Skubick: Following the talks to fix the roads

If you told your kids they were in line for a hefty allowance hike, they'd be happy as clams. But if you told them it was linked to the boss maybe giving you a raise next year, even a five-year old would conclude that your if-come may be a no-come.

Pretend that House Republicans are your parents, and $700 million of their $1.05 billion road fix is predicated on "economic growth." Economic growth is the anticipated increase in state revenue based on the economy getting stronger.

Democrats (the kids) contend, "relying on imagined future revenue growth is not a long-term solution." Or, as West Michigan Democrat Rep. Brandon Dillon labeled it, "'less of a plan than a prayer." And then there is Senator Curtis who just called it, "a joke."

Not to worry, counters House GOP Speaker Kevin Cotter, who professes the $700 million growth figure was not only "very realistic" but "we can do it." And on top of that he would not have to cut other state services to get there if the growth flops.

Critics, however, point to what they call GAAP, or generally accepted accounting practices. If you are a respectable bean-counter, you are loathed to predicate any budget on revenue that may or may not materialize.  

So, you gotta wonder if anybody whispered in the Speaker's ear that maybe he should not do this? If nobody did, you could make the case for adding somebody to his staff who would, or if somebody did and he ignored it, well what does that say about his fiscal compass .

Give the House Rs credit, they now have a skin in the game or a "starting point" as Mr. Cotter pointed out. Their rob Peter to pay Paul approach eliminates the film tax credit and state aid to needy families.

Democrats didn't think much of that either, calling it a tax increase on middle class families and "paving the roads on the backs of poor people."

And then there is the math. The governor is telling anyone who would listen that $1.2 billion a year is needed to fix the roads. The GOP plan falls short. It raises$1.05 billion over four years or about $3 billion less than what the governor wants.

Most of the Houser GOP caucus are standing by their man saying he is proving you can fix the roads without a tax increase, but the Speaker is not taking a tax hike off the table, although he is loathed to go there. But if that "economic growth" thing goes south, the Speaker may not have no other choice.
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