Senators face off in debate over tax increase for roads

Colbeck challenges the assertion that tax hikes are necessary in order to repair the roads

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, on Tuesday explained in a debate with Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, how the state can repair and upgrade its crumbling roads without raising taxes. Colbeck argued that there is a path to fixing the roads that does not include a tax hike. The two senators squared off before a packed room at the state Capitol to discuss the range of options currently before legislators as they work toward the best solution to fix the state’s roads.

Following the debate, Colbeck offered the following statement:

“Today I began the debate by laying out my three goals for the discussion: 1) to obtain agreement on the problem we are trying to solve, 2) to obtain agreement on the list of options available to fix the roads, and 3) to obtain agreement on how best to fix the roads.

“While many of my fellow legislators see the problem as how to raise $1.2 billion in funds for the roads, I see the problem as how to best fix and upgrade the roads.

“Progress was made today when we agreed that the goal should be to fix the crumbling roads and not just increase spending by $1.2 billion, and agreed that there are ways to increase spending that don’t involve tax increases.

“Where we differed was on the best way to fix the roads. I believe I laid out a solution that leverages existing funds and upgrades the quality of our roads.

“I believe that this plan is quite simple and can be executed by the end of this week if the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker wish to do so.

“We need to focus on what both the House and Senate plans already passed out of each chamber have in common; namely putting $700 million in existing funds towards roads, encouraging competitive bidding, and promoting road quality through enhanced warranties. If we do, we will have found a way to fix the roads faster than they are falling apart, without raising taxes. A responsible road fix is truly within our grasp.

“I would like to thank Senator Hertel for stepping up to the plate and participating in a public debate about how to best repair and upgrade our state’s roads. I believe we were able to highlight some key differences in problem solving approaches between the traditional methods in Lansing and methods that go beyond tax increases and look for more creative, pragmatic solutions that respect taxpayers.”

Senator Colbeck’s plan to fix and upgrade our roads without increasing taxes is posted on his website at


Editor’s note: MIRS News Service in Lansing has posted a podcast of the debate in its entirety at A video of the debate will be available on Senator Colbeck’s website at

PHOTO CAPTION: Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, debates Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, on fixing Michigan’s roads without raising taxes at the Michigan Capitol on October 20, 2015.

Posted in Colbeck, Uncategorized.