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