It’s going to take actual leadership to fill all of these Snyderholes
Anyone driving in Michigan these days knows that this is an epic year for potholes. The frightening part about it is that the daytime thawing followed by nighttime freezing that is the most significant contributor to potholes is only just now underway. If you think things are bad now, hang on to your seatbelts, kids. We’re just getting started and it’s not going to be pretty. Local municipalities, budgets depleted by the removal of historic snow levels, are now faced with having to repair damaged roads on a continuous basis. A road that’s fine one day features yawning chasms the next day that bend rims, blowout tires, and do all sorts of other damage to our cars. In fact, the cost of bad roads for the average driver is well over $300 a year:
Driving on rough roads costs the average Detroit urban area motorist $536 annually in extra vehicle operating costs, while the average driver in the Grand Rapids urban area loses $327 each year as a result of driving on deteriorated roads. In the Lansing urban area, the average motorist loses $305 annually due to driving on rough roads.
It’s gotten so bad that an astonishing array of different groups has banded together to demand lawmakers fix our roads. They have a website called JustFixTheRoads.com. The Michigan Association for Justice has set up a website called FixYourRide.org where you can report vehicle damage for reimbursement by the state. “We are trying to provide an easy place for drivers to report a pothole, get information on how to get money from the state if they qualify, and let the legislature know their frustration with the current road situation,” said Steve Pontoni, Director of Communications at MAJ.
In the midst of all of this, Governor Snyder and his pals in the state legislature are talking about cutting the state income tax and giving tax rebates to Michigan residents. Under the Governor’s proposal, the average rebate would be $79. Reducing the income tax will give you another token amount in exchange for your vote but, as is usual, it will benefit the wealthiest residents more than those at the bottom of the economic ladder:
Several Democrats disagreed, including state Rep. Jim Townsend of Royal Oak, who argued that an income tax rate reduction would provide a larger benefit to wealthy residents who were not directly impacted by the elimination or reduction of various tax credits in 2011.
A single parent with two children earning $22,000 a year lost about $350 in tax credits in recent years, according to Townsend, and would see only $20 in savings under the proposed income tax rate reduction. Meanwhile, a single taxpayer making $500,000 a year would save about $992 in taxes in 2016.
This barely comes close to filling in the huge hole left in Michigan family budgets when Republicans ended a wide variety of tax cuts for low and middle class families in 2011. In fact, on average, families pay an additional $1,300 a year because of it.
But now, in an election year, Republicans including Rick Snyder want to buy your vote with a teeny tiny rebate that doesn’t even begin to cover the amount you’ll spend repairing damage to your car from our crumbling roads. Because of his lack of leadership, the Michigan Democratic Party has taken to calling our 2014 crop of potholes “Snyderholes”. In fact, they have set up a website, Snyderholes.com, where you can report potholes and upload your own photos.
You’ll also start seeing Snyderhole signs popping up around the state to warn you of particularly bad spots and to remind you of our governor’s lack of leadership in fixing this serious problem.
“Instead of fixing our roads, Republican Gov. Snyder handed out a $1.8 billion tax giveaway to corporations and CEOs – taking money away that could be better used to fix our crumbling infrastructure,” said MDP Chair Lon Johnson in a statement. “Michigan spends the least amount per person on our roads and bridges in the entire country. Our crumbling roads and bridges are a direct result of Republicans’ failure to invest in fixing our infrastructure.”
Photo courtesy of the Michigan Democratic Party, see more images HERE
Johnson went on to say, “Because of Republicans’ failure to fix this problem year after year, the average Michigander is already paying a Snyderhole tax – $357 every year in unnecessary auto repairs.”
Talking about tax breaks in the middle of this real crisis is Republican pandering at its most ludicrous. Don’t let them fool you and don’t allow them to buy your vote. The amount we all pay for our disintegrating roads will far outstrip the paltry amount they think your vote is worth.
All photos by Anne C. Savage