Patrick Center July 10, 2013 | WGVU Earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder made the pitch during his State of the State address that by investing in fixing roads and bridges now, through user fees, it would save the state money in the long run.The math makes sense until the discussion turns to how to raise the $1.2 billion dollars a year needed for repairs. While the governor is a fan of increasing registration fees and the wholesale fuel tax, he’s seeking bipartisan suggestions.
During the recording of WGVU-TV’s “West Michigan Week,” Kirk Steudle, Director of Michigan’s Department of Transportation offered some alternatives.One is talk of removing the sales tax on motor fuels.
“There’s a six percent sales tax on gasoline and that goes to schools and that goes to revenue sharing. Well, most people think at the pump that that’s all going to roads. It’s not. So at six percent and $4 a gallon that’s 24 cents that’s not going to roads and 19 cents is. So, one thought is, just take that off.”
But to tinker with the state’s sales tax, the state’s constitution would need some tinkering, too.There’s talk of corporate sponsorship for park and rides, rest areas and stretches of highway.At the local level there’s consideration for giving municipalities power to raise funds through registration fees.
“That would allow local units of government, should they chose to, an option of getting a vote of the people, put a registration fee on locally, that they spend locally on local projects.”
That could generate $280 million statewide.But to move the needle for the bigger $12 billion fix, there needs to be bipartisan support and Steudle senses if lawmakers from both parties can agree on Medicaid expansion in the next few months there could be a breakthrough on transportation funding.
“If you look at the vote within the house on Medicaid that there was bipartisan support and there may be, that may be the link that helps us gets through there. But we’ve got to get through the Senate piece.”
The senate is scheduled to discuss Medicaid expansion July 17th. Steudle is hopeful passage there will set the tone for a road funding deal before the end of the year.
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