BY MICKEY BLASHFIELD
Published October 24, 2012
Katie Burke’s article on Proposal 6 and the New International Trade Crossings (“Backed by a billionaire, Proposal 6 fights second bridge to Windsor,” 10/23/12) contains several misleading assertions.
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In the article, Burke says, “The measure (Proposal 6) is aimed at stopping a proposed second bridge that will be entirely financed by the Canadian government.” Neither of these claims is correct.
Proposal 6 is not designed to stop the NITC, but rather, to offer citizens a say before their governor entangles them in a shaky financing scheme with a foreign power without legislative approval. Were the proposal to pass, and were Michigan taxpayers to then deem the NITC a worthy use of state resources, the project would proceed.
Second, Michigan taxpayers will pay, and have already paid, for the project. To date, the state has spent $41 million studying the NITC, a new customs plaza will cost U.S. taxpayers (including Michiganders) $263 million, and the state will lose millions in lost tax and toll revenue at existing crossings from which the NITC will cannibalize traffic. In addition, there's nothing in the Crossing Agreement that specifies Canada will cover any cost overruns — which average 61 percent for this type of project according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The article also quotes Business Economics Prof. Thomas Lyon, who asserts the project would bring Michigan an additional $2.2 billion in federal highway matching funds. However, such funds are subject to a state-by-state cap. Michigan has never failed to maximize its state contribution to receive the highest possible amount, so the $2.2 billion doesn’t represent any “new” money the state wouldn’t otherwise receive from the Federal Highway Administration.
Proposal 6 is an opportunity for Michigan taxpayers to assert fiscal self-determination that thus far, the governor has been working to deny.
Director, The People Should Decide Ballot Initiative