Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

93% Are Down On The Damn Roads

05/27/22 09:22 AM By Emily Michienzi

(Source: MIRS.news, Published 05/25/2022) A 93% majority of Michigan voters have an unfavorable impression of Michigan’s roads and 65% of voters give them a poor rating, according to an EPIC-MRA poll of 600 voters taken May 11-17. Another 28% described the roads as “fair,” 6% said they were “pretty good." Zero said they were excellent.

The poll's release was likely designed to draw attention to the industry's desire to show public support for more road funding, but Republicans immediately turned it into a testament on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's inability to live up to her 2018 campaign promise to “fix the damn roads.”


“Her failures continue to pile up,” said Michigan Republican Party spokesperson Gus Portelo.


For the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Agency (MITA), which paid for a survey, the takeaway is a 32% plurality of voters that named improving the state's overall infrastructure as the state's top priority. Controlling crime was second (15%), improving education was third (14%).


Among those asked, 36% said the state should cut spending to pay for the roads, 35% said they were willing to pay higher taxes to improve the roads. Another 12% suggested the state do both.


While 91% of respondents opposed major funding cuts for K-12 schools, the public's appetite for major cuts to colleges, universities and community colleges was split half and half, with 49% opposed to and 48% favoring heavy reductions in state funding.


In today’s press release in response to the EPIC-MRA poll, Rob Coppersmith, executive vice president of MITA, said that “Time and again Michigan voters have said that fixing Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure is a top issue for the state . . . showing that even though we’ve begun to increase our short-term investment in fixing Michigan’s infrastructure, we still have a long way to go.”


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2019 campaign promise was she would “fix the damn roads."


If public preference holds weight in the November gubernatorial elections, the vote could reflect the majority of Michiganders’ belief that the roads have not been fixed during Whitmer’s tenure.


Statewide, concern about crime came in a distant second to infrastructure, but Detroit voters had crime only 1% shy of their concerns about infrastructure at 28% and 29% respectively.


Across the board, voters emphasized that cutting funding for several groups of first responders was a no go. Only 6% of Michiganders surveyed were in strong favor of cuts in the revenue sharing dollars that pay for local police and firefighters. 15% were in favor of the cuts, but a whopping 80% opposed cuts with 62% of them strongly opposing.


Voters recognized that cuts elsewhere in the state budget would be needed if infrastructure and transportation funding was increased. Among them, 41% thought it would be necessary to raise state taxes and/or fees and 33% figured that the state could do it by simply cutting existing state programs and services.


The questions as asked did not give respondents the option of selecting a combination of the two that might would work, but 11% of the respondents volunteered that option rather than selecting one or the other.


EPIC-MRA pollster Bernie Porn said: “as in past surveys . . . the view is almost unanimous that roads and bridges are in terrible condition.


“At first voters are split on whether increased taxes and fees are needed, or increased funding can be provided by budget cuts alone, but after hearing about budget cuts that could be required, support increased for raising taxes and fees, with support for budget cuts dropping,” Porn said.


Voters were also adamant that health care assistance for “low-income women, children, the disabled and senior citizens” should not undergo major funding cuts, with 89% opposing cuts and 77% of those in strong opposition to major decreases in funding.


The top three opposed cuts by registered Democrat voters were K-12 education funding by 98%, healthcare by 97% and revenue sharing that pays for law enforcement at 73%. Republicans’ top three opposed cuts were revenue sharing at 88%, K-12 education by 84% and healthcare at 81%. Republican voters supported higher education cuts by 84% while Democrats opposed those by 68%.


“The results of this poll show the continued need for a long-term, sustainable infrastructure plan from Michigan’s leaders,” Coppersmith said. “I hope Michigan’s leaders will see these results and come together to do what’s needed and pass a long-term infrastructure plan that will put Michigan on the right track.


“Michiganders are fed up with crumbling roads, failing dams, and broken underground infrastructure that leads to flooded roads and basements.”