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6 February 2013

* The Capitol news service MIRS is paywall protected, but I wanted to share some basic data it collected on salaries for top political appointees in Michigan.

“Salaries of the department directors as of Jan. 10, 2013:

John Nixon, Department of Technology, Management and Budget: $250,000

Mike Flanagan, Department of Education: $189,515

Andy Dillon, Department of Treasury: $174,204

Gregory Vadnais, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs: $167,237

James Haveman, Department of Community Health: $146,450

Dan Heyns, Department of Corrections: $146,450

Kriste Kibbey Etue, Michigan State Police $146,450

Kirk Steudle, Department of Transportation: $146,450

Dan Wyant, Department of Environmental Quality: $145,000

Jamie Clover Adams, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development: $145,000

Maura Corrigan, Department of Human Services: $145,000

Keith Creagh, Department of Natural Resources: $145,000

Dan Kirchbaum, Department of Civil Rights: $136,000

– Attorney General Bill Schuette: $124,900, *pay rate set by SOCC

– Secretary of State Ruth Johnson: $124,900, *pay rate set by SOCC.”

* Michigan’s debate over road funding is not unusual: “In the search for more transportation money, governors and state lawmakers are largely avoiding one of the most obvious and straightforward funding sources: state gasoline taxes. … Instead, they have proposed selling bonds backed by higher tolls, tapping reserves or surpluses, taxing miles driven instead of fuel bought or hiking income or sales taxes. In fact, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell wants to get rid of the gas tax altogether.”

* The Amtrak passenger rail service carried almost 800,000 ridersin Michigan in 2012, a record. The Michigan Department of Transportation said greater awareness and a more positive view of train travel contributed to the passenger growth. And this is with a limited service that’s been plagued by delays.

Part of the challenge for improvement is, as Amtrak passengers will tell you, operating a passenger rail line on rail routes used and owned by freight companies.

As a 2009 state-sponsored study put it: “Freight railroad ownership of the rail lines with the resulting control of dispatching duties has caused problems with on-time performance of passenger trains. Some of the line segments have heavy freight train volumes that often delay passenger trains, producing persistent on-time performance problems.”

For perspective, look at the map below of rail lines. Now, imagine if the interstate highways were owned not by the public, but by, say, FedEx, with a state motor travel agency leasing space and time on the highways for drivers.

1 comment from a Bridge reader.Add mine!

  1. ervin gunn

    we need railroad service generally like 1900 including passenger service w/car transport available. so many railroad right of ways have been turned over to local control that it will slow down the process. how about serious effort to get it to happen?

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