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Michigan voters reject road funding ballot measure, Proposal 1

May 5, 2015

Credit User _chrisUK / flickr.com

We in Michigan have been talking about fixing our roads for years.

"Just fix the damn roads," was the mantra Michigan lawmakers heard over and over from their constituents.

Now the refrain sounds more like "just don't fix the damn roads this way."

Voters overwhelmingly voted "no" on Proposal 1 - the statewide road funding ballot initiative that would have raised the state's sales tax from 6% to 7% in order to change the way fuel is taxed in Michigan. The changes in fuel tax would have generated new road funding.

See vote tallies here.

Now it's back to the drawing board for Michigan lawmakers.

And political analysts have their doubts as to whether this Legislature – a Legislature that is decidedly more anti-tax than the last one – will find a way to come up with the necessary funds to fix the state's ailing road system - a need experts have pegged at anywhere from $1.8 to $2 billion, and rising.

The state's biggest supporter of the measure, Gov. Rick Snyder, issued the following statement after news of the defeat:

“It’s essential that making Michigan’s infrastructure safer remains a top priority. While voters didn’t support this particular proposal, we know they want action taken to maintain and improve our roads and bridges. The ‘relentless’ part of relentless positive action means that we start anew to find a comprehensive, long-term solution to this problem. Doing nothing isn’t an option as the costs are too great. Michiganders need to be able to get behind the wheel and not worry about dodging potholes or seeing plywood to catch crumbling concrete under overpasses. We appreciate that this bipartisan plan was supported by so many groups – business leaders and unions, public safety officials and local governments, teachers, and the list goes on. I plan to work with my partners in the Legislature on a solution that gives Michigan residents the safe roads they need and deserve and bolsters our growing economy.”

Shortly after the proposal was voted down, politicians and pundits took to their pulpits to tell you exactly what this election result means:

  • a simple message of 'no new taxes';
  • a rejection of the state legislature;
  • a call for more progressive taxation:
  • a failure by Gov. Snyder

There's a message to parse out of this vote for just about every political stripe.

As MLive's Jonathan Oosting tweeted:

However you see it, tonight the "No" campaign in Michigan had a little celebration: