You’ve probably heard that the state Senate passed a bill last week that would finally raise some significant money to fix Michigan’s terrible roads. Most of us who ever have to leave the house and drive were happy about this.
For years, the roads have gotten worse, and our lawmakers have done virtually nothing about them.
However, there are a number of important things to know about this bill and this issue. First of all, this is not a done deal. The state House of Representatives won’t even take this up until next month. While there is a lot of pressure to do something about the roads, there is no guarantee they will pass the Senate bill in its present form – or indeed, pass any bill at all.
But here’s something else you may not have read elsewhere. The bill passed by the Senate is really a pretty lousy way of coming up with money for road repair. The formula it uses is very hard to understand, and provides no guaranteed amount.
What Gov. Rick Snyder proposed, and what usually happens when more road repair money is needed, is that lawmakers raise the gas tax by a certain number of cents on the gallon. Driving habits vary, but not by very much.
Transportation experts can calculate pretty closely how much new revenue, say, a 10-cent-a-gallon increase would bring. But that’s not what the Senate is proposing.