Skubick: Key Dems still undecided on the sales tax vote

When the Democrats last year had the GOP governor over the barrel, they secured from him state spending that would go into traditionally Democratic programs. The governor made the deals because he needed their votes to pass the sales tax ballot proposal. It was a rare win for the Ds. Rare.

Former senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer and current house Democratic leader Tim Greimel took a victory lap noting that the "deal" was not perfect but everyone celebrated the bi-partisan agreement.

Little did the Ds know that their deal would be greeted with so many cold shoulders in their own ranks.

Remember $700 million is going to schools, to needy families and local governments if the sales tax is boosted.

But recently at the state Democratic convention it was like a Simon and Garfunkel concert i.e. the sound of silence. Nary a word was peeped about voting yes on the sales tax hike even though Democratic constituencies would benefit from the yes vote.

Then the other day newly elected democratic U.S. Senator Gary Peters waltzed into town.

So Mr. newly elected senator, how are you voting?

Instead of a yes, he punted. "I'm studying the plan," he launched into a mini speech on all the lousy aspects of raising the sales tax and how there was a severe "lack of leadership" on the governor and legislature's behalf for not solving the road mess on their own. Sitting on the fence, he confessed he was "leaning no."

Enter stage right, a local mayor whose city would benefit from an influx of new dollars and better local streets.

So Mr. Angriest mayor in America, how are you voting?

"I'm really torn about it," lamented Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. On on the one hand he wants to fix the roads but on the other, "do I agree with something that is against working people that cuts into the middle class at a time when people are hurt enough?" Referencing, of course, the regressive nature of a sales tax hike.

What's the poor mayor to do?

"I'm solidly undecided," he reveals. This from a guy who is not gun-shy about wading into any controversy.  

And then this poignant observation from his honor: "If guys like me on the front line to fix the roads are undecided, what does that say for the average Michigander? I can't believe they are that enthused about the ballot question?

And to add more grief for the GOP governor.  Sixty-eight percent of the delegates to the state GOP convention last weekend opposed the sales tax which is probably why the governor's guy didn't force a vote on it. Can you say "embarrassment?"

Ya think?

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