If you have a TV, then you've probably seen one of the ads for Proposal 6, criticizing the plan to build a new bridge to Canada. Those ads make a lot of claims, but none of them are true, as The Detroit Free Press reported this week.
The Free Press' headline says it all: "Experts say new international bridge won't cost Michigan taxpayers." That's absolutely true.
One special interest, though, has a near-monopoly on truck traffic between Detroit and Windsor. They don't want to see the project completed, so they're spending a tremendous amount of money on TV ads on the issue. The Detroit Free Press decided to analyze the ads, and here's what they found:
Claims that have bombarded Michigan voters for months that taxpayers will be stuck with the bill for a multi-billion dollar bridge to Canada are not based in reality, said three independent law professors asked by the Free Press to review an international Crossing Agreement signed in June.
The advertising campaign from the People Should Decide, a group financially backed by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun and his family, has pushed that consistent message in several rounds of anti-bridge ads that are misleading, said two advertising experts who reviewed a recently released ad, also at the request of the Free Press.
Jennifer Henderson, a law professor at University of Detroit Mercy, John Mogk, a law professor at Wayne State University, and Marcia Valiante of the University of Windsor said the Crossing Agreement between Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Transport Minister Denis Lebel is crystal clear that Canada pays for the bridge and then recoups Michigan's share, about $550 million, from future bridge tolls -- not from Michigan taxpayers." It very clearly says it's not funded by Michigan. ... And throughout the agreement those words are repeated," Henderson said.
The Detroit Free Press, though, isn't the only organization that has fact-checked the bridge ads. As the paper reports, The Michigan Truth Squad also took a look, and it came to the same conclusion:
The Michigan Truth Squad, an effort connected with the nonprofit Center for Michigan think tank, issued a "flagrant foul," its toughest verdict, against the People Should Decide's claims made in advertisements, mainly that Michigan taxpayers will end up paying for the bridge and that the state's debt load will increase because of it. The group characterizes a flagrant foul as a "statement that distorts or incorrectly states a fact."
The group explains its verdict on its website: "These ads repeat claims, or advance new variants of old claims, that do not match available documents. The agreement with Canada puts the financial onus on Michigan's neighbor, not Michigan, for paying the bills, including interest. Since Michigan is not appropriating construction dollars, no dollars are being diverted away from other public uses. Michigan is not increasing its debt load with the NITC project."
What can the people of Michigan expect from the bridge project? As Governor Rick Snyder says, "It's all about jobs." The project will bring 10,000 construction jobs in the short term while also bringing export jobs, trade jobs, and long-term jobs to Michiganders for years to come. And with no cost to the people of Michigan, that's a win-win we can bank on.