League Wins Big with Defeat of Props 5, 6

Posted on November 7, 2012 by Dene Westbrook

Before election day, the Michigan Municipal League weighed in on two of the ballot proposals: Proposal 5 and Proposal 6.

Proposal 5, as you probably know by now, would require a 2/3 supermajority of votes in the Legisalture to pass bills that increase taxes.  Or, put another way, would allow a 1/3 superminority of legislators (13 Senators) to prevent any major tax policy changes. The League was part of a very broad coalition of groups and organizations committed to defeating this ballot initiative, which was funded mostly by Matty Maroun (owner of the Ambassador Bridge…see below).  The League’s Arnold Weinfeld was actively involved in the strategy and actions taken to defeat this. Governor Snyder and Mayor Bernero (a Republican and a Democrat) were in a video together calling for its defeat. And I was honored to be part of a second video that showed a University of Michigan alum along with an MSU alum together advocating for defeat.  There was an aggressive media and grassroots campaign, and the individual groups each let their members know of the danger of this ballot initiative. Governor Snyder said that the tax changes that were made last year would not have been possible if this were in law. In fact, no major tax policy change would be possible with this in law. Other states that have this have not seen success.

Fortunately, the voters of Michigan saw through the rhetoric on this ballot initiative and strongly defeated it on a 61-39% margin. This was a significant win for the League, the many organizations throughout the state that participated in the coalition (businesses, labor, local government, and others).

Proposal 6 would have required a statewide vote of the citizens on any international bridge project. This ballot initiative was frought with propblems from the beginning. It was paid for by Matt Maroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, because he was upset that the Governor and Canadian governments agreed to create a second bridge crossing. This new bridge crossing is paid for by the Canadian government and would be repaid with tolls from the bridge. The campaign, as you definitely know, had a ton of misinformnatkion. Allegations were made that the bridge would take Michgan tax dollars away from police and fire, edication, and many other services. Allegations were also made that the steel would be foreign steel (which is technically true because the Canadians were producing it and paying for it). And many other allegations.  There were also technical problems with this initiative, as the term “international bridge” was defined as all bridges in the state and could have required a statewide vote for a bridge in any community to be fixed. If you are a voted, you received a ton of brochures in the mail, saw the commercials on your television, and heard about this on your radio every day for the last few months. The Maroun family spent more than $32 million on this ballot initiative alone.  The League opposed this initiative as well.

Again, the people of Michigan saw through the ads and mail and voted against this ballot initiative on a 60-40% vote.

All-in-all, a good day for the League!

Andy Schor is the Assistant Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. Contact him at (517) 908-0300 or by email at [email protected].

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