Opinion | My Michigan roads plan won’t break your pocketbook

State Rep. Jeff Yaroch, R-Richmond, represents the 33rd district, covering part of Macomb County.

Update: Michigan Senate panel rejects Whitmer gas tax, as budget dance continues

We’ve finally heard the governor’s plan to fix Michigan’s roads – a ridiculous 45-cent per gallon tax increase she proposed during her recent budget presentation.

There’s no way I can possibly support that plan – especially when Macomb County is a donor to the state transportation system. We pay far more in taxes and registration than we get back under the state’s road funding formula, and our roads suffer as a result.

If I am going to disagree with Gov. Whitmer, then I should be prepared with my own plan. That is why I have reintroduced my roads plan in the Michigan Legislature.

First things first, let’s not wait until 2020 to fully implement the already existing road funding plan adopted in 2015, before I came to the House. The state already raised gas taxes and registration fees. Let’s commit $600 million of the state income tax to roads now, rather than waiting to until 2020, as provided under the 2015 plan. This not a tax increase; it is committing tax dollars we already collect and redirecting it to roads. House Bill 4263 is a crucial first step. 

Another key step is getting better use from our state’s investment in economic development. Potholes are one of the biggest roadblocks to Michigan’s growth. The solution: Focus more of our economic development resources on fixing our roads, which would be accomplished through my plan. I have introduced House Bill 4093, which is a good starting point to move money from the strategic fund to roads. Let’s encourage Michigan to thrive by investing in our roads.

It is time for Macomb County to stop being a donor county. We pay more into the system than we get back because of our broken road funding formula. The current road funding formula considers the length of the road ‒ but ignores the width of the road. It does not make sense to fund a two-lane road the same as you would a five-lane road. My bill, HB 4062, would be one fix to this system and more fairly distribute road funds across Michigan.

We should allow townships to take jurisdiction of their roads and receive road funding directly from the state as opposed to going through the county. Many townships already provide water and sewer systems, and it only makes sense that it would be more efficient to give townships the opportunity to coordinate roads, water and sewer in one plan. 

As for the governor’s proposal to raise the gas tax by 45 cents – Macomb County residents are already paying enough in taxes.

The 2015 road plan that came about before I came to the Michigan House hasn’t even been fully implemented yet. Before we start talking about raising taxes again, let’s prioritize road funding in the upcoming budget and fix the road funding formula which shortchanges Macomb County.

It’s time for us to govern and get this done.

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Comments

Kevin Grand
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 6:54am

While, it doesn't address the obvious quality problem with road construction here in Michigan, it is another step in the right direction.

What's disappointing regarding this issue, is the fact that up until this point, The Bridge trotted out all of these "experts" extolling us that a laughably high tax hike was literally the only alternative for Michigan Roads.

This is the second piece in about a week telling us that is not the case.

I cannot help but wonder what else The Bridge staff doesn't feel is worth telling us?

Matt
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:14am

Because of the nature of and people who tend towards journalism and other similar fields there is a prejudice that every problem is to be solved by greater government involvement and accompanying taxation. Small things sometimes make a big difference but don't make a good story!

Robert Honeyman
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 6:57am

A plan with no tax increase to pay for road repair is no plan. But this comes from a GOP member, so no surprise. They had eight years to do something, but tax cuts are ultimately all the GOP cares about. Road repair is just a meaningless phrase to these people. If you want to increase critical spending, you must add new revenues to pay for it.

Robert C Gothard
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:17am

Did you click and read his bill? evidently not, he has a plan. Start using the tax dollars from the 2015 tax raises instead of it sitting their drawing interest.

Robert Honeyman
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:10pm

From Freep:

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/03/07/governor-whit...

Is the money from the 2015 package being spent on roads?

For the most part, yes.

Of the $880 million in extra funds the package was expected to raise this year, $319 million was to be spent on state trunk lines (the ones with an "I", "M", or "US" in front of their names); $312 million on county roads; and $173 million on city and village roads. Another $69 million is going to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund, which supports public transit, about $6 million to recreation, and $3 million to rail.

That's according to a 2015 House Fiscal Agency analysis of the 2015 road funding package, adjusted to account for a 2018 law that boosted the amount of general fund revenue going to roads in 2019.

Kevin Grand
Sat, 03/16/2019 - 7:58am

And in 2017, the Michigan Legislature quietly transferred some $400-million in Transportation funding into the GF after revenues from the gas tax/registration hikes began to coming in.

It's all a shell game that needs to end.

ozzfest89
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 8:15pm

So, that is about 1/3 of the money needed. That's still not a plan.

Walt Sorg
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 9:35am

You blithely call for redirecting $600 from the general fund budget to transportation without identifying what you'd cut elsewhere. If you think there's "waste and fat" in the $10-billion general fund budget, it has apparently gotten past former Gov. Snyder and the Republican legislatures over the last 8 years.
Without identifying what programs you'd cut, the proposal to divert $600-million into the transportation fund is just wishful thinking.

Steve
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:04am

Walt, I could not agree with you more. This is a GOP shell game, moving around money to "solve" problems rather than facing the fact that more revenue is needed to address roads and education.

Robert C Gothard
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:14am

In 2015 taxes were already raised. They aren't using it yet. what's that all about? USE IT

Rob Peter 2 Pay Paul
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 3:41pm

The legislature only raised $600M. The other $600M was never identified. It still isn’t identified and this bill is just another terrible example of the fact that the state needs more revenue. Michigan has the 11th lowest taxes in the nation and it now shows.

Lags
Sun, 03/31/2019 - 1:18pm

Spent in lame duck. Yeah got me a million dollar paddle boat! You guy are suckers!! Thanks for paying your taxes!!!

TKD
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 9:49am

Depends where the $600M is diverted from.

Robert C Gothard
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:10am

I agree with your plan but I also have a recommendation. Rural areas don't get enough funding. The U.P. for instance has some of the worst. Missaukee County roads are atrocious. Why don't we make road contractors warranty and guarantee their work? We had a 3.2 mile stretch of our road paved 1 1/2 years ago. Approximately 600 cracks horizontally in less than a year and already busting up. Please consider t the e follwing.
1) Tax pot- Pot taxes for Potholes
2) Raise Alcohol taxes
3) Raise Tobacco prices and vape products.
4) Raise taxes on drug paraphernalia
5) Raise taxes on strip clubs and sex shops.
These are products that people don't need for daily functions.
SENIORS AND DISABLED VETERANS on a fixed income can't handle 45 cents a gallon. Our farm donates food baskets to Seniors and Veterans. They are to prideful to say much but they are choosing between insurance, medicine or food. It's disgusting how Michigan treats their Seniors and Veterans.
Thank You, 3DF

Cliff
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 9:55pm

Wait - why not tax churches and especially church property? Religious schools, especially colleges/universities buy up all kinds of property in cities and towns which instantly go off the tax roles. Sure, have the church building and maybe the parsonage tax free, but why should they be allowed to buy more and more ancillary property and not pay their fair share to maintain roads, water, and sewers?

Matt
Sat, 03/16/2019 - 9:41am

So tax private religious schools? How about public schools and u's too? Uof M and MSU own a lot of property.

Mary Fox
Fri, 03/22/2019 - 9:58am

You can charge a use tax to citizens but what you suggest defies reason.

Charlotte Morton
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 4:21pm

Why would we tax facilities that give back to the community and whose members already pay for those things? That is not even close to a solution.

Janet Wagner
Mon, 05/13/2019 - 9:09am

...AND raise taxes on soft drinks! Sorry, Coca Cola lovers. It's bad for your health and your teeth anyways. This tax is working at raising revenues for several states.

Dave Coffman
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:24am

Representative: we aren't from Michigan but we are leaving as soon as we can after 2 years here. Amongst other reasons: Your state doesn't invest in itself and the infrastructure makes everything from water to roads unsafe.

You talk about economic development? Good luck when over the last 30 years you've neglected your jobs and the state. . So no, this expert in water law won't stay.

Rick
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:37pm

Yes. This is the problem the Michigan GOP has been ignoring for years with one stupid answer after another. And look where we are!

John Tiemstra
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:35am

The author clearly cares about his own county, but what about the rest of the state? If he doesn't want a tax increase, where's the money going to come from? I'm sorry, this is just a bunch of political hot air.

Lisa Patrell
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:53am

Your 600M comes from the K-12 fund. When is the GOP going to STOP robbing one fund to fill another. This is head-in-the-sand approach and NOT good governance.

If you don't like $0.45 hike, let's get that amount down by restoring corporate tax rates to 6% and closing other corporate-gimmes.

Matt
Mon, 03/18/2019 - 7:54am

Done ,corporate tax rates are 6%.

montana
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:00am

Michigan takes in $13B in Tax Revenues Annually, Universities and Outstanding Student Loans escalated 200% the last 8 Years - ALSO State funded by $1.5B per Year. Michigan suffers from an outdated overbuilt infrastructure as the "Amazon Generation" becomes more efficient in purchases and needs. Where is the plan to redefine and rebuild over the current perpetual spending on legacy designs and routes? Transformation of Detroit and Burbs is LONG OVERDUE! There needs to be some HARD decisions - as WE WATCH the South Grow with New Industry Investments and Michigan decay as Deaths to Births are 3:1. NEED clear ACCOUNTABILITY in Spending!!

Jason
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:05pm

This isn't a plan. It isn't even an outline of a plan. It's a bit of vague hand-waving that doesn't explain what other services would be cut. What kind of fiscally incompetent fraud would present this as a plan?

Kevin Shopshire
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:15pm

That’s a road plan? Nowhere does it come close to raisin g the $2.5 billion needed just to bring the roads up to par. After decades of disinvestment, more revenue is needed to fix our roads. Period. The roads in Michigan have been neglected for too long. A 2015 study ranked Michigan 46 out of all 50 states in the amount spent on highways per capita.

Jo Anne Hite
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:20pm

We are waiting for someone to implement weight restrictions on semi's so the roads won't be in constant need of repair. Until that happens, you're throwing our money out the window.

Bart Hole
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:33pm

I have been looking to see where the taxes that have ALREADY been levied have actually been applied??

One solution I liked was: "A 45¢ tax on every gallon of water removed by businesses in the form of drinking water."

Nestle is essentially printing money with MICHIGAN'S natural resources. Somehow people are letting them get away with this!

Berry Visel
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 1:16pm

You can’t equate water and sewer funding with roads. Water and sewer funding, if done right, are enterprise funds paid for by user fees, not general fund revenue. Unfortunately too many communities have not charged a sufficient user fee to maintain and replace their systems as needed. The road funding problem should be dealt with separately. Where the two come together is coordination of planning for project upgrades rather than digging up things separately, which I’m glad to see some communities are doing.

Wolfgang Von Trout
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 1:37pm

A 45 cent increase in gas taxes is a travesty? Gimme a break! The price of gasoline fluctuates so much from week to week that most people will hardly notice the tax increase. A few weeks ago gas was selling for less than $2 per gallon. It is now up to $2.65 in my neck of the woods. It was not so long ago that gas cost over $4 a gallon. Forty-five cents is a pittance.

Bill Scarborough
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 2:30pm

This is a rediculous plan. The first step, spending the already allotted funds from registration fees, etc., is a no brainer. The second step is just another example of raiding money set aside for one purpose & spending it for something else. Most importantly this plan does not address the lack of funding for public education & universities, which the Whitmer plan does address.

Holly
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 2:53pm

Governor Whitmer is right in that we have to do something big for infrastructure and public education to get our state back on track. The Republicans have tried every way of small changing, shifting money from one pot to the next with no viable and necessary solution. We need to stand up and do this! Whitmer would double the Earned Income Tax Credit to help low income residents who are affected by the gas tax. For the Republicans to cling to their no-new-taxes stand while so much in our state crumbles around them is unconscionable.

Kathy Skomski
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 3:41pm

Your party had control for the past eight years, and even though you weren't in office that entire time, why were the roads issues not addressed? I am not happy with the .45 gas tax increase but I will say that a financial audit should take place so the citizens of Michigan know how previous tax increases were actually used. And by the way, when the party in power for the last eight years gave significant tax breaks to businesses, it is easy to see how the roads issues were ignored.

holzwom
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 4:15pm

I am a Republican who supports the Governor's approach to fixing the infrastructure problem. The Governor and the leaders in both the House and Senate appear to agree that the 2015 road funding plan was not enough money to fully address the issue; and it will take another $2B in spending annually to actually fix the problem. While I would agree that the state has a long-term spending issue surrounding the acceleration of Medicaid and pension expenses, infrastructure funding was set up to be a "user fee" based tax; and our state (like many) has failed to keep those taxes in line with the true expense of maintaining our roads. Now we have a major price-tag for that neglect. I don't fault the Synder administration for focusing more on getting the state through the last recession, but we now need to solve this issue. The gas tax may or may not end up at the $.45 level, but the money has to come from somewhere. So, accolades to the Governor for not attempting to put another band-aid on a problem that is crippling the state.

Steve
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 4:25pm

Where are the facts whether Macomb County is a "donor" county? I see none.

In the meantime, it's easy to say "redirect $600 million" from someone else's preferred spending when you know the Governor will veto it.

The posturing continues.

Cliff
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 9:58pm

Yup - the GOP can pass more bills/laws in the last two weeks of "lame duck" than they did in two years. They have ruled Michigan for 8 years with smoke and mirrors and let the infrastructure crumble. Foreign Corporations like Nestle and Enbridge tell Lansing what to do and get every break in the world. Where was this plan for the last 8 years? The last 4 years - heck, where was it during the last two weeks of 2018? Nah, just wait and bitch when someone wants to do something real.

Michigan Resident
Sat, 03/16/2019 - 9:13am

Diverting funds from something that will need those funds is not a plan, and based on past tax diversions, I'm sure schools will be the one of the first places money will be pulled from and Michigan schools are already ranked some of the worst in the country. A little investment now will HELP our "pocketbooks" later.

If you're so concerned about the road formula being wrong, then fix THAT.

Carl
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 3:20am

“Let’s commit $600 million of the state income tax to roads now,”

Rep. Yaroch, you didn’t mention: Which other parts of the Michigan budget would you take that $600 million from?

How much money should we take from the strategic fund? Can we take all we need? Can we take money from the strategic fund indefinitely? If not, how long can we do that before we deplete that fund? What then?

How much would your plan implement this year? In future years?

I agree that Macomb County probably gets a bad deal on paying more in than it gets back on road taxes. How much more does Macomb County pay into the system than it receives? Should each county get exactly the same amount back in road budget than it pays to the state? Or should the formula be based on vehicle miles traveled in that county?

If more taxes are necessary to pay for roads, and you feel a gas tax increase is unacceptable, would you support abn increase in income tax?

Robert Kennedy
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 10:01am

Republicans want to continue playing the great shell game. Rob Peter to pay Paul and then tell us you solved the problem. Gretchen looked at the total picture and figured out a comprehensive solution just as she said she would.

Charlotte Morton
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 4:27pm

The way the concrete lobbyist control the what materials we use on the roads, is a shame. Concrete is more expensive and less forgiving with our temperature changes that crack up these roads. Asphalt is cheaper, quicker and more flexible in our climate. The sand and gravel companies really put a lot of money into lobbyists who sway the politicians. That needs to stop. I 69 is nothing but a patched up wash board nearly the whole way across our state. The materials and methods we use might make our roads less expensive in the long run. Plastic roads are now being used abroad using recycled plastic bottles, etc. Just a thought.

john brown
Mon, 03/18/2019 - 7:04am

Prior to Gov. Engler's 37 cent per gallon gas tax, (yes I said Engler) Wayne county was allowed 80 THOUSAND DOLLARS, per mile, per ROAD to keep them up. They were then and likely still are, the worst roads in the state. All you politicians need to quit misappropriating our money! The taxes and policies in this state and our nation have gotten out of hand. If one holds public office, one should be ashamed of the poor service to constituents over the last 40 years. (let that sink in a minute).

Brian
Mon, 03/18/2019 - 8:22pm

I’m still looking for the “plan” that he presents. Where do I look next?

Al Churchill
Mon, 03/18/2019 - 9:43pm

My opinion of this article and a previous article titled "Hell no to Governor Whitmer's new taxes says , Sen. Peter Lucido" have been expressed in the, largely, negative criticism aimed at the two authors. The Republicans had eight years to fix the roads and what did they do? They raised the axle weight of the semis using Michigan roads and funneled $20 million to a private project of a former chairman of the Republican party. Particularily public school students paid the price when the school aid fund was depleted for other pet projects favored by the deplorables. The two articles in question are the two most juvenile, self-serving, seemingly deliberately deceptive articles to ever appear in Bridge magazine.

Norman Vance
Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:30am

Allow sports book gambling in Michigan and have all the taxes received from this to go only to fixing our roads.

Jim tomlinson
Thu, 05/02/2019 - 12:16pm

Some county has to be a donor county. Macomb county chauvinism is legendary and arrogant. Pols from macomb have a checkered history at best when it comes to veracity. Guessing mr. yaroch is a classic macomb pol.