Tim Skubick: Funding for roads takes a political turn - FOX 32 News Chicago

Tim Skubick: Funding for roads takes a political turn

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LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -

Back to the future.

Many moons ago when it came time to divvy up road building dollars, the good ole boys around the appropriations table (there were no women at the table back then) would pull up a chair, take a drag on their stogies, take a gander at the money pie and proceed to slice out a piece for himself.

It was pork barreling at its worst or best, depending if you got a piece of the pork.

Often times, there was no rational reason for fixing a dilapidated road that was only used by the deer in the Upper Peninsula, for example. But because the Yoopers were smart enough to send the likes of Joe Mack, Rusty Hellman and the Godfather Dominic Jacobetti to Lansing, they got pretty much what they wanted while lawmakers with really bad roads in their districts got squat.

Sure it was grossly unfair, but where is it written politics is always fair?

It's not.

Finally, somebody decided to take this out of politics and let the "experts" draft a spending blueprint based on need and not political suck and indeed MDOT has a plan to do just that.

But, read on.

In attempt to save face with the voters back home and unwilling to cough up a tax hike to get the job done, lawmakers recently swiped $350 million from the state surplus to fix the roads.  Never mind that won't fix much, these same folks also decided that instead of the Department of Transportation "experts" deciding where the funds would end-up, they would decide instead.

Here we go again.

Already the Michigan Department of Transportation director has received legislative requests totaling a billion dollars with only the $350 million on the table.

You can hear the whinning now: Fix my road. No fix mine, To heck with you, I'm in a swing district and could lose my job if you don't fix my battered highway.

What's poor Kurt Steudle to do?

Somewhat foolishly, some would say, he clings to the good government notion that the first round of projects would be based on the MDOT five-year plan.

Mr. Steudle also believes in Santy Claus.

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