Lawmakers Play a Game of “Beat the Clock” on Road Repair Issue
What looked like a smooth road to an agreement on a plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges ended Wednesday with a stunning defeat.
Lawmakers, though, vow to continue the battle to find a way to raise money to fix the state’s infrastucture one way or the other.
MLive.com is reporting that lawmakers will try again today–the last day before their summer break is set to begin–to come to a consensus on how to raise the estimated $1 billion in revenue that Governor Snyder and others say is needed each year for the next decade to make repairs.
There seemed to be support among lawmakers and even the public for an increase in the state sales taxt that voters could decide to continue or stop in November. A hike in the gas tax would raise money as well in the interim.
But that idea, whether due to lack of what Democrats wanted in return, or sheer fear over what a tax hike of this magnitude could mean during an election year, was voted down in the Senate.
Other parts of the proposal got the thumbs up, though, including elimination of registration fee depreciation discounts and a bill that would dedicate a portion of the cost at the pump directly to roads and nothing else. Increasing truck weight restrictions are also being considered.
House members, who voted to spend $450 million more on roads without increasing taxes, are now standing by that plan. Others say the money isn’t nearly enough to make even a dent in the cost of repair.
Democrats are already seizing on the defeat to point fingers. “It’s a failure of leadership across the board,” Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said after the vote.
Polls show residents in Michigan say roads are the top priority for them now and that they are willing to pay for repairs–if that cost is within reason. Others, though, say they’ve paid enough and lawmakers should utilize funding from other sources–cutting the fat–to come up with the revenue.
The only thing for sure….is that the debate will continue.
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