Michigan voters trounce $1.27 billion plan for roads

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/6/2015

By a whopping margin of 80 percent to 20 percent, Michigan voters on Tuesday, May 5, rejected a proposal to raise $1.27 billion annually for roads and bridges.

Gov. Rick Snyder was disappointed about the defeat of Proposal 1 on the statewide ballot, but he said he knows the public wants action taken to maintain and improve the state’s roadways.

“The people have spoken. Let’s learn from their feedback,” Snyder said at a press conference Wednesday morning. “We’ll work together to find a good solution.”

The ballot question sought to amend the Michigan Constitution to increase the state sales tax rate from 6 to 7 percent. In exchange, collection of the sales tax on fuel purchases would sunset this October.

As a result of the ballot defeat, a 10-bill package approved by state lawmakers late last year has also been turned back. The package was tied to voter approval of the sales tax increase.

The bill package included plans to convert the state’s gas and diesel tax rates to a wholesale rate, which would allow tax collections to increase with inflation.

The change was estimated to result in an immediate 5-cent-per-gallon increase on gas and diesel.

Also tied into the package were higher truck fees that would raise $90 million. Specifically, another $50 million would be raised by charging more for oversize/overweight truck permit fees. Registration fees for commercial trucks would raise $40 million via a 34 percent increase over three years.

Opponents said the ballot question was too complex. Other said residents cannot afford to pay more taxes.

The governor said that state lawmakers must get back to work to come up with a viable long-term solution to support infrastructure.

“We can’t gloss over the problem. We need to actually solve the problem. Patches and Band-Aids don’t really work.”

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, said in the hours following the vote he is convinced that state lawmakers will come up with a road funding solution.

“We are laser-focused on road funding. We will fix the roads.”

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