Note: The Detroit News doesn't archive their stories, so if you're going to read the article you should do so quickly.
Starting with the local Mirror weekly and commented earlier here, local democrats are promoting taxes for projects without a policy or a plan. Unidentified Mass Transit (UMT). The perfect tax. In the computer business it's called vaporware.
Monday [April 10] night, the city of Ferndale passed a resolution urging state legislators to place a question that could improve Michigan's transportation system on November's statewide ballot."Today, the Detroit News is reporting our own state senator, Gilda Jacobs, is lobbying to increase Oakland County's sales tax -- 'cause we need higher taxes.
"State Sen. Gilda Jacobs, D-Huntington Woods, said she'll ask lawmakers this month to authorize a referendum to change the state Constitution so counties would have the option of raising the state's 6 percent sales tax to 7 percent to pay for regional transportation and roads.The state already found $600 million to widen 18 miles of I-75 through Oakland County. Widening I-75 won't lessen Michigan's gas consumption or urban sprawl. Considering the state already has the ability and resources to attempt highway projects why not the vision and resolve for mass transit?
"It's much more palpable, and it's not that much more money," Jacobs said. "We need to keep this discussion going to improve the quality of life and help the economy."
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson declared it dead on arrival and said Oakland won't raise taxes for transit."Thank goodness there's some adult supervision in government. Why would Oakland or any other Michigan county vote to put itself at an economic disadvantage compared to other nearby counties?
Ferndale's own city manager, Tom Barwin, supports the tax and wants us to believe it's as much about job creation as it some unidentified mass transit plan:
"If we let the people weigh in, we have a chance to get this done," Barwin said. "We've got no leadership and the politicians have been blocking the public from deciding if it wants better transit."If we let people weigh in they'd tell politicians to stop wasting money widening highways and come up with a plan. If we had leadership in Lansing they'd use the existing gas tax formula to fund mass-transit.
Barwin pointed to studies claiming the taxes -- and eventual construction of a light rail system -- would create at least 10,000 jobs a year.
Mass transit starts with a plan, not a tax. Michigan citizens shouldn't allow their taxes to be raised for UMTs. If gas prices continue to rise Michigan citizens may eventually get serious about mass transit and insist on a serious plan from Lansing. $3/gallon isn't nearly high enough to take action or motivate residents living 20 or more miles away from work to act differently. Most residents will figure out how to afford their commutes. Perhaps what needed more than high gas prices is LA-style traffic jams. People rarely move toward comfort, but most move away from pain, and long commutes and gas prices aren't yet painful enough.
Until then it's wishful thinking, but let's not let wishful thinking become a very real tax.