LANSING ‒ House Republicans have pitched a 12-bill funding package to improve Michigan’s failing roads, the first official Plan B since state voters crushed a ballot proposal earlier this month.
The bills, introduced Thursday, will bring on fresh talks in the Legislature starting this week about how to pay for work on the state’s crumbling infrastructure that could last through the summer if lawmakers aren’t able to reach a deal before session breaks in June.
They have been referred to the new House Committee on Roads and Economic Development. The committee is scheduled to take up three of the bills relating to competitive bidding and warranties on road projects on Thursday. Hearings on other bills are set for May 26 and June 2.
The bills reflect a plan presented last week by House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant. Cotter proposed raising more than $1 billion by 2019, with much of the new money coming from what he characterizes as anticipated state revenue growth.
But he also proposed eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers to save $117 million, as well as taking $185 million from economic development programs that include the 21st Century Jobs Fund, tribal gaming compacts and film incentives.
Cotter’s plan would raise another $45 million through initially raising the tax on diesel fuel from 15 cents to 19 cents to match that of regular fuel and by charging fees to drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles.
House Democrats oppose the proposal’s reliance on undetermined future revenue, calling it “at best, a Band-Aid approach that won’t guarantee that roads will be repaired or maintained now or in the future.”
Democrats maintain they want a long-term roads deal that requires corporations and the wealthy to pay more and avoids cuts to schools, local governments and health care.
The roads bills are HB4605, HB4606, HB4607, HB4608, HB4609, HB4610, HB4611, HB4612, HB4613, HB4614, HB4615 and HB 4616.