Truth Squad calls foul on ‘birthday tax’ claim on Snyder road proposal

MICHIGAN TRUTH SQUAD ANALYSIS: “Happy Birthday From Governor Snyder”

Who: Joel Charles

Featured Material: Web video

Truth Squad Call: Foul

To background sounds of the Beatles' “Birthday,” Gov. Rick Snyder is portrayed in a clownish birthday hat, noisemaker in mouth and birthday cake in front of him. What follows is an attack on Snyder's plan to hike vehicle registration fees as part of a broader scheme to raise an additional $1.2 billion in annual transportation revenue.

The funds would be aimed at refurbishing a transportation grid that has steadily deteriorated over the past decade as overall transportation revenues declined. A license plate reading “BDAY TAX” is shown atop a pile of $100 bills. Images of a motorcycle, SUV and snowmobile flash on the screen with the words, “The cost to drive is going up.” That is followed by the headline, “An 80 Percent Tax Increase From Governor Snyder,” with the words “License Fees” flashing above and below.

The sponsor of the video is listed as Joel Charles, with the ad linked as a “Favorite video” on the Michigan Democratic Party YouTube page. A party spokeswoman disavowed any knowledge of who produced or funded the ad or any connection to its content. While the identity of Joel Charles is not immediately clear, the Lansing-based MIRS news service reports that the ad will soon be on TV and “the start of what is expected to be an aggressive campaign against Snyder's road funding plan.”

Questionable statement: “The cost to drive is going up.”

In a bid to build funding for Michigan's roads and bridges, Snyder proposes hiking registration fees for large trucks and trailers and for cars and light trucks, raising about $508 million. Today’s $123 vehicle registration fee on a new $25,000 car would increase by about $80. In addition, he proposes replacing the 19-cent-per-gallon tax on gas and 15-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel with a single 33-cent-per-gallon tax on both, to be levied at the wholesale level That would raise $728 million.

Snyder's vehicle registration fee proposal also includes a local option under which counties could apply a 0.18% tax to the list price of a vehicle to raise $280 million more for local roads or public transportation.

Questionable statement: “An 80 percent Tax Increase from Governor Snyder.”

The video provides no documentation for the assertion that license fees would be hiked by 80 percent under Snyder's proposal. Snyder's plan would in fact raise registration fees for large trucks and trailers by 25 percent and for cars and light trucks by about 60 percent.

Legislation filed by Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Township and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, would raise an estimated $1.6 billion in annual additional transportation revenue. Under his proposal, registration fees on light trucks and cars would rise by about 80 percent. It would raise the registration fee on a $25,000 vehicle from $123 to $221. His proposal does not include a local option to raise registration fees.

Overall impression: The Web video focuses on a controversial linchpin to Snyder's transportation funding plan, a sharp increase in vehicle registration fees. Snyder's defends the gas tax and registration fee hikes as “a user fee. If you use the roads more, you should pay more. If you use the roads less, you should pay less. There's a correlation there, and I think people understand that." But Snyder's registration fee increase amounts to about 60 percent, not the 80 percent claimed in the video.

Foul or no foul: Foul. The governor’s proposal on registration fees would work out to a 60 percent increase, not an 80 percent one as claimed in the video.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Thu, 02/14/2013 - 11:17am
So far, I've applauded most of what Gov. Snyder has done FOR Michigan; however, this increase in gas tax is a very bad move. Michigan is in the top 10 states as having the highest gas taxes. He probably won't agree but it will curtail small business activities i.e., offsite meetings with clients, gas surcharge passed along to their clients for deliveries. Employees who commute to jobs that are not nearby - thus draining their paychecks and the un-employed perhaps limiting their scopes for a job. Another aspect, Discover Michigan - (See the USA)...who will be able to afford the gas; most families will think twice. I think, Gov. Snyder, this will have a definite effect all around - and, not a positve one.
Thu, 02/14/2013 - 11:58am
Strongly support this focused tax to improve infrastructure and would happily pay more (remember I live in AA which has the worst streets in state in my opinion). This is improvements we can control as opposed to national amorphous "infrastructure" from Washington.
Big D
Thu, 02/14/2013 - 2:06pm
Interesting that dems are decrying raising taxes. It is a travesty that we have so much money raised from road users already, that was originally intended to fund road maintenance, that has been redirected over the years to vaguely related and completely unrelated uses. Now is the time to acknowledge the theft, and rectify it. There are a huge number of us who cannot support any new tax unless and until this is addressed responsibly. Us retirees just got hit with a huge tax increase. Maybe we should just sell our cars and start riding the "free" bus services (funded by you know what)...another case where privatization could save the govt and the taxpayer a lot.
Jim Zielske
Fri, 02/15/2013 - 9:36am
.......with the ad linked as a “Favorite video” on the Michigan Democratic Party YouTube page. Seems like there is a pattern here of Democrats misleading the voting public.....Why?
Sun, 02/17/2013 - 3:22pm
Let all of us face the facts. No matter how you vote, It is time for Michigan to do something to fix our roads. It makes no sense to prolong the problem as it only gets worse and thens cost more to fix. It makeslittle sense to argue about how they are paid for. WHO PAYS FOR THEM? the consumer and all of us are consumers and taxpayers both. You either pay it directly or through the price you pay for what you buy. Nothing is dilivered to you personally or to the stores where you shop for free. the only problem is the leaches who want someone else to pay their part.