- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The first TV ad urging passage of a sales tax increase on the May statewide ballot says Michigan roads aren’t just bad, they’re dangerous.

The group supporting a “yes” vote on Proposal 1 will start airing the 30-second ad statewide on Monday for an unspecified length of time.

The “Plywood” ad - released about two weeks before absentee ballots for the special election will be available - features the Traffords, a mid-Michigan family that travels a lot for kids’ basketball and soccer. The mother, the ad’s narrator, says nobody likes paying higher taxes but there are some places to which she hates driving.

Plywood underneath highway overpasses is there, she says, to keep concrete from dropping onto vehicles.

“What’s to keep that from falling down? Or even the whole bridge?” the woman says. “We’ll pay more for roads that are safer for our family.”

The Safe Roads Yes ballot group declined to say how much it will spend airing the initial ad and said additional ads will be aired soon, including some likely to highlight police and firefighters worried about deteriorating road conditions.

Spokesman Roger Martin said “safety clearly is the biggest concern Michigan voters have about our roads. Republicans, Democrats, independents all agree that our roads have gone from bad to worse to dangerous, and we’ve got to fix them.”

Paul Mitchell, who heads an opposition ballot organization, the Coalition Against Higher Taxes and Special Interest Deals, noted that the state’s top law enforcement officer - Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette - came out against the proposal this week.

“They can try to use the fear factor as a means by which to get people to sign onto a bad deal,” he said. “Why not get a proposal together that just focuses on the roads and takes care of the roads?”

The constitutional amendment, which the GOP-led Legislature placed on the spring ballot, will ask if voters want to increase the sales tax to 7 percent from 6 percent while removing it from fuel.

Ten other laws will take effect only if the proposal is approved - including restructuring and more than doubling the 19-cents-a-gallon state gasoline tax to help generate $1.3 billion more annually for roads, bridges and public transit.

Schools and municipalities would initially receive nearly $400 million in additional funding under the sales tax hike, and low-wage earners would see a tax credit worth $260 million.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, a Proposal 1 supporter, also has said the tax increases are needed to protect public safety.

Robert McCann, a Democratic consultant in Lansing and owner of Cover Two Strategies, said it’s not surprising to see a focus on bad roads, but “that’s essentially telling people something we’re all very aware of already.”

“The campaign at some point will need to outline all of the positives that would come from Proposal 1’s passage, including for our schools and families, and convince people it’s not only a good plan, but worth getting out and voting for in May,” he said.

Martin said he anticipates that future ads will stress the additional guaranteed funding in the school aid fund.

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“Plywood” ad: www.bitly.com/plywood-video

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Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00

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