Michigan governor repeats call for road, bridge deal

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Gov. Rick Snyder is turning up the heat in an effort to get a deal done at the statehouse to improve Michigan’s roads and bridges.

The governor held a roundtable discussion on Monday, Dec. 1, to discuss the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges one day before state lawmakers reconvene in Lansing for the final three weeks of the legislative session.

“The message from every corner of the state is clear,” Snyder said during the discussion in Southfield, Mich. “It’s time to fix the roads. Michiganders are tired of dodging potholes. … They’re fed up with getting socked with auto repair bills because Lansing has ignored the problem for too long.”

Senate lawmakers voted last month to advance an amended plan to potentially raise as much as $1.5 billion annually to fix roads and bridges in the state.

The bill, HB5477, sent back to the House for consideration of changes would repeal the state’s per-gallon tax rate on gas and diesel. Lawmakers haven’t increased the 19-cent-a-gallon gas tax since 1997. The 15-cent-a-gallon diesel tax has remained unchanged since 1984.

If approved, the bill would replace the excise taxes on April 1, 2015, with a 9.5 percent wholesale tax, which would allow tax collections for gas and diesel to increase with inflation.

The tax rate would increase by 2 percent increments each January until reaching 15.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2018. At that time, it is estimated the tax rate would approach 40 cents per gallon.

House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, has offered a competing plan. His alternative to the Senate-approved bill would phase out the 6 percent sales tax added to fuel purchases while converting the state’s excise tax rates to a percentage rate that would gradually increase over time.

Snyder has called on lawmakers to raise revenue for transportation work since he took office. The morning after he won re-election on Nov. 4 he renewed his push for legislators to get something done.

Specifically, he called on the House and Senate to work out a deal by the end of the year to pay for $1 billion in road improvements.

“There’s a time for discussion and a time for action,” Snyder said. “After nearly 20 years of discussion in Lansing, taxpayers deserve action.”

The House could take up for consideration bills that cover road funding as soon as Tuesday. The session is scheduled to adjourn the week of Christmas.

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