, that’s tough but fair.

It’s not hard to come up with a plan. What’s hard – and necessary – is to elect officials at every level of government who will write the laws and enforce the policies needed. The current batch of elected and appointed officials are not fixing the roads because fixing the roads (and serving the people of Michigan in other ways) is not actually their priority. The late Proposition 1 proves that.

Our vote on 2015’s proposed constitutional amendment shows that Michigan’s current crop of Republican and Democrat “leaders” are thoroughly out of touch with the will of the people of Michigan. They are leading a small minority of wealthy contributors, but not the overwhelming majority of voters. We need to get rid of them in a wholesale fashion.