Road Funding Deal Threatened in Lame-Duck?
The road fix in Michigan may not be worked out in lame-duck session after all. Competing plans to raise the $1.2 to $1.8 billion, what Governor Snyder says is needed per year to repair the state's infrastructure, are drawing both praise and criticism. And that could mean no agreement on any one proposal anytime soon. But some lawmakers aren't giving up hope of a deal before Christmas.
MLive.com reports a state House plan would phase-out sales tax collections at the pump but increase fuel taxes by a corresponding amount.
The idea, they say, would be a wash that would not generate a significant tax hike for motorists but would continue funding for roads, education and public safety.
The plan was put forward by Speaker Jase Bolger who said it makes sense.
"Simply put, this plan dedicates the taxes drivers pay at the pump to fixing their roads,"
Bolger said his proposal, which would phase out sales tax collections between 2016 and 2021 but increase fuel taxes by a corresponding amount, would resolve confusion by motorists who believed all along that the gas tax was going to fund road repair and improvement.
Michigan's gas taxes are among the highest in the nation so many are having trouble accepting that that number could rise even more.
The no new taxes proposal is a popular one, but the rub comes from those who say schools and local governments will take the hit when the gas sales tax is returned completely to roads.
"If we take more money from our schools and our cities to solve the road funding problem, we haven't really done anything," Representative Doug Geiss, a Democrat from Taylor, told the news source.
But Bolger says that will not be the scenario.
"This plan provides more funding for roads and bridges, protects schools and local governments from budget cuts, and protects Michigan's taxpayers by not increasing their budget at the pump," Bolger responded.
Another proposal that has already passed the state Senate and is favored by Governor Snyder, would increase the state's current flat tax at 19-cents a gallon to a tax on the wholesale price that would rise overtime.
While many lawmakers are confident a compromise can be reached in the coming days, others aren't so sure and wonder whether the "new" Legislature will meet the "political hot potato issue" when they arrive in Lansing in January.
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