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"We've waited long enough" for road fix, some business leaders say

Oct 23, 2015

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Just fix the roads already.

That's what some Michigan business leaders are all but begging Lansing to do, even if means getting behind $600 million in new taxes and fees.

But they say  that’s how bad the roads are.

"I hope that's the message that the legislators hear, that it is just that important. Because we don't take this lightly,” says Rick Baker, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

His group and six other chambers – mostly from West Michigan – put out a statement today demanding Lansing take “immediate action on roads.”

And they’re fully backing the current plan in the statehouse: $600 million in unspecified budget cuts and $600 million from new taxes.

“We get that ... you're squeezing the existing budget and using existing revenue, but you need additional revenue to get it to where we need to be,” says Baker. “[But] let's get this done. Let's get this across the finish line.”

But critics, including some other business groups, argue this plan takes so much money from the general fund it’s irresponsible. 

“Michigan citizens don’t want to trade one pothole for another, and this plan does just that,” state Representative Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, told Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta.

Governor Snyder is among those who think this plan slashes way too much from the general fund. He's worried about how it would affect critical services. 

That’s why many of the plan's opponents favor raising more of that money through user fees – think fuel taxes and toll roads.

The legislation also includes a possible rollback in Michigan’s income tax rate.