Officials gather to support Proposal 1

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. (left) listens as Gov. Rick Snyder explains the importance of Proposal 1 for Michigan roads and safety. Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton and Walbridge Chairman and CEO John Rakolta show their support at a news conference at Dearborn Fire Station No. 2 March 19.

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. (left) listens as Gov. Rick Snyder explains the importance of Proposal 1 for Michigan roads and safety. Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton and Walbridge Chairman and CEO John Rakolta show their support at a news conference at Dearborn Fire Station No. 2 March 19.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN —The discussion on Michigan’s roads was the main topic during a March 19 news conference supporting Proposal 1.

Officials and leaders from across the state gathered at Dearborn Fire Station No. 2 to urge the public to vote yes on Proposal 1 during the May 5 election.

If passed, the proposal seeks a 1 percent increase in retail sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent.

Also, the proposal will eliminate the sales tax from fuel to create a permanent tax solely for funding roads to the fuel price.
With the sales tax increase, the proposal is projected to raise $1.2 billion in new transportation money each year.

The proposal is planned to increase the amount of use tax dedicated to the School Aid Fund and expand the use of the fund to community colleges and career, technical education as well.

A 2013 Michigan Department of Transportation study found that Michigan has the highest annual individual vehicle repair costs at $357 per driver compared to five other Great Lakes states.

The focus at the news conference was more on the crumbling road conditions and how they affect law enforcement and first responders as well as everyday drivers.

Each speaker agreed that the proposal was designed as a solution for the poor Michigan road conditions.
Gov. Rick Snyder emphasized the growing safety concerns with the current road conditions.

“This is long overdue,” he said. “The option of doing nothing is the most terrible option. Is it easy to vote for a tax increase? Absolutely not. Your inclination is to say no. Common sense, though, says yes.”

Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said commuters do not have a viable alternative to driving.

“When we look at metropolitan Detroit, there is no other major community in our nation that has only one choice, driving,” he said. “A majority of our residents have no choice but to get on the roads and I think that means we have to take a much greater care to make those roads safe.”

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans supported the proposal because he views it as the only option now to fix it.
“We know that we have a tremendously neglected road system,” he said. “We know that any attempt to fix it is not going to be perfect. That shouldn’t be the standard. The standard is that we’ve neglected it and this is the time to fix it.”

Fire Chief Joseph Murray agreed that now is the time to act to improve the roads.

“Our response times are a very big concern for us and they are further complicated by having to navigate through pot holes and construction problems in the roads,” he said. “It is very important that we get these road worked on.”

The League of Women Voters of Dearborn/Dearborn Heights will host a session explaining the proposal at 7 p.m. April 20 at Caroline Kennedy Library, 24590 George Street in Dearborn Heights.

For more information on the proposal go to saferoadsyes.com.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at znajm@bewickpublications.com.)

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