LANSING, Mich. (May 21, 2014) – The Michigan Senate is now considering the fate of a package of bills that’s expected to generate more than $1.5 billion more in funding to repair crumbling roads and bridges.
After Sen. Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) dropped the billion dollar bombshell in Lansing on Tueday, senators spent much of Wednesday behind closed doors.
Members of the Infrastructure Modernization Committee sent the package of bills to the full chamber Wednesday morning.
Among the measures, a substitute for House Bill 5477 was adopted by the committee.
It would increase the percentage tax on gasoline to 9.5 percent starting in January 2015, then gradually increasing it to 13.5 percent in January 2018.
The substituted HB 5477 would put an end to the current fuel taxes of 19 cents per gallon and 15 cents per gallon on diesel by Dec. 31, 2014.
The committee also sent to the floor a substitute for HB 4630. This measure would remove a provision that currently allows a reduced registration fee over three years for those who have purchased a new vehicle.
HB 5493, SB 149 and SB 6 are also now in front of the full Senate.
SB 6, introduced by Sen. John Proos (R-St. Joseph), continues annually an earmark of $100 million in state sales tax for road funding.
SB 149 replaced the diesel and gas tax with the higher sales tax.
After the Senate session was adjourned for the day, Sen. Richardville said he was confident he could pass the measures in a bipartisan way.
However, Democrats are raising concerns about how the bills would impact the poor.
“Democrats stand ready to pass a real road funding package that will make a long-term investment that’s so desperately needed,” said Democratic spokesman Robert McCann. “Unfortunately, the package as introduced by the Republicans isn’t there yet as it puts an incredible tax burden on low-income families who can least afford it. We’re hopeful that Republicans will now sit down with us and negotiate something that’s truly in the best interest of Michigan’s roads and working families.”
Richardville says members of his party want to continue talking about the bills before taking any action, which could come Tuesday or Wednesday next week.
The Majority Leader says anything less than passing these bills is “shirking” responsibility and now is the time to “fix the damn roads.”
When asked whether his plan has been discussed with House leadership, they were only warned “be ready for something bold.”