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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shot Of Courage

        If only they could administer a shot of  political courage to lawmakers in this town.
        But alas no drug maker has such a concoction so the head of the chamber of commerce and the former senate GOP leader tried to administer a little verbal medication instead.
        For two years the road-building lobby has been demanding more dollars to repair the crumbling highway system in the state.  The last time lawmakers did that was in 1997 under then GOP Governor John Engler.
        And that's the point Rick Studley from the chamber and Ken Sikkema from a local think tank were making.  It's O.K. for republicans to vote for a gas tax hike and they won't be kicked out of office if they do.
        In fact the trend around the country has been, according to Sikkema, that republican governors and legislators have been leading the way on these revenue hikes.
        "You can survive," Sikkema reassures jittery R's
         Studley applied a little more suave saying there is a difference in a user fee, which a gas tax apparently is, compared to a general tax hike on anything else. And he believes voters understand the difference or do they?
         Therein lies the political dilemma.  If voters treat the gas tax just like any other tax increase, it produces considerable risk for lawmakers running next year.
         And no matter how loud or how long Messrs. Studley and Sikkema try to calm nerves, the medicine may not take…self-survival being what it is.
         Give credit to at least one guy.
         For weeks the governor's office has complained that democrats need republicans to co-sponsor any revenue hike for the roads so that the voter backlash, if any, is bi-partisan.
         Sen. Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac) has raised his hand and will push the bill this fall even though he is running for the house next year.
         There's at least one GOP lawmaker who shows some political courage.
         But is it a contagious disease?


Blogger farlane said...

I don't think courage is contagious. The fact that our reps are constantly running for office acts as an inoculant I think.

You should add a link to your blog on Absolute Michigan, Tim:

August 11, 2009 at 4:58 AM 
Anonymous Paul Algee said...

"User fees" are only "tax hikes" when the Dems pass them and the Repubs & their anti-tax lobby brethren need an issue to demagogue. But when something crops up that is needed (like roads) but also actually has to be paid for, "user fees" aren't so bad after all when the alternative is a wider-ranging tax hike.

September 28, 2009 at 3:14 PM 

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