Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

July 1, 2013

5 issues in doubt besides Medicaid expansion

LANSING (AP) — The Rick Snyder v. Senate Republicans showdown over Medicaid expansion is overshadowing the fact that other big bills went unresolved before lawmakers adjourned for at least two months.

At the top of the list is the years-long debate over how to raise taxes and fees to bring more roads and bridges up to par. But other bills in doubt include one to cap unlimited medical benefits for catastrophically injured motorists along with a measure letting Michigan run more poor-performing schools.

The Medicaid debate could yet be resolved in July or August if senators decide to return for a vote. Here are five other key issues that could be debated later in 2013 before an election year that could doom prospects of enacting contentious legislation.

ROAD FUNDING

Issue: With people driving less and buying more fuel-efficient cars, the state’s flat per-gallon fuel taxes aren’t generating enough revenue to keep pace with construction costs. Snyder says without extra funding for routine maintenance, highways will deteriorate so much that it’ll be much more costly to fix them later.

Solution: State transportation officials are asking for an extra 35 cents a day from every vehicle in Michigan, or about $128 a year in taxes, license plate fees or both.

Outlook: Dim. Politicians consider raising gasoline taxes to be a third rail for consumers. The recent price spike at the pump didn’t help. Increasing the 6 percent sales tax would require two-thirds backing in the Republican-controlled Legislature just to make the ballot, and the ability of GOP and Democratic leaders to strike a deal — perhaps with more money for schools, too — is a major question mark.

AUTO INSURANCE

Issue: Michigan’s the only state that requires unlimited medical benefits for catastrophic injuries and rehabilitation, which costs motorists $175 per car per year and rises to $186 starting Monday. Critics, including insurers, say it’s an unsustainable system.

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