Dear Michigan Business Owner/Leader,
We have prepared a communication kit for you to use to raise employee awareness about Proposal 1, the May 5th statewide ballot measure to fund our roads and transportation needs. Timing of your outreach to employees is very important provided absentee ballot voting has started and May 5th is just around the corner.
The preferred plan of communication would be through employee meetings followed up by a letter/email to the employees a week before the May 5th vote. Depending on the timing of your employee meetings we suggest that you notify your employees ASAP that you are posting information regarding the transportation proposal on your website or if you have an in-house employee information screen, post it there. We have included the following resources to help you communicate with your employees via posts to your website, social media outlets (see sample posts on page 10) and in employee meetings:
- Two 1/2-minute informational video – click here
- Two-minute advocacy video (Vote Yes on Prop 1) – click here
- Framing document/talking points
- Frequently asked questions
- Draft letter/email you can use to share with your employees a week ahead of May 5
- Sample social media posts
- List of Proposal 1 supporters
In addition, we have attached a brief PowerPoint presentation that you can use when communicating with your executive team and/or in employee meetings:
Thank you again for joining the coalition. Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns or require additional materials.
Communications Kit for Employers
Framing the Problem and the Solution
We have a very strong story to tell, and compelling visuals to help us tell it convincingly. As you prepare to communicate with your members, friends, family, colleagues and co-workers, the news media, and regular voters, here is the basic narrative:
We’ve all done it: we’ve swerved to avoid a deep pothole. Most of the time nothing happens. But sometimes we end up in the ditch, or hitting another car. Someday someone will swerve and hit a school bus, or an ambulance. Or a pothole will send a driver careening into oncoming traffic – or a tree.
We’ve all seen it: the plywood fastened underneath overpasses to keep chunks of concrete from falling on our heads. Someday a chunk will fall off a bridge without plywood, or whole portions of a bridge will collapse.
Let’s face it: Michigan’s roads and bridges have gone from bumpy, to bad, to awful, to dangerous − maybe even deadly. We can’t pretend there isn’t a problem anymore, or that we currently have the cash to fix it.
Proposal 1 is our last best chance to turn things around and get safer roads. It provides the money we need to make driving safer for everyone. And the best part of Proposal 1 is that it gives taxpayers three strong guarantees:
- Every penny in state taxes we pay at the pump is guaranteed to go to transportation. No longer will Lansing be able to divert taxes paid on gas to non-transportation purposes.
- Every penny in the School Aid Fund is guaranteed in the constitution to fund education where it helps our kids the most: our K-12 schools and community colleges. No more shell games with education funding.
- And taxpayers even get guarantees from the road builders. Road builders would have to provide guarantees in the form of warranties on the roads they build. If the roads are not built right, the road builders — not taxpayers — will pay for the repairs.
No one likes their taxes to go up, but we can all agree that we don’t want our bridges to fall down or our streets and highways to become unusable. Vote Yes on Proposal 1 to once and for all guarantee funding for safer roads. There is no Plan B coming from our politicians.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Two Toughest Questions …
Isn’t this is a special interest money grab because it sends money to a bunch of places other than roads?
The agencies responsible for educating our children, making our roads safe and keeping our drinking water safe and clean, are not special interests. Proposal 1 is supported by Michigan sheriffs, police officers, police chiefs, firefighters, some of the state’s top business organizations and leaders, ambulance drivers, and more. They provide the essential services we all demand as Michigan residents and taxpayers. It also provides for an increase in the earned income tax credit, which goes only to low-income working taxpayers, to offset the regressive nature of the sales tax.
What do you say to those who argue there is already enough money in the state budget to fix the roads?
The answer is simple. No, there is not. Ask Gov. Rick Snyder. Ask Republican Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Republican House Speaker Kevin Cotter, two of the Legislature’s most respected and conservative members. They will tell you: The money is not there. Even former Speaker Jase Bolger, who tried to find the money with cuts in but couldn’t convince the Legislature in 2014 to pursue his plan, is supporting a YES vote on Proposal 1.
$52 billion is a big number, and that’s the size of the entire state budget. But the vast majority of that amount (about $42 billion) is already constitutionally or legally required to be used for some other purpose. The Legislature can control only about $10 billion of the state’s budget. Michigan now spends less per resident on roads than any other state. Let me say that again: Michigan is now dead last in per-capita funding for roads. We’ve neglected our roads and bridges, and we’ve let the politicians send road taxes away from roads and transportation. This proposal solves two problems: it guarantees funds for safer Michigan roads by guaranteeing that every penny we pay in state fuel taxes goes to transportation. This proposal is not perfect … nothing from Lansing ever is. But it’s our last chance to fix Michigan’s roads for years if not decades and to end the road tax shell game in Lansing.
Other Frequently Asked Questions …
What is the current condition of Michigan roads?
Awful – and they’re getting worse. Thirty-eight percent of Michigan’s state- and locally-owned urban roads and 32 percent of the state’s state- and locally-owned rural roads are in poor condition, according to the national transportation research group TRIP.
Want to see how bad Michigan’s roads are? Just take a drive – and you’ll see! The roads aren’t just “bad.” They were bad 10 years ago. Now the condition of many of our roads and bridges is simply dangerous. Just take a look — and you’ll see!
Can’t we just fix Michigan’s roads and bridges with existing state money?
No. The state doesn’t have the money to fix Michigan’s roads and bridges today without drastically cutting essential funding for our local communities, schools and public safety officers. And let’s face it: our local communities, schools and public safety sustained massive budget cuts during Michigan’s decade-long recession. Ask Gov. Rick Snyder. Ask Republican Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Republican House Speaker Kevin Cotter, two of the Legislature’s most respected and conservative members. They will tell you: The money is not there.
Michigan invests less per capita in transportation than any state in all of America. We simply can’t fix our roads without raising more revenue. Ohio – a state with a similar climate and road system to Michigan – invests more than $1 billion more in its roads each year than Michigan does.
Waiting longer to fix Michigan’s roads will only cost us all more. For every $1 invested in maintaining our roads and bridges, we save at least $6 in reconstruction costs. Fixing this problem now will save money later. We lose nearly $3 million daily and over $1 billion annually in the value of the state’s transportation system
When was the last time Michigan raised taxes to pay for roads?
The last time Michigan raised taxes to pay for roads was 1997. Eighteen years later, it’s time for Michigan to modernize how it pays for roads and finally fix them. Proposal 1 not only modernizes our road funding system, it guarantees in our constitution that every penny we pay at the pump in fuel taxes must go to transportation. It ends the Lansing shell game of diverting taxes paid on gasoline away from roads and transportation to someplace else in the state budget.
Aren’t heavy trucks the reason for Michigan’s bad roads?
No; this is a common myth. If it was the case, roads outside of heavy shipping corridors like I-94 and I-96 would be in good condition – but we know that is not the case.
The Michigan Department of Transportation has thoroughly studied this issue, and has found that the most important factor when it comes to truck weight is the amount of weight distributed on each truck axle.
Reducing truck weight limits could cause more damage to Michigan’s road system, since more trucks would be needed on the road (also increasing traffic congestion and raising safety concerns). Other states are considering adopting truck axle weight laws like Michigan’s.
What does Proposal 1 do?
Proposal 1 is the only opportunity we will have to guarantee funding for safe roads. Voting YES on Proposal 1 on May 5 means that every penny we pay in state taxes on gasoline must go to roads, bridges and transportation. No longer will Lansing be able to divert state gas taxes to some other place in the budget. It also requires road builders to warranty the roads they build. If they violate the warranty, the road builder — not taxpayers — will pay to fix the problem. All this means finally having safer roads in Michigan.
Again: to protect taxpayers, Proposal 1 would ensure that the gas taxes we pay must be used only for transportation and can’t be spent on non-transportation purposes. To replace the revenue local communities and schools would lose from the sales tax on gas, the proposal would increase the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to be used by schools and local communities for other essential services such as safe buses, safe and clean drinking water, and more.
How will this proposal promote public safety?
Fixing our roads will make them safer by repairing dangerous potholes and improving roadway design. Today, many drivers swerve to avoid dangerous potholes or lose control of their vehicles as a result of flat tires. According to TRIP, a national transportation research organization, roadway design is a contributing factor in about one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
Between 2008 and 2012, 4,620 people died in Michigan car accidents – an average of 924 fatalities per year. 
How much will this cost me?
Fixing this problem now will save money later – both for the state, and for individual Michigan motorists. A January 2013 study by the Michigan Department of Transportation titled “State Transportation Investment Comparison” found that Michigan ranks first for annual individual repair costs to registered drivers, at $357 per driver.
Michigan also ranks first (tied with Ohio) in total statewide annual repair costs. Michigan drivers spend over $84 per year more in repair costs than the average of the five comparison states.
Michigan drivers even spend as much as $132 per year more in repair costs than neighboring Indiana.
Safer and better roads will cut down on motorists’ vehicle repair bills – not to mention reducing the risk of car accidents.
Michigan’s sales tax rate would be the same as neighboring Indiana (7 percent) if this proposal passes, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. A 7 percent sales tax would be ranked 21st in the country.
What guarantees are in Proposal 1 improve Michigan’s road funding system for taxpayers?
This proposal has three guarantees:
1. The proposal would guarantee, for the first time, that every penny we pay in state fuel taxes goes to transportation. No longer will Lansing be able to spend taxes paid on gas on non-transportation purposes.
2. The proposal would guarantee that all state and local government road construction projects include pavement warranties. County, city and village road agencies will be required to submit warranty programs to the Michigan Department of Transportation for approval.
- This proposal requires road builders to provide their own guarantees in the form of warranties on the roads they build. If the roads aren’t built right, the road builders will pay for the repairs, not taxpayers.
Which roads will be fixed?
Local, county and state governments have inventories of projects they haven’t been able to fund. The result: poor, unsafe and crumbling roads, and bridges with plywood preventing concrete chunks from falling onto the roads. Contact your local road commission or the Michigan Department of Transportation for more information about road projects in your area.
Will this proposal hurt the poor?
No. This proposal is supported by organizations like the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP), Michigan’s Children and others because it also would restore the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which means a significant tax cut for working poor families. The MLPP estimates that more than 1 million Michigan children are in families that will benefit from Passage of Proposal 1. The EITC targets low-income working families with temporary assistance to remain in the workforce and get back on their feet. President Reagan once called the EITC “the best antipoverty, the best pro-family, the best job-creation measure ever to come out of Congress.” Here’s what the MLPP is saying about Proposal 1:
“A ‘yes’ vote on May 5 would end the era of delaying needed road repairs or paying for them with borrowed dollars. All with a penny sales tax increase. The sales tax increase to 7 cents will put Michigan in the middle of the pack of states — the same as Indiana’s.
“For working families earning the least in Michigan, the penny tax will be offset by a full restoration of the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal credit.
“The EITC is the best tool we have to reward work and lift families from poverty. More than 1 million Michigan children will benefit. What a win-win!”
Facts & Figures
How much does Michigan pay per capita for roads compared to neighboring states? How much do we pay to repair our vehicles on average compared to other states as a result of bad roads?
|State||Investment in Roads Per Capita||Annual Repair Cost Avg.|
SOURCE: www.tripnet.org (extra vehicle repair and operating costs due to driving on roads in need of repair), Census 2010
Is it true that Michigan would have the highest sales tax in the country if this passed?
No – not at all. Michigan’s sales tax rate would be the same as neighboring Indiana (7 percent) if this proposal passes, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. A 7 percent sales tax would be ranked 21st in the country when it comes to average state and local sales tax rates.
|State||State & Average Local Sales Tax Rate|
|Michigan (if Proposal 1 passes)||7%|
Employer letter to employees
You don’t have to drive very far to see that Michigan’s roads and bridges are crumbling and unsafe. About a third of our roads are considered in poor condition right now. Nearly 30 percent of the state’s bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement; 15 percent have been deemed functionally obsolete.
On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, we all have an important decision to make about how we pay to build and maintain our roads in Michigan.
Our roads have gone for bad to dangerous. Fire fighters are fearful of driving their trucks fast on poor roads, concerned about damaging their expensive vehicles, which effects critical response time to emergencies. School bus drivers express concern about the children in their vehicles. We have plywood under bridges to keep concrete from falling off, and chunks of roadway are peppering windshields, sometimes crashing through and endangering drivers and passengers.
Poor roads also affect businesses. We have to adjust delivery schedules, and budget more for repairs. Having good roads is vital to our company’s success.
Proposal 1 is our last best chance to turn things around and get safer roads. Raising the sales tax a penny on the dollar provides the money we need to make driving safer for everyone. And the best part of Proposal 1 is that it gives taxpayers three strong guarantees:
- Every penny you pay at the pump in state taxes will go to transportation.
- All dollars in the school aid fund will go K-12 schools and community colleges.
- Roads will be better built because of stronger warranties that require construction companies to stand behind their work, at the state and local level.
Please consider voting YES on it May 5. You will join a long list of supporters: law enforcement and first responder organizations, business and labor groups, education, agriculture and many more. It’s not a perfect solution, but it is the only solution after years of discussion and debate. If Proposal 1 doesn’t pass, we are stuck with dangerous roads for years to come.
Facebook, Twitter Posts
Here are Facebook posts and Tweets to help your employees learn more about Proposal 1.
ASSIGNMENT: Please post to your Facebook page and tweet as you feel appropriate.
Sample Facebook posts:
- Michigan’s roads and bridges are in bad shape. Thirty-eight percent of Michigan’s urban roads and 32 percent of the state’s rural roads are in poor condition, according to the national transportation research group TRIP. Learn more about Proposal 1 to fix Michigan’s dangerous roads and bridges at SafeRoadsYes.com. #SafeRoadsYES
- 27% of Michigan bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement, and 15% have been deemed functionally obsolete, according to the national transportation research group TRIP. Learn more about Proposal 1 to fix Michigan’s dangerous roads and bridges at SafeRoadsYes.com. #SafeRoadsYES
- 13% of Michigan’s major roads and highways have payments in poor condition. Learn more about Proposal 1 to fix Michigan’s dangerous roads and bridges at SafeRoadsYes.com. #SafeRoadsYES
- Proposal 1 is the only chance we have to make our roads better. There is no plan B. Learn more at saferoadsyes.com. #SafeRoadsYES.
Sample Twitter posts:
- Learn more about Proposal 1 to fix #Mi’s dangerous roads and bridges at SafeRoadsYes.com#SafeRoadsYES
- 27% of #Mi bridges are in need of repairs, improvement or replacement. Learn more at SafeRoadsYes.com. #SafeRoadsYES
- 15% of #Mi bridges are functionally obsolete, according to TRIP reports. Learn more at SafeRoadsYes.com #SafeRoadsYES
- #Mi police officers + firefighters support Prop 1, as they are on the front lines of safety. Learn more at SafeRoadsYes.com #SafeRoadsYES
- A third of Michigan’s roads are in poor condition. Time to fix that. Vote yes on Proposal 1. #SafeRoadsYes
- Why are business groups coming on board for Proposal 1? There is no plan B. More at www.SafeRoadsYes.com #SafeRoadsYES.
Don’t forget to also like, comment and share content from
Safe Roads Yes’ social channels: fb.com/SafeRoadsYes and @SafeRoadsYES
Campaign Contact Information
Lori Wortz, WWP Strategies
- Office/Mobile: (517) 488-6299
- Email: Lori@wwpstrategies.com
Roger Martin, APR, Martin Waymire
- Office: (517) 485-6600
- Mobile: (517) 290-2330
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
 TRIP, News Release, 12/3/14: http://www.tripnet.org/docs/Michigan_TRIP_News_Release_12-03-14.pdf
 Michigan Department of Transportation; 2010 U.S. Census Data.
 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and The Road Information Project. (2009). “Rough Roads Ahead: Fix Them Now or Pay for It Later.” http://roughroads.transportation.org/
 TRIP, Michigan Transportation by the Numbers, January 2014: http://www.tripnet.org/docs/MI_Transportation_By_The_Numbers_TRIP_Report_Jan_2014.pdf
 TRIP, Michigan Transportation by the Numbers, January 2014: http://www.tripnet.org/docs/MI_Transportation_By_The_Numbers_TRIP_Report_Jan_2014.pdf
 Tax Foundation, State and Local Sales Tax Rates in 2014, March 18, 2014: http://taxfoundation.org/article/state-and-local-sales-tax-rates-2014