LANSING— Legislators anxious to give tax breaks to the ethanol industry are robbing money critical for Michigan’s road repair in order to do so.
“Legislators are robbing Peter to pay Paul,” said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association. “After just suffering the worst pothole season in Michigan history, legislators are once again showing their lack of commitment to fix our roads by handing over millions of dollars of road money to the ethanol industry. All the legislators we’ve met with talk a good game about how they want to see Michigan roads improved, and then at the same time they only make it worse.”
Two years ago, the Legislature passed a law that gave ethanol tax breaks. However, the law stipulated that any lost road dollars would be reimbursed from the state’s general fund or the tax break would lapse. Last year, the Legislature did not appropriate the reimbursement so the ethanol incentive program ended.
Now, legislators are seeking more ethanol tax breaks, having already broken their promise to reimburse the lost road money. Even worse, the new legislation, Senate Bills 1158-59, removes any requirement to reimburse the money to the state’s transportation fund. The bills are being considered in the Senate Agriculture Committee today.
“It’s ironic that legislators are choosing to give precious road dollars to an industry that is already booming, while putting another nail in the coffin to our deteriorating infrastructure struggling to survive,” Nystrom said. MDOT suffered a $300 million (18-percent) cut this year in the state’s road and bridge program due to declining gas tax and bond revenues.
“Drivers need to call their legislators and tell them it’s time to fix our roads,” Nystrom said.