Childish Michigan Republicans Withhold Money And Refuse To Repair Roads In Democratic Districts

pothole

Had enough of potholes lately? This might be of interest.

According to a story in Crains Detroit Business, at the end of March, Republicans in the Michigan state legislature are keeping a tight fist on road repair funds in Democratic districts, intentionally punishing Democrats for voting against Republican legislation that earmarked funding for road repair.

In other words, the Michigan GOP have painted Democrats into a corner and said, “Vote for our legislation or let your roads fall to mess.” Keeping up the roads in Michigan is a tough enough chore in a typical year, let alone one that follows such a harsh winter as last, and under a shrinking infrastructure to boot.

Despite the fact that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) plays a large role in assessing road damages and costs, millions of dollars of funding are awarded separately by legislatures each year, playing a large role in the range and effectiveness of MDOTs project capabilities from year to year. It is within that arena, that theater or studio (to continue the metaphor) that Michigan Republicans do their painting, taking lessons from George W. Bush, no doubt.

And just as the person painting is most often the one holding the paintbrush, state Republicans have mastered just the right strokes to garner a strong favorable lean toward their legislation by earmarking those desperately needed road repair funds within their own jurisdictions. Insisting on their usual tactic, Democrats must, as usual, acquiesce to Republican demands for little scraps of Democratic progress.

In an era when many Americans are beginning to doubt the integrity of even the Democratic Party, this blatant partisan favoritism on behalf of Michigan Republicans is as inconsiderate and disrespectful of Michigan citizens as Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal and should serve as an alarm bell that those elected to serve the citizens’ best interests are actually serving something else entirely. Democracy must be safeguarded — when a snake’s in the grass, all the birds must sing.

Of 108 projects approved by Gov. Rick Snyder and his GOP rat pack, according to a Michigan Department of Transportation project list, 87 were requested by Republican legislatures yet only two were requested by Democrats. But why would Democrats only make two?

It turns out that Democrats actually submitted about 100 requests for road projects, but they were rejected because Democrats declined support of Republican legislation where funding for road repair had been earmarked.

Twice just last year GOP lawmakers allocated “special funding” for road repair projects under their own control. The first time, both parties in the Senate were notified of the window to request projects but House Democrats were excluded from participation.

Why? According to deputy press secretary for House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) Anna Heaton:

They weren’t welcomed into the discussion because they didn’t vote for the funding.

According to press secretary for the House Democratic Caucus Katie Carey, Democrats voted against the $115 million special funding (which had been included in the overall state budget) because it lacked funding for the expansion of Medicaid, cut revenue sharing and other various issues, not because they were against funding road repair. In fact, consider how strong the conviction of Democrats who voted against the legislation must have been knowing they would take one on the chin over the terrible state of the roads that would result from allowing themselves to be painted in a political corner like that.

As a result, not one House Democrat’s road project was approved last year. Of the 59 House Republicans who requested road projects in that same time, 45 had at least one approved. There is little difference in the Senate, where 15 out of 26 Republicans had projects approved as compared to two Democrats.

Gov. Rick Snyder and his nerdy marauders are a flashpoint for the disintegration of democracy — from the Emergency Manager Law to Snyder’s secret funding┬áto their attempt at auctioning off Detroit’s artwork and flexing their pallid economic muscles with road repair. Anyone who lives in Michigan knows the crucial importance of MDOTs funding.

Let us hope Michigan Democrats remember this November, from the politicians to the legislatures to the people, that it’s never too late to bust out the turpentine and clear a new path forward. In the meantime, perhaps it would be fun to flood the Michigan Republican Party with car repair bills and civil suits.