State roads legislation getting bumpier than the roads that need fixing

LANSING — Republicans in the state House say they aren’t ready to vote on a road-funding deal that would raise more than $1 billion to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure.

That could signal they’re struggling to come up with the minimum 56 votes needed to pass a road-funding deal without Democrats’ help. Republicans hold a 63-47 majority in the House.

The bills were on a tentative House agenda for Wednesday. But members of a special roads committee on Tuesday scheduled — and then canceled — a meeting planned for Wednesday morning. And when Wednesday arrived, House Republicans adjourned for the week without voting.

Those Republicans spent much of their first of six session days during summer recess meeting in private to drum up votes for the Senate’s version of a roads plan.

“We’re still talking about the Senate’s changes and where we want to go from here. No firm timeline on votes,” Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesman for House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, wrote in an email.

A vote in the House will be an attempt to reconcile a proposal from the Senate to raise nearly $1.5 billion by raising the gasoline and diesel taxes to 34 cents a gallon by 2017 and tying both to inflation. That provision was not included in a plan the House approved last month.

The Senate’s plan also would redirect $700 million in general fund spending to roads, although it did not specify which departments would be affected.

The House would raise more than $1 billion by 2019 mostly through existing revenue, including diverting funding for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and by eliminating an income tax credit for the working poor. The Senate did not vote on either of those provisions.

The House’s top-ranking Democrat, Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills, said he’s skeptical that Republicans can muster enough votes on their own to pass the Senate plan.

Greimel called the Senate proposal “a terrible plan” and said Democrats shouldn’t help pass portions of a plan they don’t support.

As an alternative, House Democrats on Tuesday floated their own plan to raise nearly $1.2 billion for road repairs by raising Michigan’s corporate income tax from 6 percent to 9 percent — raising $530 million — while leaving Michigan’s 19-cent fuel tax unchanged.

Instead, Democrats would divert $100 million in sales tax revenue from fuel sales from the general fund to roads, enact a series of registration reforms and increase trucking fees to total 113 million, renegotiate existing Michigan Economic Growth Authority tax credits given to businesses to raise more than $200 million and generate $225 million from electric utilities as part of a re-regulation of the market.

The latter would allow schools and some other customers to retain electric choice.

“Our plan demands that everyone pay their fair share,” Greimel told reporters Tuesday. Corporations, he said, use the state’s roads as much as individuals do and so should not get “a free ride.”

Democrats waited to introduce their plan, however, until after both the House and Senate passed their own versions of a roads fix. Greimel said that was because Democrats don’t have the numbers to pass their own plan but felt compelled to act when they weren’t invited to negotiate a bipartisan deal.

Depending on how quickly roads come up for a vote, he said, Democrats either will introduce standalone bills or amendments to existing bills.

D’Assandro, in an email, called the plan “a tax hike on job creators, and that simply doesn’t work.”

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Thu, 07/16/2015 - 11:01am
"Job Creators" use the roads, probably more heavily than the general public. Those 18-wheelers crushing the pavement beneath them aren't private transportation. Get a clue legislators... fix the road funding so those who actually use them the most and cause the most damage are the ones paying the most. Yeah, it will probably be passed along in higher prices, but so be it.
Ned S Curtis
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 1:59pm
I agree with Jeff! Trucks and corporations should pay up front.
John S.
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 9:18pm
Trucks are responsible for 95-99% of the damage to roadways. They aren't paying their "fair" share, whatever a reasonable definition of "fair" might be. Michigan among the 50 states (ignoring the sales tax) currently has the third lowest diesel tax in the country. The Senate proposal has the virtue of being a "user" fee. Those who use the roads (including non-residents) pay for them. All sides should stop the posturing, vote for increases in the fuel taxes, send the legislation to the governor, and get out of Lansing. Enough already!
Fri, 07/17/2015 - 12:09am
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 11:23am
The hold up is the "no new taxes" pledge signed by a certain number of Republicans that are fearful that it is going to bit them in the you know where during a future primary when they would be facing a tea party candidate if they voted in favor of a tax increase. How they are going to get around this I don't know.
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 4:27pm
Is that a pledge for no new taxes on the people, or just no new taxes on business? They have no problem taxing the 40% of the state eligible for an EIC.
Sun, 07/19/2015 - 8:07am
Call it a user fee....repubs should be able to get behind this term.
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 12:17pm
6% to9% that's a jump! But we as consumers will pay it anyway. A loaf of bread will go up as the trucking co. pays more. No matter your politics or what pocket it comes out of, if we get road and infrastructure repair we are paying for it. I do see it as dems wanting their voters to feel someone is on their side. Repubs don't want to rile up business and contributors. That ballot proposal was a confusing goulash that no one liked, liberal, conservative, tea party, libertarian. Sorry Rep Cotter, it wasn't a mandate for no taxes...we wanted clear language, taxes for roads dedicated to roads. Grand Rapids voted for tax hike just that way and it passed. Our streets are getting repaired.
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 12:27pm
The working poor get shafted again by the barely working wealthy. I guess I got a Bible with a misprint. The standard Republican version is "whatever you do for the wealthiest of my brethren, you do unto Me".
Fri, 07/17/2015 - 8:05am
Working POOR. read the METRO TIMES from week of JUly 1-7 2015 .How Gov. Snyder established a new Dpartment and collected $ 68 million from unemployed Worker In "penalty" at $ 9000 per case.. All because of a COMPUTER sytem .UIA /LARA check it out. So much for accountobillaty and ....
Paul DuBois
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 12:47pm
Jobs are created by demand, not supply. If a business owner is given a tax brake for a million dollars and has excess inventory, they are not going to hire more people or build new factories to just increase inventory. If the same business owner cannot keep their product in stock because it is selling off the shelves, they will find a way to expand and many banks and investors will be willing to help.
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 1:58pm
The Republican Party will come to regret hooking up with the Tea Party...that hunger for power overcame good judgement. Now they have all kinds kooks from the extremes of society claiming they represent not only the right way but the only way. We may soon see another party formed to represent real Republican political thought and let the ersatz patriots go their own way.
Charles Richards
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 2:51pm
"Instead, Democrats would divert $100 million in sales tax revenue from fuel sales from the general fund to roads, " Perhaps I am mistaken (it wouldn't be unusual), but I thought the sales tax on fuel went to the School Aid Fund. "The Senate’s plan also would redirect $700 million in general fund spending to roads, although it did not specify which departments would be affected." It wouldn't necessarily cut existing spending. Providing there is no recession in the immediate future, the natural growth of the economy will generate significant new tax revenues. The idea is to devote $700 million of those new revenues to roads rather than other departments. The other departments wouldn't be cut, they just wouldn't grow as fast as expected. If we all agree that fixing roads is important, then it is reasonable to say they are a higher priority than additional funding for other departments.
Fri, 07/17/2015 - 7:55am
School are ...funded from the lottery money . really like to see those numbers.
Jim Stansell
Sun, 07/19/2015 - 8:27pm
The sales tax collected on purchases of motor fuels is distributed in the same manner as sales tax from any other purchase, with the exception that since it's an "automotive-related" purchase, the Comprehensive Transportation Fund receives a portion of what would have gone to the General Fund. Of the first 4% of the sales tax, 60% is earmarked to the School Aid Fund (SAF) and 15% is dedicated to Constitutional revenue sharing. The SAF receives 100% of the top 2% of the sales tax. The School Aid Fund receives roughly 73% of total sales tax revenue and about 10% goes to Constitutional revenue sharing.
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 3:12pm
They were probably right when they said they did not have a plan B. Just traveled to Wisc. and the roads were great. A lot of construction and more to be done. I am so glad that the Reps got the week to go home and be with family and friends. Do we really need full time Reps who aren't full time. I feel so sorry for those who have no choice but to drive often and far. No hurry on the road projects summer is almost over. R.L.
Thu, 07/16/2015 - 4:24pm
The House did one thing on Wednesday. They declared July Ice Cream Month. The must have heard that Ashby's has a new flavor named Michigan Pot Hole. People are paying 50 times the tax that business pays in Michigan. Smokers and drinkers are paying twice the taxes that business pays in Michigan. A 3% increase that is passed on in price is a pretty painless way to fix our roads. As for the other $100 million, lets not forget the $600 million tax increase that was passed in the winter hours in February when the Republicans went after the internet. Put this solution in front of the voters and see what they have to say, or is this oligarchy just a free ride for business?
Fri, 07/17/2015 - 7:52am
here is the idee : STOP the road payment of roads that donot have potholes. STOP the changing fro 4 lane to two .till all roads have no more potholes Stop the round abouts In 1990 the road & bridge budget was $ 328 milloin under gov.Engler in 2001 the road & bridge budget went to $ 1,54 BILLION a 364% increase detroit news April 2001.
Sat, 07/18/2015 - 3:49pm
The conservative members of our legislative bodies are so frozen by the fear of being associated with any tax increase, no matter how obvious the need, that they are no longer able to govern. The halls in our state capital are filled with representatives who have lost the will to represent.