As a possible state government shutdown looms, MITA lobbyists have been busy working the corridors of the state capitol. From raids on road dollars, to gas tax tweaks, new taxes on services, ground water discharge fees or possible government shutdown, the mutations are endless as the budget crisis negotiations reach fever pitch.
Sales Tax on Services
A discussion on placing a sales tax on various services from haircuts to legal services has been in play since the governor initially proposed the idea early this year. MITA joined the effort to kill the proposal because it could possibly mean a major tax increase on construction services. The idea seemed all but dead by last month. Debate shifted from a sales tax on services to a sales tax on “luxury items” like tickets to sporting and other entertainment events. Until the budget issue is resolved, this issue will continue to be on the negotiating table and MITA will continue to lead the fight against “construction services” being part of any fix.
AT&T Road Dollar Raid
In an apparent effort to garner support from AT&T for a new phone tax, House Appropriations Chairman George Cushingberry inserted language in the MDOT budget that would require the state to reimburse AT&T for utility relocation on state right-of-ways. The estimated price tag: $44 million per year from state transportation funds. Because the state provides the utility free right-of-way access in exchange for relocating the utilities during construction, the proposal is completely out of line.
MITA has lobbied hard on this issue in recent weeks, speaking with every member of the House-Senate Transportation budget conference committee as well as the Speaker and Majority Leader’s offices. Although the proposal appears to be headed for the scrap heap, MITA will continue our strong opposition and will not be taking anything for granted.
Gas Tax Tweaks
It was recently reported that legislators began discussing the idea of removing a portion of the gas tax and replacing it with an increased sales tax. It appears these discussions have been very limited in scope and, unfortunately, such a plan would not necessarily provide any new money to transportation. However, MITA staff will keep an eye on any opportunity that may present itself to push our transportation funding initiative.
If you have any questions please contact Mike Nystrom, Vice President of Government and Public Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Keith Ledbetter, Director of Legislative Affairs at email@example.com; or by calling the MITA office at (517) 347-8336.