The scene was an MDOT garage. And in walks then Gov. John Engler who takes his place in front of a giant snow plow to announce his support for a four penny hike in the state gasoline tax.
It was historic on two counts. Engler was loathed to support anything that had a "tax increase" label on it and for the money-thirsty road building industry, it was the last time they got a hike in road revenue.
Fast forward to this new legislative year where hope abounds that lawmakers will end the 16 year drought and cough up some new money.
The Michigan Infrastructure Coalition, which is just a fancy smancy name for the road builders and friends, wanted this last year because this year everybody is running for something. But the hopes of 2009 quickly gave way to the reality that senate Republicans were in no mood to raise any tax on anything.
With about a three month window to get something done this year, it has come down to the a numbers game in the state senate. 20 votes are required and each party has agreed to provide ten votes to do it.
It appears the democrats can deliver but word has it, they are three votes short in the slightly more conservative GOP caucus where the leader Mike Bishop concedes the "shape of the roads is dangerous."
Word is the gas tax or some other mechanism may be rolled into the governor's Grand Bargain package of reforms and other tax goodies.
There is consternation in the pro-gas tax camp. On one hand if you are in a bigger Omnibus bill with lots of controversial unrelated items, the whole thing could blow up in smoke.
On the other, allowing a single vote on just the gas tax puts it out there as a sitting duck for everyone to nibble at resulting in defeat anyway.
Either way the road lobby wants the money but so far it has a goose egg and unless three more GOP senators get on board, the lobby will have to continue to live on the fond memories of 1994 when a governor and legislature actually did what the road guys wanted.