Port Huron Times Herald: Newspaper's gas tax idea won't work
Thursday, January 29, 2009
This point of view was submitted to the Port Huron Times Herald by MITA's Vice President of Government and Public Relations Mike Nystrom.
The Times Herald dropped a huge lump of coal in the stockings of Michigan students and local officials shortly before Santa was to arrive in St. Clair County.
The newspaper's Dec. 23 editorial, "Deceit, spin mar debate on fuel tax," said the state should get rid of the sales tax on gasoline and replace it with a gas tax dedicated to roads.
While we agree the state needs to invest significant new resources in our crumbling infrastructure, the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association has been very careful to create a plan that would not fix roads at the expense of schools and local governments. The hastily-crafted Times Herald proposal would cost schools about $500 million next year and local governments as much as $150 million.
In the article, the newspaper also intimated that somehow MITA hid the details of the proposal or were deceiving legislators and the public in some way. We were quite surprised the Times Herald would make such uninformed claims, as if the newspaper is somehow tied into the inner workings of the legislative process.
The fact is we have had more than 160 meetings with legislators in the past year and a half, and we provided reams of data and facts on transportation funding trends. We also were part of countless public and legislative hearings on the topic.
The MITA proposal that would like transportation taxes to fuel prices was based on a recommendation put forward by the governor's Transportation Funding Task Force after almost a full year of research and discussion.
In your paper's hasty attempt to cast aspersions on a road funding solution supported by numerous major daily newspapers across the state, you failed to do your homework, got your facts wrong and offered a proposal which would gut education and local governments.
Perhaps you can now better appreciate the complexity of finding a solution to Michigan's transportation funding dilemma.