Getting into the nitty gritty of the road-fix plan

Let's have a show of hands. Everyone who read the headlines that the legislature passed a $1.2 billion road fix plan, raise your hands. Now did you dive into the body of the story to flesh out the details?

The swooshing sound you just heard are hands coming down all over the place and that's just what the Republicans want.

Popular wisdom is the Rs don't want you to review the whole story because that would include major gripes from Democrats who don't much like what the governor and his party did.

"This doesn't fix the roads," is the unified Democratic message.

"The governor caved in to pressure from conservatives" as the Ds acuse him of lacking any backbone or as the House Democratic leader put it, "The governor was so eager and desperate to check the box and get something that he'll sign anything and that's disappointing." Rep. Tim Greimel from Oakland County.

The Senate Democratic leader is equally uncharitable to Gov. Road Fix.

"Time after time again he said he stood for $1.2 billion long term. Instead he gets a package of garbage on his desk and he folds up and signs it." Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint) remembers the governor's flip-flop on Right to Work no doubt.

And the Democrats have a laundry list of other gripes including taking money out of the state's check book to the tune of $600 million which they are convinced will mean fewer dollars for schools, public safety and health. The governor denies that but until future lawmakers actually make the cuts, no one can say who is right.

So given all this, you begin to realize why the Rs prefer that you stick with the headline because that leaves a positive image in your head which benefits that party.

In the messaging game, the win clearly goes to the Republicans. All they have to repeat and repeat is, "We fixed the roads" and leave it at that.

The challenge for the Democrats is they have to explain why this is a bad deal and everyone knows once you have to explain, the typical citizen gets lost, tunes out, or just doesn't get it.

For example when the D's argue the governor is taking money out of the General Fund, some of the uninformed might ask, "Who was General Fund and what does he have to do with the roads?"

Get the point on trying to mold an-anti road message that will stick.

The governor's leadership has been questioned in town.  Recall over three years ago he started the bidding at $1.2 billion each year for ten years.

Even though you see the figure $1.2 billion in the headlines, the GOP plan does not get to that number until the year 2021.

Did the governor bend?


Yet he explains it is a compromise and that is not a naughty word.

"This will lead to better and safer roads in our state and we do it in a fiscally responsible way…This is a good strong package and this has a good outcome."

Asked if he was ready to take whatever he could get, he retorted, "You said that."

Much more will be said about what lawmakers and the governor did including the fact that to cover their political behinds, the critics argue,  Republicans delayed the collection of a higher gas tax and car registration fee until 2017 which is conviently right after the 2016 election when house members are trying to hold onto their seats.

The critics go on that delaying tactic was designed to make sure you weren't paying the higher taxes until after you vote.

The Rs counter they did it to slowly phase in the road money to be fiscally responsible.

So the war of words will drag on as the Ds hope you get past the headlines and the Rs hope you don't.