Might A ‘Details Later’ Road Funding Approach Work?

Editor's Note: Nobody wants to face a government shutdown scenario – not Gov. Gretchen WHITMER, not the GOP legislative leaders. The Governor wants the legislature to tackle both the state budget and road funding ASAP. The legislature wants to focus on getting the budget finished by Oct. 1 and work out the road funding dilemma afterwards. That means there’s the potential for an awkward impasse.

It’s possible, however, that Republican lawmakers prefer reaching an accommodation with Whitmer, rather than high-handedly sending her budget bills and – essentially – daring her to veto them. If so, finding middle ground could be desirable. A general road funding agreement – with details to be added later – might make life easier for both sides. Today, MIRS asked a panel of political pundits if such an approach would work, as we close in on the 5 ½ - week push toward Oct. 1.

MIRS also asked the pundits three additional questions, including their views on the political impact of L. Brooks PATTERSON’s passing.

Q – Would announcing a general agreement between legislative Republicans and Gov. Whitmer on a road funding plan be enough to allow the budget to be finished by Oct 1, and the Legislature to tackle the actual nuts and bolts of the plan afterwards?

T.J. BUCHOLZ, president of Vanguard Public Affairs, said he’s not feeling optimistic about prospects for bipartisan cooperation in the days ahead. “I continue to be concerned that these budget games being played by Senate and House Republicans are all designed to force Governor Whitmer to accept a terrible deal,” Bucholz said. “I think they are underestimating her sophistication and if they try to slip a fast ball by her, she may elect to dig her heels in and fight past the deadline. It wouldn’t surprise me to see her administration threaten to close government if they don’t get an equitable deal for segments of Michigan important to Democrats. I also think every day we wait, the more the people of Michigan will suffer.”

Q – How will the passing of L. Brooks Patterson impact Michigan politics?

Bucholz suggested things might improve “For all of Patterson’s Oakland County legacy, his tone at times has contributed negatively to the partisan tone the public loathes in its government," Bucholz said. “I think Mr. Patterson was a divisive figure who reveled in dogwhistle phrases designed to whip up his base. I’m hopeful the next Oakland County Executive will work harder at inclusiveness and bringing people together rather than a personal agenda with the wrong kind of roots.”

Q – If the Republicans manage to gut Proposal 2 (the “bipartisan” redistricting commission) in the courts - will large numbers of voters turn against them in 2020?

“I don’t think so,” Bucholz said. “Voters are so focused on races up the ticket this cycle that bipartisan redistricting won’t be on the minds of the average voter. The only way to keep this issue top of mind is for the pro-redistricting groups to raise and spend money on television to remind voters of its importance.”

Q. Would someone jumping into the Democratic Presidential race just prior to the Iowa caucuses potentially be a smart move on the basis that many voters might respond positively to a fresh face by that time?

Bucholz asserts that only one person could do it, and she isn’t going to run. “The successful candidate who jumps in just prior to Iowa would have to be someone in Democratic circles with higher name identification than the rest of the field and an ability to fundraise quickly,” Bucholz said. “For me, the only Democrat that fits that bill is someone like former First Lady Michelle OBAMA She’s said repeatedly she won’t run for the White House, so I think Dems are set with the field they have. If she ran, she’d win.”

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