Michigan Lieutenant Governor Calley Slapped Down At Senate Appropriations: Transportation Cmte Meeting
I saw it billed as a presentation by the Department on the proposed New International Trade Crossing. I tuned in on Michigan Senate TV to watch the presentation. It never happened. In fact, if one blinked, then one would have missed the entire Committee meeting. It did not last very long.
If the Governerd wanted an indication of how Michigan Republican Legislators might feel about him cutting them off at the knees with his SOS speech and his support of DRIC, the Senate meeting gave him the clearest indication possible.
The Committee Chair, Senator Pappageorge made it absolutely clear that his Committee was only going to deal with “budget” matters and was not going to get into the policy issue of a second bridge to Canada. That was the job of another Senate Committee. It made the Lieutenant Governor’s visit and that of his entourage to make a presentation a waste of time. SLAP!
It was interesting to me that the Lieutenant Governor started out in his remarks by saying that the Canadian money “could” be used for federal matching grants. What a weak word to use but in the circumstances, it is all that he could say. So much for the “unique agreement!”
Of course it “could” be used assuming of course that Canada decides to provide any money at all since their offer letter is legally unenforceable and that a DRIC bridge actually gets built. Moreover, no federal matching grants can be obtained until such time as money will actually be spent.
That leaves a $600M budget hole that has to be filled.
I believe that someone mentioned that the Ambassador Bridge Company had $268 million available now because money had already been spent. However, the question was raised again whether or not this money actually could be used.
One wonders why no one calls the Bridge Company’s bluff and tries to get the federal matching grants. But again, if MDOT did that and got the money, where would Canada be then?
I found it very interesting that the Senator asked what happens if the DRIC bridge is never built. He said he would be dealing with a “pretend” budget. DOUBLE SLAP!
In the end, the Senator said that if he has to make a choice today between the Ambassador Bridge’s money and that of DRIC that might come sometime in the future, if ever, then he would choose for the Budget Appropriation the Ambassador Bridge money without prejudice of course to the DRIC bridge. TRIPLE SLAP!
I was also fascinated by the question that was asked of the Lieutenant Governor about what the backup position was in the event that DRIC was never approved. In other words, how would the State get federal matching grants?
The answer was a shock to me. The Department would make cuts elsewhere to make it happen. For example, summer road maintenance programs would be cut back. It would be unfair to taxpayers to make them pay money for maintenance, he said, when there was the DRIC alternative available. I wonder why he did not mention that it would be just as unfair not to use the Bridge Company money since it was made available without any condition.
Of course, the Lieutenant Governor stated that all issues could be simply dealt with if only the Legislators passed the P3/DRIC Bill. That has to be the sales pitch to help out the Governerd from the dilemma he created for himself. Who cares if DRIC is good or bad, save the Republican Governor!
The amazing part to me was that there was no recognition by the Governerd’s appointee to the Meeting that Ambassador Bridge money could be used and could be used now. It was not mentioned even as a backup to the backup.
What financially troubled State is there that would turn down that kind of money. Who wouldn’t grab it? Which Government Department would work its hardest NOT to accept money for State use and to find every excuse for not doing so? Is the world mad?
For whatever reason, the Bridge Company’s money is not wanted. It is not wanted because then there would be no need for a DRIC Bridge. It seems that the Governerd, just like breathless Jenny before him, doesn’t care about taxpayers when there is an agenda of Canada that needs to be fulfilled.
So the games continue, taxpayers are being prejudiced, and so far at least the Republicans are remaining consistent to their position in the last term.
Pity the Lieutenant Governor who has been put into the position where he must try to convince his colleagues to pass something that he himself opposed only a few months before. What a job!