Detroit News: Stop road dollars diversion to state agency
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Detroit News Editorial Rebuttal: Stop road dollars diversion to state agency
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It was quite interesting to read the column by Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land suggesting that we reform state highway spending before providing any new money for roads and bridges ("Reform state highway spending first," Dec. 24). We welcome Land's recent interest in helping solve our transportation crisis and look forward to working with her.
We certainly agree that the state would be well served by implementing many of the extensive reforms recommended by both the Mackinac Center and the governor's Transportation Funding Task Force at the end of last year.
It was interesting to note that one major reform Land failed to mention from the Mackinac Center report was the one aimed directly to her department, the diversion of road dollars to the Secretary of State's office. According to the report, more than $100 million per year is diverted from the Michigan Transportation Fund to pay for Secretary of State operations.
While it is true the department collects vehicle registration fees for transportation and should be compensated for those services, the report concluded that those charges were excessive and should be slashed 50 percent, or $50 million. Consider that it only costs the state roughly $10 million for the Department of Treasury to collect $1 billion in gas taxes, but it costs the Secretary of State 10 times as much to collect roughly the same amount in registration fees.
As Land suggests, one way to "watch our wallets" would be to save millions of dollars by allowing motorists to either renew their vehicle registrations online or at retailers much like our hunting and fishing licenses. Cutting out the expensive overhead of fee collection at Secretary of State branch offices would cut down on the long lines and ensure money collected for roads and bridges are spent as taxpayers intended.
Vice President of Government and Public Relations
Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association