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.”