Colbeck rejects politics-as-usual tax increase road solution

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate voted Tuesday on a road funding package that featured tax and fee increases totaling $600 million, plus another $600 million from existing funds for a total of $1.2 billion in additional funding for roads.

Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, has long asserted that the key to a sustainable roads plan is simply to fix roads faster than they degrade.  “Too much effort has been focused on finding ways to throw more money at the roads and too little effort has been expended toward increasing the quality of our roads,” Colbeck said.

“I voted no on the hike in vehicle registration fees (HB 4736) and gas tax rates (HB 4738),” said Colbeck. “I voted yes on bills that would help our citizens including bills to reduce the state income tax (SB 414) and dedicate $600M in existing funds to roads while expanding the Homestead Property Tax Credit (HB 4370). I also voted yes on a bill that specifies warranty requirements (HB 4737), although I was disappointed that it lacks key enforcement provisions that were in the original Senate package.”

Colbeck’s statement on the Senate floor featured the following remarks:

“Another day, another tax increase proposal. The same citizens who voted in opposition to a proposal to increase our taxes by a 4 to 1 margin are now being asked to deal with a number of cost increases in their lives.

“The price of groceries is going up. The price of health care continues to go up. The price of a college education continues to go up at more than four times the rate of inflation. The price of electricity continues to go up. The price of water and sewage continues to go up. Now, our citizens are being subjected to an increase in the price of government.

“We all agree that we need to fix the roads.

“We all agree that it takes money to fix the roads.

“In light of all the financial pressures upon our families due to increasing costs in all facets of their lives, don’t you think it would be the responsible thing to do to find ways to fix the roads without taking more of their money?

“They pay us to pinch the pennies of state government so that they do not have to pinch pennies at their kitchen table.

“Over the past five years, our state budget has increased from $46.8 billion to $54.5 billion, yet we are told that we don’t have enough money to fix the roads with existing funds.

“What is a higher priority than roads? Is every line item in this $54.5 billion budget a higher priority than our roads? If not, we do not need to increase taxes.

“Why do we need to increase taxes then? I issued a debate challenge to find an answer to that very question. The question remains open.

“The fact remains that we do not need to increase taxes to pay for our roads.

“It is time to dispense with politics-as-usual. With politics-as-usual, tax increases are always the first and last option pursued. It is time to break this pattern and put our thinking caps on.

“The key to a sustainable roads solution is to fix the roads faster than they degrade. Too much time has been spent on throwing more money at the problem in the hopes of fixing roads faster.  Too little time has been spent on finding ways to make roads that last longer.

“The fact remains that there are ways to make roads last longer that won’t break the bank. There are additives that would cost 15 percent more per project but yield roads that last four times as long. Let’s upgrade to roads that last four times longer! In the long run, it would lower our road maintenance costs from the $4.5 billion target that we’re currently proposing to well within our current $3.3 billion funding levels.

“Our citizens deserve better. Ever wonder why the approval ratings of legislators on both sides of the aisle are so low? This is why.”

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Posted in Colbeck, Uncategorized.