Failing to tackle our roads

Updated: Friday, June 20, 2014
Failing to tackle our roads story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Many Michigan residents were taken by surprise last week when the Michigan Senate failed once again to make a plan to deal with our overwhelmingly bad and ever deteriorating roads.

Even as legislators left Lansing to vacation and campaign, there were reports from around the state of local residents taking it upon themselves to fix potholes in their neighborhoods.

We've seen it happen in Emmett Township.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's time for Michiganders to stand up and be heard.

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To put it as straightforward as I can: the Michigan Senate--long controlled by Republicans--is a chamber of cowardice.

Here we are, in a state that virtually gave birth to the automobile, that put the nation on wheels more than a century ago; and we simply refuse to take on the massive task of fixing what are arguably the worst roads and bridges in the United States.

How embarrassing.

The argument goes that Republicans are either too caught up in an anti-tax manifesto, or are too afraid that conservatives in their districts will vote them out if they raise the gas tax by 25-cents a gallon.

Well, assuming their heads are in fact stuck in the sand, I've got news for them. A road tax is one of the few things people would be willing to pay.

Yes. A new poll last month by the Center for Michigan found that 58 percent of us are willing to pay more at the pump to attack what we--not our Senators--but what "we" think is an urgent priority.

Our Senators obviously have a different view. They've gone on vacation.

Not to suggest there are no Republicans trying to get the ball moving. Governor Snyder has been asking for action from almost the day he was elected.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, who's soon to be term-limited out of office, has been trying to lead a charge. But nobody is following.

Richardville hasn't always been on board, but he is now.

"The Detroit three," he said, "have learned to make better cars. People are working harder and smarter. It's time for state legislators to support a commonsense way to build better, longer-lasting roads. It's time to fix the damn roads."

I can sense the growing anger over the lack of action everywhere I go. If it's a given that our elected officials are afraid to tackle the issue, the case can now be made they should be even more afraid to continue ignoring it.

This is the same bunch who so cleverly headed off a minimum wage ballot proposal a couple of weeks ago to keep voters away from the polls in November. And they did it in one day.

It's time for them to show a little courage now and do a little something for people of all income brackets. If they refuse to budge, I can hear the chant of "throw the bums out" beginning to grow.

We need good roads for our own safety. To protect the investments we make in our cars. For more efficient commerce. For the tourists on whom we so heavily rely for our economy. To help attract business. To make us proud of our state and its infrastructure.

If our legislators fail us... it's time to replace them with a new crew who won't.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on March 04, 2015 08:29 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve and the Institute for Supply Management provide a broad look at the U.S. economy today.

The ISM releases its service sector index for February this morning. Its January report showed growth picking up at services firms. The survey covers businesses that employ 90 percent of the American workforce, including retail, construction, health care and financial services companies.

This afternoon, the Fed releases its latest Beige Book. Last month's survey of business conditions showed all 12 of the Fed's regions reporting "modest" or "moderate" growth. It found rising sales of autos and other consumer products, increased factory production and a pickup in tourism in various parts of the country.

FED-YELLEN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the Federal Reserve has worked hard to correct the mistakes exposed by the 2008 financial crisis.

She says the Fed cannot eliminate the possibility of a future banking crisis. But she says it can make them less likely and less damaging by limiting excessive risk taking and making sure that the nation's biggest banks are better prepared to weather future problems.

She says before the crisis, the Fed focused too much on regulating individual firms and did not pay enough attention to ensuring the stability of the entire financial system.

She says the improvements the Fed has implemented include requiring banks to hold more capital to cushion against losses and testing them annually to see whether they can survive a severe economic downturn.

DEBT LIMIT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Congressional Budget Office says Republicans controlling Congress can probably put off a politically wrenching vote to increase the government's borrowing cap until the fall.

That's even though the government can no longer issue Treasury securities after March 15. Instead, the government will rely on tax season surpluses and accounting maneuvers to keep the government afloat through October or November.

The accounting moves include deferring investments into federal employee retirement funds.

Republicans used the need to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 to impose spending cuts upon President Barack Obama. Obama has since refused to negotiate, which drove GOP leaders a year ago to raise the borrowing cap with mostly Democratic votes.

Without congressional action to increase the debt limit, the government would default on U.S. obligations.

INDIA-ECONOMY

NEW DELHI (AP) -- India's central bank unexpectedly cut a key interest rate by a quarter percentage point, the second such cut this year because of lower inflation.

Wednesday's cut brings the policy repo rate, at which commercial banks can borrow from the Reserve Bank of India, to 7.5 percent.

The Reserve Bank of India made a similar cut in the key rate in January.

Inflation in India has lowered substantially as global oil prices have dropped sharply.

The RBI said in a statement that inflation in January was 5.1 percent, well below the government's upper limit of 8 percent for the month.

GAMES-GAME DEVELOPERS CONFERENCE-PROJECT MORPHEUS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Sony intends on unleashing its virtual-reality headset on consumers next year.

The gaming and electronics giant says its Project Morpheus VR system will debut in early 2016.

The announcement was made Tuesday at a news conference held during the Game Developers Conference.

Sony originally unveiled a prototype of the headset nicknamed Project Morpheus at last year's conference. The headset works in tandem with Sony's PlayStation 4 console and camera by covering users' eyes and simulating virtual worlds on screen.

The company showed off an updated prototype of the headset on Tuesday. It features 5.7-inch OLED screens that display a 100-degree field of view and nine LED lights used to track movement. Sony says the headset can render games at 120 frames per second.

No price was announced.

TARGET-INVESTORS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Target Corp. plans $2 billion in cost cuts over the next two years through corporate restructuring and other improvements.

The goal is to make the Minneapolis-based discounter more agile in an increasingly competitive landscape.

As part of the restructuring plans, the Minneapolis-based company plans to eliminate several thousand positions over two years and establish centralized teams based on specialized expertise.

Target also plans to invest between $2 billion and $2.2 billion in capital expenditures, including a $1 billion investment in technology and supply chain.

The moves unveiled Tuesday are being spearheaded by CEO Brian Cornell, who took over last August and who is charged with reclaiming the retailer's image as a purveyor of cheap chic fashions.

ARGENTINA-DEFAULT

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Citibank lawyer has warned a judge its Argentina branch will be in "great danger" if he refuses to let the South American nation pay interest to bondholders.

Attorney Karen Wagner described the threat to federal court Judge Thomas Griesa during arguments Tuesday in New York.

Wagner says bonds purchased by Citibank customers in Argentina are subject to Argentine law. She says they should not be subject to an order the judge issued banning Argentina from paying interest on bonds exchanged at a discount by 90 percent of bondholders after the republic defaulted on $100 billion in debt in 2001.

The judge says interest can't be paid unless Argentina pays U.S. hedge funds about $1.5 billion they're owed. The judge hasn't ruled.

A lawyer representing Argentina supported Wagner in her arguments.

GREECE-POVERTY BILL

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's new left-wing government is promising to spend 200 million euros ($234 million) this year on assistance programs for people pushed into "extreme poverty" by the financial crisis.

In its first bill to parliament Tuesday, the government said it would spend the money on programs to distribute food stamps and provide housing and energy bill assistance.

Greece is struggling to emerge from a six-year recession that saw a dramatic rise in unemployment and poverty, following drastic spending cuts in exchange for bailout loans.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' (TSEE'-prah-zehzs) Syriza (SEER'-ih-zah) party has seen its popularity rise since winning January elections, despite being forced to extend its bailout agreements.

According to an opinion poll for private Star television Tuesday, support for Syriza has risen to 41.3 percent from 36.3 percent in the election.

YELLEN-FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fed Chair Janet Yellen may have gotten a job promotion last year, but her total assets don't appear to have gotten a bump.

Yellen's financial disclosure form for 2014 shows a net worth of between $4.92 million and $13.37 million.

On the high end of the valuation, that represents a slight decline of about 5 percent from 2013 when her assets were valued as high as $14.1 million.

On the government's financial disclosure forms, officials are only required to put the value of their assets in broad ranges. So it is not clear what caused the small drop in her assets, many of which are held jointly with her husband, Nobel laureate economist George Akerlof.

Yellen in February of last year succeeded Ben Bernanke as head of the central bank.

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