road funding

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

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.

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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 http://ow.ly/NtcRu

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 / creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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.

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Republicans in the state House have rolled out their plan to boost road funding after Proposal One’s historic failure.

They say their proposal would raise $1.05 billion for roads, mainly by relying on projected growth in the state budget. It would also eliminate the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for working poor families and Michigan’s film incentives.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State House Republicans could introduce legislation to boost road funding as soon as this week.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, says he’s interested in tapping restricted pools of money in the budget and economic development funds to raise more than $1 billion a year for roads. He told reporters last week he won’t put forward a plan that relies mostly on raising taxes.

Last week’s defeat of Proposal One means the billion dollar question of how to pay for Michigan’s roads remains unanswered.

Lawmakers were quick to say that they’re going to work throughout the summer to come up with a new plan. But, if they haven’t been able to find a solution yet, what makes them think they’ll be able to now?

User _chrisUK / flickr.com

We in Michigan have been talking about fixing our roads for years.

"Just fix the damn roads," was the mantra Michigan lawmakers heard over and over from their constituents.

Now the refrain sounds more like "just don't fix the damn roads this way."

Proposal 1 seeks to improve the state of Michigan's roads.
user: Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

Tomorrow voters go to the polls to decide the fate of Proposal 1 - the road-funding proposal that would raise the state's sales tax from 6 to 7 percent.

What would that one penny increase really mean?

For the answer, we turned to Charles Ballard. He's an economist at Michigan State University.

Tomorrow, Michigan voters, some of them at least, will go to the polls and decide whether to raise our sales tax from six to seven percent, mainly to fix the roads. Polls show voters badly want the roads fixed, and know this will cost money. But if the polls are correct, Proposal One will also go down to an overwhelming defeat.

Michigan State Route 46.
Doug Kerr / Flickr

When it comes to spending on roads, Michigan lags behind its neighbors.

Earlier this year, the Associated Press looked at how much states spend on roads. The numbers show how far Michigan lags behind.

From Matt Vande Bunte of MLive:

A majority of Michigan's 148 state legislators did not respond to an Associated Press survey asking them how they'll vote on next Tuesday's road-funding ballot proposal.

As Dave Eggert with the Associated Press reports:

Thirty-one, or 21 percent, of the Republican-controlled Legislature's 148 members sent back responses to a short email with three questions. The vast majority — 23 — came from among 58 Democrats, with all but one saying they would vote for the constitutional amendment. Of the eight Republicans who answered out of 90, three were in support.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new poll shows four in five Michigan voters have made up their minds about next month’s ballot question that would hike the state sales tax.

But the man who took the poll is taking the result with a grain of salt.

Mark Grebner, with Practical Political Consulting, says it’s not unusual to see consistent poll numbers going into a vote on a ballot question.

A number of people have been outraged that I haven’t denounced the Constitutional amendment that would raise the sales tax, largely to fix the roads.

Well, in a less imperfect world, this is indeed not how legislation should be made.

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Thirty-eight percent of the main city and county streets and state highways are in poor condition, according to the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council - a significant jump  from last year's 33 percent.

The Council sends out 100 teams of drivers every year to assess the condition of Michigan roads. 

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Each Thursday, Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, discuss Michigan politics with Jenn White. This week the conversation is all about road funding.

Freaktography / flickr.com

Though the proposal is formally known by the House Fiscal Agency as the "Transportation Funding Package," the 10 bills included in the May 5 proposal extend beyond road funding to include alterations in state education funding and sales tax policies.  

If Proposal 1 passes, the following bills will be enacted into law:

A piece of a Michigan overpass being interviewed on Michigan Radio. Gov. Snyder brought this chunk of road to our studios during our call-in show. The piece of concrete said she's glad to be free from the confinement of the overpass.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, May 5, voters will decide whether to increase the sales tax from 6% to 7%, and to change the way fuel is taxed in the state.

In addition to the sales tax increase, Proposal 1 will strip all sales tax off the price you pay at the pump. Instead, you'll pay more in the state fuel tax - money that goes into fixing our roads.

FLICKR USER CLOTEE PRIDGEN ALLOCHUKU / FLICKR

It looks like some lawmakers who aren't happy with the May ballot proposal to increase road funding are trying to come up with an alternative.

Gov. Rick Snyder.
gophouse.com

Gov. Rick Snyder says there’s no backup plan to boost road funding if voters reject a sales tax increase in May.

Snyder urged listeners to vote “yes” on the measure during an appearance on Michigan Public Radio’s statewide call-in program “Michigan Calling.”

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Proposal 1 is the road funding proposal that will be up for a vote on May 5th. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has long expressed their support for a road funding solution, but they are staying neutral on the proposal.

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