Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 9, 2014

Michigan House passes $450 million more for roads

(Continued)

Proponents say if Michigan had moved to a wholesale gas tax when it last raised the per-gallon tax in 1997, it would have the $1.3 billion Snyder is seeking today. Road agencies are getting less in state funding than a decade ago in part because people are driving less and with more fuel-efficient cars.

The conservative group Americans for Prosperity criticized lawmakers for basing fuel taxes on price, saying it's doubtful that residents "support automatic yearly increases in the taxes they pay at the pump." On the other side of the political spectrum, the Michigan League for Public Policy — an advocacy group for the poor — said the House plan would strain other spending on health care, higher education, public safety, preschool and human services.

But Snyder, a Republican whose call for bigger hikes in gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees hasn't been embraced in the Legislature, applauded the House.

"The House package reflects a serious commitment to tackling this issue," he said in a statement. "It continues the critical dialogue as we work together to reach the ultimate solution that includes a stable, sufficient, long-term funding source."

Some Democrats such as Rep. Sam Singh of East Lansing criticized the bills as not going far enough.

"I want to be able to support something that adds real revenue, that solves the problem — that's not in the millions but is actually in the billions" of dollars, he said.

Other bills sent to the GOP-led Senate would raise the cost of permits for oversized and overweight trucks, double fines for overweight trucks, revise some vehicle registration fees and aim to ensure contractors are held responsible for shoddy pavement.

"While you criticize the package as not being perfect, and it's not, it is a very good first step in getting us working on fixing Michigan roads," said Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser.

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