Eastern Michigan University held the Statewide Ballot Informative Forum Oct. 9 in the Halle Library Auditorium to answer students’ questions and give details on the plans and development of Proposal 6, which if passed would require voters to approve any new bridge or tunnel from Michigan to Canada. The proposal was filed in response to a suggested new bridge between Detroit and Windsor.
Speakers at the event were Mickey Blashfield, an EMU graduate and director of The People Should Decide, and Brad Williams of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. The two debated their personal views regarding the benefits and disadvantages of financing the bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario in Canada for the New International Trade Crossing.
If passed, the ballot for Proposal 6 will be added to Section 6a of Article III in the 1963 Michigan Constitution. It will restrict any opportunity to use monetary resources for the ownership or development of any “new international bridges or tunnels defined as any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of Jan. 1, 2012.”
Blashfield, who is in favor of the proposal, argued that whether to build the bridge or not should be the people’s decision, not legislatures and public officials, especially Michigan Governor Snyder who said it won’t cost Michigan taxpayers anything.
“The governor has proposed a vision of a new bridge; a bridge that won’t cost tax payers a dime,” Blashfield said. “You already paid $41 million in money that could’ve gone in roads, that could’ve made classroom sizes smaller: $41 million has been spent on a study.”
He went on to discuss Snyder’s proposal to the secretary of state in Washington, D.C. for a $263 million plaza facility, including the loss of $1.2 billion in revenue due to his pending Crossing Agreement for the Ambassador Bridge. The $550 million loan from Canada is starting to build in interest that could potentially put Michigan in debt.
“The $550 million is different than other construction loans because the minute we borrow it, it starts totaling interests. If the cost projections don’t hold true at the 61 percent and higher, the cost of debt will add up between $3.1 to $8.6 billion worth of debt that has to pay back,” Blashfield said.
Williams said the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge has been an asset to the state of Michigan.
He also made a point that Canadian trade is high on the list of priorities for public policy in Michigan. Williams said above taxes, labor, energy and environmental regulation is the Ambassador Bridge, which private sector companies invested $1 billion for its function.
Williams also reiterated the new bridge wouldn’t cost Michigan taxpayers.
“Canada has said, over again in legally binding agreements that they’re responsible for the entire cost of building our connection with I-75 and tollbooths,” Williams said. “This project is the most impactful, economic development project that any of us have seen in our lifetime. It’s going to create 10,000 construction jobs in the short and medium term and it’s going on to support one in eight jobs in southeast Michigan that depend on trade with Canada.”
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