Road Funding – The Rest of the Story

 

The “fix” is in. Many in Lansing would have you believe that the only solution to our crumbling roads is to raise taxes. They promote statistics like “Michigan ranks last among the 50 states in per capita road expenditures”. These headlines are designed to lead citizens to the conclusion that we simply don’t pay enough in taxes.

Funny thing about the per capita road spending statistic.only the mafia prices out pavement contracts based on the number of bodies. Road construction projects are typically priced out according to the number of miles to be paved. Guess where Michigan ranks when it comes to how many dollars per mile we spend on our roads? 13th. In fact, Michigan spends 53% more per mile than the national average (SOURCE: Reason Foundation, www.reason.org/studies/show/20th-annual-highway-report ). This information would tend to lead citizens to a much different conclusion. Perhaps we have a problem with how we are spending the $3.3B already allocated to transportation?

In support of this assertion, we should note that Indiana spends roughly the same amount per mile on their roads. Do you know where they ranked in pavement condition? #1. Do you know where Michigan ranked in the same analysis? 43rd. Clearly, the solution to our transportation infrastructure woes needs to look at much more than tax revenue.

If the recent “road solution” would have passed as proposed, we would have been paying $0.44/gallon more at the pump.and that assumes that the price of gas itself remained constant. For every dollar increase in the price of gas, the tax on gas would have increased another $0.07/gallon. If it would have passed we would have been treated to one of the largest tax increases in Michigan history.

Furthermore, the increase in the diesel tax from $0.15/gallon to $0.19/gallon would have not only increased the price of fuel for truckers, it would have further increased the price of the goods they transport on our behalf such as groceries.

The backup plan to this approach was to put a 1% sales tax increase on the ballot for voters to decide. Once again, the focus was on a tax increase as the “solution”.

I am proud to have constituents that are not falling for this false narrative. When we talk about road funding, they ask, “Don’t we already pay the 5th highest gas tax in the country? Why isn’t it going to fix our roads?” Our taxpayers know better. They deserve better solutions.

During my rookie term in elected office, I have been working hard to do just that. My road funding plan outlines how to fix our roads without raising taxes. The plan focuses on spending priorities (i.e. appropriations policy), expense reductions, and innovative revenue sources. You can see the plan for yourself at www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com.

Lost in the recent noise from the “tax first” crowd was the observation that the Senate did pass several bills that align quite well with my proposed road funding strategy. We passed two appropriations policy reform bills (SB 6 and SB 149) that ensure that taxes raised for roads go toward roads. Furthermore, we have already allocated $737M more General Fund money toward roads in just the FY14 and FY15 budgets than had been allocated under the previous administration. We have also passed several bills that would reduce road construction expenses (HB 4251, 5460, and 5167).

Despite all of this progress, we are still being led to believe by some that the Senate failed to address the “road problem”. Our roads did not crumble in a day. They will not be fixed in a day. Clearly, though, we have done more to fix our roads in the past two months than the previous administration did in eight years.

While the majority of us struggled through a long, difficult winter that took a toll on our spirits as well as our roads, some reflected upon how the resulting road “crisis” could be used to justify increased taxes. The only solutions that will satisfy them feature taking more money out of your pockets to put into their pockets. Winter may be over, but be prepared for another snow job this summer as voters are being led to believe that the only “fix” for our crumbling roads features higher taxes.

Posted in Editorials, Uncategorized.