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Gas tax shift makes sense for our crumbling roads

Lame-duck Legislature has just a few days to act

Choices | December 4, 2014 | By James Bruckbauer

About the Author

James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at james@mlui.org.

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The Senate’s package of bills would boost funding for roads, trains, and public transit by changing our current cent-per-gallon fuel tax to a wholesale tax. 

Last month, the Michigan Senate passed a package of bills that would invest about $1.2 billion into the state’s aging transportation network.

Now with only six days remaining in the lame-duck session, it’s up to the Michigan House of Representatives to act on a crucial investment strategy for Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure.

The Senate’s package of bills would boost funding for roads, trains, and public transit by changing our current cent-per-gallon fuel tax to a wholesale tax, incrementally raising the rate over the next four years. It’s expected to raise just over a billion dollars.

A competing proposal introduced by House Speaker Jase Bolger would avoid raising fuel taxes, instead diverting sales-tax funding that would normally go to K-12 schools and cities and use it for roads. The Michigan Municipal League, which represents municipalities all over the state, described how Speaker Bolger’s proposal would hurt Michigan’s communities on the their blog.

The Senate’s package of bills, on the other hand, would raise much-needed dollars for transportation without diverting funding from cities and schools.

The Michigan Land Use Institute, along with our partners in the Transportation for Michigan (Trans4M) coalition, believe the Senate’s package is the right approach for a number of reasons:

  • The amount of available transportation dollars would rise more consistently with inflation over the next several years.

  • A percentage of the new funding would go to improving the state’s rail, bus, and bike networks, and reinvesting in our communities.

  • It would boost transportation agencies’ ability to preserve and reinvest in their existing roads, and allow them to build safer road networks for people on bikes, buses, or on foot.

Let’s hope the House acts soon. Time is running out. Because of new legislators heading to Lansing, this could be the last time we see a transportation funding bill for a while.

Please contact your House representatives and encourage them to pass the Senate’s transportation funding package, including House Bill 5477.

You can join the Transportation for Michigan Advocacy Day on December 10.

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