road funding

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House returns this week with two fewer members.

The House expelled Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser resigned late last week due to a sex-and-cover-up scandal.

Speaker Kevin Cotter says lawmakers can focus on roads now that the scandal is no longer a distraction.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

There’s a lot of talk (though as of yet, no action) about a long-term solution for fixing Michigan’s crumbling roads.

One question that comes up a lot in the surrounding debate: What role do all those heavy trucks play, and what should we do about them?

That’s the question at the heart of this edition of MI Curious, Michigan Radio’s series investigating listener questions about our state.

Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek looked into this question from Ethan Winter, who asked: “Why are all the weigh stations always closed?”

Once again lawmakers are starting over as another road funding plan collapsed late last week in Lansing.

What really happened?

The latest effort to come up with more than a billion dollars for roads had pitted Republicans against Republicans. The GOP has a 63 to 46 advantage over Democrats in the state House, and a 27 to 11 margin in the state Senate. Those numbers led to the idea that GOP leaders could develop a Republican-only roads solution without having to deal with the Democrats.

Lansing Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Jennifer White spoke to Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about legislative progress towards a roads funding package.

Sikkema says there hasn't been real progress made and Republicans have failed to identify the cuts they would make in the state budget to pay for road improvements. He also says he thinks Republicans need to be willing to make the cuts they identify, rather than leave them for a later legislature to handle.

Contrary to what you might think, it is not true that our government in Lansing can’t do anything. Why, just yesterday, the governor reappointed four members to the Michigan Carrot Commission. 

And the state House of Representatives unanimously voted to retroactively recognize last Sunday as Airborne Day, whatever that means.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
Flickr user Michael Gil /

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss another road funding plan, proposed changes for medical marijuana cardholders, and body cameras.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

State lawmakers return this week from a month-long break with hopes of passing a new road funding plan.

Action on road funding has been stalled since July when lawmakers left Lansing for a month-long break. That’s after after the state House declined to take up legislation that was narrowly approved by the state Senate.

A group of unions is launching a petition drive to raise the corporate income tax rate in Michigan. But is that really their end game?

Everybody gripes about Michigan's potholes.

But in Hamtramck, a group of friends is raising money to fix their roads themselves.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A union-led petition drive is trying to increase the state’s Corporate Income Tax rate from 6% to 11%. The revenue would be used to fix roads.

Increasing the rate by 5 percentage points would generate about $900 million a year toward Governor Rick Snyder’s goal of $1.2 billion in new revenue for road repairs. It would also be a major change to the 2011 business tax overhaul engineered by Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature.

Wikimedia Commons

More than half of Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids' roads are in poor condition, according to a recent study by the transportation research group TRIP. That makes them some of the worst in the nation.

Updated story 4:38 PM:

So, there’s definitely no deal on road funding.

The state House and Senate floor managers have let it be known there will be no attendance taken and no roll call votes this week. After that the Michigan Legislature is on a break until mid-August.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House is scheduled to meet one day this week to try and reach a compromise on road funding.

If a deal doesn’t get done on Tuesday, talks may have to wait until the fall. The House is scheduled to begin a month-long break on Wednesday.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he hasn’t given up on getting a deal for more than a $1 billion in new road revenue through the Legislature. Lawmakers adjourned this week without voting on a roads package.

But, at an event in Detroit, the governor said he’s still confident a deal can come together in 2015.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There’s no road funding deal to speak of as state representatives leave Lansing for the week. That means a vote on any plan will have to wait until next week – and possibly until the fall.

It appears Republicans in the state House remain divided on whether a gas tax increase should be part of any plan to boost road funding.

user: Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

GOP leaders in the state House are working to assemble enough Republican votes to pass a road funding plan that’s likely to raise taxes.

House Republicans met on Tuesday to review a Senate-approved plan that raises the state’s gas tax by 15 cents over three years. It also includes a possible rollback in the state’s income tax rate – but that depends on growth in revenues to the state’s General Fund.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
Flickr user Michael Gil /

Democrats in the state Legislature are criticizing Republican plans to boost road funding. That’s as the House gets set to take up the debate next week.

The state Senate approved a plan last week that would boost the gas tax by 15 cents a gallon over three years and shift $700 million from other areas of the budget. It also includes a possible rollback in the state income tax rate.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
Flickr user Michael Gil /

The Michigan Senate this week approved a package of bills that would gradually increase the state gas tax over three years and give $1.5 billion to roads funding. But the House and Senate still have to overcome significant differences in their respective plans to fund roads and infrastructure.

Zoe Clark, Michigan Radio’s co-host of It’s Just Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Jenn White to talk about what it will take to finally get a roads funding plan passed.

Michigan House Republicans

The state Senate has approved its $1.5 billion plan to boost road funding.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley cast two tie-breaking votes on bills to gradually raise Michigan’s gas tax by 15 cents over three years. Calley says those votes were meant to move the process along toward reaching a final compromise on road funding.

Wikimedia Commons

The state Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday on a road funding proposal that includes a possible income tax rollback.

A state Senate panel approved a plan Tuesday afternoon that could generate about $1.5 billion annually for roads, in part by raising Michigan’s gas tax by 15 cents a gallon over three years. It would also shift about $700 million in existing state funds to roads.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House has approved a Republican plan to boost road funding by about $1 billion a year. It would shift most of the money from existing funds in the state budget.

Democrats criticized the plan. They say it relies too heavily on projected economic growth in coming years. And they strongly oppose provisions that would increase fees for alternative fuel vehicles and eliminate a tax credit for the working poor.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A plan to boost road funding by about $1 billion a year could clear the state House this week.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, is pushing a plan that would rely mostly on shifting existing funds in the state budget and expected revenue increases in the coming years.

John-Morgan / creative commons

A state House panel is eyeing the elimination of a tax credit for working poor families to help come up with more money for roads.

Representative Jeff Farrington, R-Utica, chairs the House Roads and Economic Development Committee. He says eliminating the state’s earned income tax credit would add about $120 million for road funding.

What has happened to the once-esteemed Earned Income Tax Credit?  Everyone used to love it.

The EITC is the target this week as state House Republicans continue hearings as they look for ways to raise more than $1 billion for roads without raising taxes.

How a pothole forms gif animation
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

After Proposal  1 was voted down earlier this month, the message from voters seemed to be that they wanted a bill that simply addressed road funding. No extra politics, special interests or provisions.

So what happens when you strip away the politics of road repair? What goes into the actual, well, road repair?

Stefan Kellner / Flickr

Republican state lawmakers are eyeing electric and hybrid vehicles as a possible source of road money. They say vehicles that are built to use less fuel should have to pay higher registration fees.

Legally grown marijuana in Colorado.
Brett Levin /

As state lawmakers search for ways to come up with the money needed to fix Michigan’s battered and bumpy roads, one state representative tossed out this idea: Legalize and tax marijuana, and then put that new revenue to work.

State Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, joins us today to talk about this idea.

This week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference gets underway on Mackinac Island. This is when Lansing, political Lansing at least, empties out of town and heads north to rub shoulders – and click cocktail glasses – with Michigan’s movers and shakers in businesses, finance and philanthropy.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

After the failure of Proposal 1 in the May 5 election, Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants wanted to figure out why. This past weekend we polled 600 likely voters about their thoughts on the recent ballot proposal.

Proposal 1 was meant to fund Michigan road repair and included increased funding for schools and other provisions.

In Lansing, state Senate leaders say they’re scrubbing plans for a summer break in order to work toward a road funding solution. They say they heard John Q. Public loud and clear after the massive failure of Proposal One and that, this time, they’re going to get a roads-fix done.