Michigan’s roads aren’t the only thing in a state of crisis. Here in Michigan, our public school teachers’ pension plan is currently underfunded by about $40 billion, requiring huge annual investment just to keep up and ensure teachers receive their retirement benefits.
As the public demands that every tax dollar they pay at the pump go to fund road repairs, policymakers are left with a dilemma. Today, roughly $540 million in sales tax paid at the pump doesn’t go to roads – it goes to the school aid fund to help pay for those teacher pensions.
This column originally appeared in the Detroit News.
State lawmakers deserve no small measure of credit for their deliberate approach to improving the state’s crumbling infrastructure, in particular their determination to find solutions that solve the road funding problem without gouging taxpayers.
Their efforts stand in stark contrast to the economically devastating approach favored by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – a new and regressive 45 cent per gallon gas tax hike, opposed by 75% of state voters, and so deeply unpopular even among Democrats that not a single member of the governor’s own party has been willing to sponsor a bill to put her proposal before the legislature.
Corporate welfare – using your tax dollars to subsidize Michigan businesses in the name of creating jobs – is not a new idea. But it is a terrible idea.
Michigan tried to go Hollywood in 2008 with $500 million in film subsidies… and that flopped harder than “The Love Guru.” No permanent jobs were created, and film studios bolted as soon as the taxpayer-funded handouts dried up.