The Michigan Prop 1 Money Trail — A One-Way Street

The Michigan roads proposal is paved with cash, but it flows in mostly one direction. Regardless of how voters feel about the content of the bipartisan compromise, in the interest of complete transparency, they should additionally know a thing or two about the campaign spending, both for and against the ballot measure.

Prop 1 mailer

Carl Levin comes-a-courting via pricey personalized mailer

In this case, it’s the Prop 1 proponents who enjoy the considerable largess of a broad array of financial backers, leaving opposition spending in the dust. This particular ballot measure is unique in its bipartisan origins, an oddity also reflected by the similarly bipartisan battle lines.

The non-partisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports that those promoting a “yes” vote on the roads measure have outspent the opposition by a factor of over forty-four to one. Safe Roads Yes spent $8,658,349 attempting to persuade voters to approve the ballot question. They were largely bankrolled by MITA — the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, who dropped $5,571,230 on the cause as of April 23rd.

Rich Robinson, director of MCFN, describes the meager opposition landscape:

Three committees that have registered to oppose Proposal 1 have raised a total of $195,527. The Coalition Against Higher Taxes and Special Interest Deals has raised $172,555, of which $161,535 was contributed by Paul Mitchell III, who self-funded $3.56 million while running unsuccessfully in the 4th Congressional District Republican primary in 2014. Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan has raised $12,092. Citizens Against Middle Class Tax Increases has raised $10,880, of which $10,000 was contributed by the political consultant John Yob of Grand Rapids.

Democracy Tree demurs on suggesting how readers should vote, but we certainly encourage folks to get out and have a say tomorrow. Ballot initiatives in off-season elections typically draw lower voter turnout, often attracting those who favor the proposal. Polling on Prop 1 indicates a possible rout, with 61 percent against the proposal. Their reasons for the thumbs-down are: no new taxes, wasteful government spending, and distrust in Michigan’s government.

Even lawmakers, many of whom were responsible for cobbling-together the plan, are loath to weigh-in on it, with only 31 percent responding to an Associated Press survey. Presumably they don’t want to get pegged for its defeat, or victory. A chicken-shit response over a chicken-shit proposal — how apropos.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

MLive provides a calculator to determine how much Prop 1 will cost you.

View all proponent contributors HERE, and opponent contributors HERE — a very short list.


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6 Responses to The Michigan Prop 1 Money Trail — A One-Way Street

  1. Jeff Salisbury says:

    Over 20 years ago and after sitting through and asking questions of the late-State Senator Wm. VanRegenmorter’s “pitch” at Wayland City Hall, I voted against Proposal A. It was a. revenue neutral which meant no NEW money for schools, and b. it picked winners and loser among voters since only select demographics benefited by an actual reduction in taxes, while others saw increases, and c. it also picked winners and losers among school districts. And finally d., it removed local control of school tax revenue acquisition leaving schools forever (seemingly) unable to respond to local needs and wants. I certainly do not see this legislation being any more wise nor fair and so for those reasons and more, as they say on Shark Tank, “I’m out.”

  2. Cheryl Gracie says:

    I am really concerned with how money spent on elections seems to correlate to who gets elected and how that can put pressure on those elected to keep those contributing to their campaigns happy.

    I know how people say we have to overturn Citizens United and put caps on spending. But, is that the only solution. Obtaining a Constitutional Amendment is no small deal and I don’t think it necessarily will solve the problem.

    What is the problem really with spending?

    For me, it is being overwhelmed with propaganda and a large extent misinformation or useless information to the extent I go to the polls confused and lost as to who to vote for.

    So, what if we approached this problem as on of allowing me (a citizen) to avoid the campaign messages if I choose to do so and making it possible for me to find the information I really want to know about?

    What if we were to only allow political advertising at certain times, continuously, (so we could avoid it)? What if we were to allow people to opt out of being contacted by paid solicitors either over the phone, door-to-door, or by computer? What if we were to allow them to opt out of advertisements sent though the mail? This isn’t denying someone the right to spend money to express themselves, this is just asking them to respect the right to privacy of those not wanting to listen.

    And, what if we were to require candidates to post on a web site how they would have voted (or would have signed) the legislation that came up the past year for a vote in the place where they are seeking office. We would of course allow them to say they have no comment. But, I sure would like a web site where I could simply go to learn what candidates would have done, or that they don’t know what they would have done.

    And, why don’t we require political organizations, (or organizations acting politically), to disclose where the money is coming from to pay for their support of a candidate or a proposal.

    I don’t think requiring disclosure would be a violation of the 1st Amendment even under the criteria used to decide Citizens United. In fact, Ginsburg suggested disclosure as a possible way to proceed.

    I don’t think my neighbors in Michigan are idiots just because the laws that are being passed are so horrid to me. But, those laws would sure be a lot easier to accept if I could believe they were made possible by voters who were informed by something other than the overwhelming amount of political misinformation being passed around at election time that is impossible for even the brilliant to sort through.

    Am I alone in wanting information about the past voting records of candidates instead of all the story telling from paid actors and actresses trying to make me feel the candidate is someone I would like to have lunch with and therefore should trust with my vote?

    Enough is enough.

  3. ppk says:

    I will be voting NO on Prop 1. My family can’t afford the increase in the sales tax and the increase in fees and increase in other taxes that aren’t called taxes. Snyder and his cabal of right wing nut jobs can get the money from Devos, the Mackinac Center Loons, and his 1% buddies. They have the money. They have been bleeding this state dry for as long as I can remember so they can dig into their pockets and fix the roads. And it’s bullshit about money to the schools. Whatever money would go to the schools would be then siphoned away by the legislature and Snyder. So I urge everyone I know and anyone who cares about the middle class and working poor to vote NO on this Prop. Michigan deserves better than the crap they are trying to foist on us.

  4. Anna says:

    I just got back home and voted a big NO for this! There are several things that came out about this and I’m very grateful to have had this knowledge. But, I still am asking the question, and still getting no response, What has Snyder done with all the gas tax money since he’s been in office?

    I also feel that with the exorbitant insurance rates I pay to drive about 35 miles a month that the MCCA should be footing a big part of this. When I was injured in an auto accident that has left me with a lifelong disability, where were they? Hiding! I never even knew this BS extortion company existed until about 5years ago! So, the MCCA is going to sit on $18B while I get screwed on another tax? I so think not!

    Get out there! Vote no for your own sake!

  5. Craig Hennigan says:

    I think I’ll be hanging out at the Tree for a while. Certain other lefty bloggers want to insult their readers. Y’all are alright and the “real” progressives.

    • John Merica says:

      Ah…so I wasn’t the only one who got that feeling…

      Thank you for all the time and thought that you put into your pieces, Amy.

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