Group Calls on Policymakers to Approve 9-Cent Gas Tax Increase
Monday, February 5, 2007
Posted by: Nancy Brown
The Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) unveiled comprehensive plans today to make roads safer, repair deteriorating streets and relieve traffic congestion in rapidly-growing communities. The plan would also provide a boost to the economy by providing an additional $1 billion a year to help fix the state’s crumbling and neglected transportation system.
“Doing nothing isn’t an option,” said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations at the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association. “Available dollars to fix state roads are expected to drop by over 40 percent in the next two years because we are at the end of our bond program and now must pay back the borrowed money. We are seeing the symptoms of a chronically-underfunded system and now our roads are about to get even worse.”
It is estimated that the state has a $700 million annual shortfall in maintaining the MDOT-managed system and at least $2 billion in additional needs at the local level.
The effort to provide more funding got a major boost on Thursday when the Michigan Chamber of Commerce announced its support for a 9-cent gas tax increase.
“Maintaining and improving Michigan’s transportation system is critically important to our state’s economic competitiveness,” said Rich Studley, executive vice president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
The $1 billion transportation funding proposal announced by MITA would increase the state’s gas tax three cents a year for three years. By 2010, the state’s gas tax would be 28 cents per gallon – the same rate as our neighboring state of Ohio. A nine-cent gas tax phased in over three years represents little more than an inflationary increase since the last time the gas tax was raised 10 years ago. Currently, Michigan’s gas tax is tied for 30th in the nation.
“Five to 10 dollars extra a month is a small price to pay to keep our roads and bridges safe for families and to improve the economy in Michigan,” said Nystrom. “The average road user pays $1 a day to have access to over 120,000 miles of Michigan roadways. Now is the time to address this critical need.”
Other components of the MITA plan:
• Increase vehicle registration fees by 50 percent;
• End the tax break that allows commercial trucks and other diesel-powered vehicles to get a 4-cent discount on their fuel taxes;
• Collect the vehicle registration fee for a new car at the time of purchase rather than on the purchaser’s birthday;
• Regularly retire existing license plates to cut down on registration tab scams;
• Study the feasibility of creating “Fast Lanes”, which allows toll lanes to be built alongside existing congested roadways; and
• Allow counties to seek voter approval of locally-collected gas taxes or vehicle registration fees which would remain entirely within the local community to be used specifically for transportation-related needs.