ROADS/BRIDGES: Michigan voters soundly defeat complex measure aimed at aiding road, bridge work

Only 20% approve Prop 1, which would have generated over a billion annually for transportation

May 06, 2015

In perhaps one of the largest ballot defeats in Michigan history, voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 1, a sales tax increase that would have generated over $1 billion annually for road and bridge construction. Only 20% approved the measure.

“While voters didn’t support this particular proposal, we know they want action taken to maintain and improve our roads and bridges,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. “The ‘relentless’ part of relentless positive action means that we start anew to find a comprehensive, long-term solution to this problem. Doing nothing isn’t an option as the costs are too great.”

Michigan still faces a $1.3 billion shortfall to make needed road and bridge improvements, and lawmakers are now talking about redirecting funds from other programs to help pay for the necessary infrastructure repairs.

Part of the problem with Proposition 1 was it was too complex. The measure also included vehicle registration fee increases and called for more money for education, local governments and a tax credit for the poor. Safe Roads Yes campaign spokesman Roger Martin said when supporters of the plan went out to show residents what it was all about it took 15 minutes of explanation to understand what it was designed to do.

“The message here tonight clearly is: Voters are willing to pay more for roads, but they want a simple, straightforward solution that the legislature approves, not the voters,” Martin said.