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Senate still considering sales tax increase for roads after approving gas tax hike

Nov 14, 2014

State lawmakers are considering multiple plans that would significantly increase state road funding. The state Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would raise the state’s gas tax to pay for road improvements.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

But state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says they could still try to pass a plan that would raise the state’s sales tax.

“We may look to change the sales tax. And that may be a better way to fix the structural problem that we know exists at the pump already,” Richardville told reporters on Thursday.

“There are (Republican legislators) that were pretty adamant that they believe, in talking to their constituents, that that’s a better solution, that everybody gains from having good roads and not just those driving gasoline-powered cars.”

That plan would require a two-thirds majority of the Legislature. It would then need to be approved by Michigan voters.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he is open to a sales tax increase, but only as a way to give voters a second option to raising the gas tax.

“I’ve always been open to having an option to a legislative solution,” said Snyder. “If people want to look at, say, a plan B versus a plan A, I’m very open to that. But let’s get a plan A done.”

Snyder has said he favors increasing the gas tax and vehicle registration fees to pay for infrastructure improvements.

The state Senate has twice this year rejected the sales tax increase proposal, Senate Joint Resolution A. But Richardville says more Senators are casting ‘yes’ votes each time the legislation is taken up.

But there is little chance Democrats will support the plan, which would be needed to get the necessary super-majority approval. Democrats say any increase in the sales tax would disproportionately hurt lower income people.