Candidate question: How are you going to pay for it?
Terrific column by editorial page editor of The Detroit News Nolan Finley entitled Where’s the damn money?. Finley writes:
Pithy slogans won’t fill a single pothole. Nor will shirking from the reality that the state’s decades-long neglect of its infrastructure can only be fixed through either steep spending cuts elsewhere or significant tax increases. Keep that in mind when assessing the plans from the two candidates battling to become Michigan’s next governor. Neither Bill Schuette nor Gretchen Whitmer has offered a credible solution for meeting Michigan’s most urgent challenge.
Finley continues: “The only responsible approach is to establish a dedicated revenue stream for infrastructure work.”
Paying for a world class 21st Century infrastructure should be a state economic growth priority. As should be paying for a world class 21st Century education system from birth through college. We need to insist that not talking about how to pay for improving education and infrastructure––which nearly all candidates tell us they want––is no longer acceptable in our political campaigns.
In a previous post we suggested that in any setting where you are involved in talking with candidates that you make sure that two of the questions are:
- Numerous bi-partisan commissions and reports recommend transforming education to develop 21st Century skills––far beyond what is on standardized tests––in all children and invest billions more annually in education from birth through college. What specifically will you do to implement and pay for these recommendations?
- Numerous bi-partisan commissions and reports recommend investing billions more annually for Michigan to have the infrastructure necessary to compete in a 21st Century economy. How would you pay for these recommendations?
In our first ever state policy agenda report we write:
So yes, to implement our recommendations will almost certainly require state taxes/revenue to be higher than it is today. But we think that what that revenue can purchase has the best chance of obtaining a higher standard of living for all Michiganders.
That said raising taxes is not our goal. It is a means to making the kind of public investments we think are essential to the goal of good-paying careers for all Michiganders. Getting to the goal is what is important. We are open to any and all ideas on how achieve the goal.
It’s hard to imagine how Michigan gets world class infrastructure and education without candidates running on and winning on how they are going to pay for them. We need to make it hard for candidates not to answer Finley’s where is the damn money question.