Supporters of increased Michigan road funding continue to make a strong push in the Capitol, as the Legislature's immediate attention turns beyond budget crises and taxes.
Road builders and others also are looking at new options in the wake of Michigan's recent $1.5 billion in tax hikes that could make a sought-after increase in Michigan's gasoline tax a tougher sell.
One idea: To raise Michigan's gas tax but offset it with a reduction in Michigan's sales tax on gasoline, mitigating the pocketbook pain for motorists but sending more money toward maintaining and building roads and bridges.
Given new increases in the state income tax and Michigan Business Tax, funding proponents are looking at how to "come up with a plan that is palatable to residents," said Keith Ledbetter, director of legislative affairs for the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, or MITA.
The Okemos-based group represents road and bridge builders, underground contractors and other construction interests, and is a leader of a coalition seeking increased transportation funding.
Ledbetter said MITA officials and members have met with Gov. Jennifer Granholm and legislative leaders and soon plan to present "a number of different options ... in terms of how we can provide additional dollars for transportation."