Dems a no show for road bill; rift in Lansing widens

Christmas came early this year for Gov. Nerd as he signed into law what Republicans are calling a road fix capping off a four year wait for some.

Noticeably absent from the bill signing ceremony in front of a bunch of road building equipment were the Democrats. Maybe the invites got lost in the mail or maybe they were never invited.
It's the latter, not the former, as only two Democrats voted for the gas tax and car registration fee increases as the rest of the Ds voted no.

With no Democrats on the stage it was obviously not a bi-partisan package which the governor had hoped for, but the good government types out there who think everything should be bi-partisan are wondering who is to blame.

Here's what we do know. The two GOP legislative leaders and the two Democratic legislative leaders were making good head-way on reaching an agreement with the governor. There were glowing reports that the so-called quadrant meetings were bearing fruit.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, Senate GOP leader Arlan Meekhof "stormed" out the meeting, walked right by the capitol scribes and left the governor and the other three inside the room.

They continued to talk but later the governor advised the scribes an "impasse" had been reached and, while the two Ds continued to call for more meetings, the dye was cast for a road fix that would exclude the other side.

Turns out the Relentless Positive Action governor is the one who hit the RPA pause button. An insider reports Gov. Rick Snyder came to the conclusion that no deal could be reached and as the insider tells it, it was Rep. Tim Greimel (D) House Leader who contributed to the demise of the talks.

"We were this close," the source confides but Mr. Greimel balked at pouring an income tax rollback into the road fix concrete.

And, so the R story goes, when he would not budge, the governor had no choice but to hope his party could cobble together the votes to get the job done.

Sen. Meekhof and House GOP Speaker Kevin Cotter are shopping the story that the other side never wanted a deal in the first place. Instead they wanted the Republicans to fail and then use that against them in the next round of house elections slated for next year.

The Republicans could hear the commercials already: I'm Democratic Representative (fill in the name) and you should know that Republicans have controlled the government for five years and while they tell you they fixed the roads. They did not. Elect my party and we will get the job done.

Rep. Greimel says "that's false" as he and Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich told the media they wanted to get this resolved.

Mr. Greimel now reports the other side is engaged in the "blame game because they realize what they passed is a terrible plan.  It's awful."

But what about the charge that he's responsible for ending the bi-partisan chit- chat.

He explains he did oppose the income tax rollback and concedes if it had been removed the package, "it would have been easier to do the deal."

But he quickly adds, there were more objections including the tax hikes on middle class families and the pairing of the income tax cut to more budget cuts that would have eventually impacted education, public health and safety.

As for the charge that he raised 11th hour objections in order to scuttle the talks, he pleads not guilty and says the GOP leaders know that.

So as we segue way into the finger pointing segment of this little story, anybody who thinks we are done with the road issue, despite the governor's signature on the bills, think again.