Traverse City Record-Eagle

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January 16, 2013

Snyder makes tax, fee proposals for road repairs

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday called for raising an additional $1.2 billion a year to patch up Michigan's ailing roads and bridges, describing the higher taxes and fees that would be required as investments that would provide long-term savings for motorists.

Generating new money for Michigan's transportation network was the centerpiece of Snyder's third annual State of the State address, delivered to a joint session of the state Legislature in the Capitol. The Republican governor sought support from both parties midway through a turbulent term in which he has pleased business interests but alienated Democrats and organized labor with tax relief for corporations and measures that have weakened unions' powers.

Snyder provided few details in his nearly hourlong speech, which also touched on education, insurance reform and a variety of other issues. But in a briefing for reporters beforehand, senior policy adviser Bill Rustem said Snyder favored replacing the tax on fuels paid at the pump with a levy at the wholesale level, which could be passed on to consumers and rise with inflation. He also supports raising the annual motor vehicle registration fee and allowing local governments to increase it even further to raise money for fixing local roads, Rustem said.

Instead of proposing specific tax and fee increases, Snyder tried to make the case for raising the money in the first place — which could be a tough sell in a legislature led by tax-averse Republicans and with Democrats still resentful over his last-minute embrace of contentious right-to-work legislation last month.

"We need to invest more in our roads ... it's time," he said, arguing that while his plan would cost about $120 per vehicle, motorists would recoup most of that by having lower repair bills as highways and local roads are improved. "This is not about costing us money. It is about saving us money and building for the future."

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