Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

June 16, 2014

What lawmakers did, didn't do before break

LANSING (AP) — Late-night wrangling over hiking taxes to improve roads overshadowed Michigan lawmakers’ final days in Lansing before they broke for much of the summer.

Despite failing to enact a bipartisan road-funding fix — now a surefire election issue that quickly drew partisan finger pointing — they have some accomplishments to brag out heading into their re-election campaigns.

A look at what the Republican-led Legislature, and Gov. Rick Snyder, did and did not do:

STALLED ROAD TALKS

Legislation that would have more than doubled the state gasoline tax proved too much of a lift in the Senate, where Republicans have a super majority. Advocates for more transportation spending thought they were close and the timing was right given public anger over streets checkered with potholes after the severe winter.

While disappointed, lobbyists were happy a scaled-back plan to gradually raise the gas tax to keep pace with inflationary construction costs — somewhat similar to one approved in the House earlier — never gained traction because it would not have generated close to the $1.2 billion to $2 billion they say is needed immediately.

Of the nine Republicans and eight Democrats who unsuccessfully tried to put the major gas take hike up for a final vote, two were Republicans facing primary challenges and another was a Republican in a Democratic-leaning district.

“I would not want to go home and say, ‘I didn’t do something for the roads.’ I think people in primaries wanted to do something,” said Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe.

Democrats accused Snyder of failed leadership and blamed GOP infighting. At least one Republican legislator accused Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and union officials of pressuring Democratic lawmakers to not give Snyder a “victory” so they can make it an issue in the fall.

“The real reason this effort failed is because Snyder is insisting on raising taxes on retirees and the middle class again,” countered Schauer spokesman Zack Pohl.

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