This is referred to as “pulling a Chris Christie”
Crains Detroit Business has a bombshell story out this week detailing how Republicans in the state legislature are withholding road repair funds for districts with Democratic representation.
You would think that decisions about road repair would be made by the engineers and other experts at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and, in some cases, you would be correct. However, millions of dollars of funding are done separate from that and are awarded through specific appropriations by the legislature.
[W]hen Republicans carved out a piece of the road budget for special allocation last year, a whole lot more roads in Republican districts benefited.
And that, say House of Representatives leadership, wasn’t an accident.
A project list from the Michigan Department of Transportation shows that of 108 projects approved by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican leaders of the House and Senate, 87 were requested by Republican legislators and only two by Democrats.
Why didn’t the Democrats request more funding? Actually, they did. They submitted about 100 road projects for consideration. They were rejected, however, because they failed to support Republican legislation that included additional road repair funding.
[T]wice in the past year, GOP lawmakers have allocated special funding for road projects that they control.
The first time, Senate members in both parties were notified about the opportunity to request projects, while House Democrats were not allowed to participate.
Anna Heaton, deputy press secretary for House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, said the reason they weren’t allowed was simple.
“They weren’t welcomed into the discussion because they didn’t vote for the funding,” she said.
The $115 million special allocation last year was included in the overall state budget bill, which Democrats voted against. But the vote in opposition to the state budget was for a variety of reasons for different members, including a lack of funding for Medicaid expansion and a cut to revenue sharing, not because it included additional road funding, said Katie Carey, press secretary for the House Democratic Caucus.
The result was that not a single House Democrat had a road project approved last year, while 45 of the 59 House Republicans had at least one approved.
In the Senate, 15 of the 26 Republican senators had a project request approved, compared to two Democrats.
If you needed any further evidence that Michigan Republicans are drunk with power and willing to do anything to maintain that power, even if it means harming Michiganders who live in districts they do not represent, this would be it. And not only did they do it, they are admitting to it, In fact, seem to be gleefully satisfied that it was appropriate.
It’s not only inappropriate, it’s disgraceful. I have to wonder how Republicans living in these majority-Democratic districts feel about it as they wend their way through the slalom course of potholes that are now prevalent everywhere after Republican neglect coupled with a fierce winter. Are they proud of their party now? Safe to say some of them may be having second thoughts.
It appears that New Jersey Chris Christie’s lesson about using government power to punish his enemies is one that has been learned well by Michigan Republicans. Maybe his visit to Michigan a few weeks ago was partly to survey the results of his tutelage.