The failure of the NITC bill last week in Senate leaves many questions about just how costly hardline partisanship might be to Michigan voters.
Last Thursday, the bi-partisan agreement to substitute new language into the Senate bill 410 for the New International Trade Crossing to relieve the congestion on Michigan’s border with Canada in Detroit, went down in smoke in a 3-2 vote against it. Three Republicans on the Senate Economic Development Committee voted against it, two voted for it and the two Democrats, metro-Detroit’s Sen. Tupac Hunter and Virgil Smith, passed from voting.
knotmove.com caught up with Democratic Caucus press secretary Robert McCann on Monday, who said that the city of Detroit could lose thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in increased tax revenues. In a city, such as Detroit, pressed for economic relief, the cost of not passing the bill could be higher than lawmakers can pay. According to the Census, the once flourishing Detroit population has dwindled to 713,777. A blow such as the one laid down by the failure of the NITC could be crippling to the city’s chances of rebounding and, as Calle Collins, Hunter’s chief of staff, said Tuesday, “When Detroit hurts, the state of Michigan hurts.”
McCann said the Dems believed the agreement was well bolstered by the private and public sector. “[SB 410] was supported by every major business group,” McCann asserted. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardsville had even made arguments supporting the effort, but the GOP committee members, in the majority there, first adjourned the meeting Wednesday without voting at all, to the chagrin of the committee’s Democrats. The next day, the Republicans refused to correct the language of the bill and it was promptly voted down.
Smith and Hunter passed, or, in other words, didn’t vote at all, because they had started the week believing they had come to an understanding that the bill would be amended to address environmental protections, traffic concerns, and noise for the area surrounding the bridge. According to McCann, the Republicans reneged on their agreement to include the new language. Now, Collins said, “discussions have definitely slowed.” She did not know when discussions will pick back up.
Detroit resident Montgomery Montell, a project manager at energy provider DTE, said he believed the bridge would be constructed regardless of the NITC passing in the Legislature. “Whether it’s the government or Matty Maroun, somebody will build [the new bridge],” he remarked. Certainly, not just the city of Detroit, but the whole state will be waiting with crossed fingers.