A new bill package introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives could help fix local roads without increasing taxes.
Reps. Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) and Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) introduced a bill package on Wednesday that would replace the fuel tax Michigan residents pay and replace with an equivalent fuel tax that would then be put toward local roads. The revenue-neutral fuel tax is estimated to generate $800 million per year.
“We should address roads in a way that works for the entire state of Michigan – not just certain parts of it,” Hernandez said in a statement. “This solution would provide more resources for rural communities and local roads, not just major highways and big cities.”
O’Malley highlighted the need for fixing local roads, saying that the Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent road bonding idea only addresses around 9,600 miles out of 120,000 total in the state.
“The statistics show local roads are in the worst shape,” O’Malley said in a statement. “When I started on the House Transportation Committee, I went across the state to around 20 town halls to speak with drivers and local officials about their roads and what we can do about them in Lansing. The message was consistent that locals need more tools in their toolbox.”
O’Malley and Hernandez also said that safeguards are built into the legislation that would ensure school funding, which includes sales tax revenue from fuel purchases, would not be negatively impacted.
The package was supported by numerous members of the GOP in the House.
“Rather than fixing the root of the problem, the governor decided to max out the state credit card to bail out freeways in metro Detroit – doing nothing for rural Michigan families except asking them to pay down massive amounts of debt,” said Rep. Beau LaFave (R-108-Iron Mountain) in a statement. “Fortunately, with legislative proposals like this that put rural Michigan first, our highways will survive the disastrous Whitmer Administration.”
Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-57-Lenawee) said the package is a good fit for the entire state because it “doesn’t rely on asking taxpayers for more money.”
“This is a common sense change ensuring taxes paid at the pump go to help fix the roads our friends, families and neighbors drive on every day — roads that were basically ignored by our governor with her recent bonding plan,” Kahle said in a statement. “We can’t forget that our roads from the driveway to the highway need to be fixed, too.”
House Bills 5582-85 and 5587-88 will now be referred to the House Appropriations Committee.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]