Proposal 1: Road funding solution or highest tax hike in decades?

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In just two weeks, Michigan voters will decide whether or not to adopt Proposal 1, the road funding issue.

If approved, the proposal would generate $2 billion by increasing the state sales tax from six to seven percent, creating a new and higher gasoline tax. Most of the revenue would be spent on road and transportation funding and repair. However, nearly half of the money generated would go to other issues not related to roads, such as increasing funding for public school districts and prohibiting public universities from receiving money from the state’s School Aid Fund.

It’s no question that Michigan’s roads are beat up.

“We have Pure Michigan advertising campaigns that’s national, that’s trying to draw people into our community,” said Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “They come into our world-class airport, they come into our beautiful state, and they experience horrendous roads.”

But some in opposition of Prop 1 said this is the largest tax increase in decades and not enough of the funding would go to road repair.

“It’s a $2 billion tax increase that only at best 60 percent is spent on transportation," said Paul Mitchell, chair of the Coalition Against Higher Taxes and Special Interest Deals. "Of that, only part is spent on the roads; the remainder is spent on a variety of other things that have nothing to do with the roads."

Meanwhile a national transportation research group out of Washington D.C. called TRIP released a report Monday, which states Michigan roads are expected to get even worse due to a lack of funding.

TRIP’s research projected 53 percent of state roads to be in poor condition by 2025, which plays into economic growth. “While the state’s economy has begun to rebound in recent years, after a devastating downturn, that recovery could be put in jeopardy if the state’s transportation system is not adequate to handle the growth,” said Carolyn Kelly, associate director of research and communication for TRIP.

The report also stated that 4,600 people were killed on Michigan’s roads in the last five years, but opponents say the report’s reasoning on dangerous roads is skewed. “The report, if you read it, it says that a third of all traffic accidents, serious or fatal traffic accidents, they’re caused by environmental factors that include snow, sleet, rain, road debris, and in fact road conditions aren’t even mentioned on that list,” said Mitchell. “It’s an example of misleading the voters and trying to scare them.”

The Kent County Road Commission Managing Director Steve Warren told FOX 17 he supports Prop 1 or another solution that would be of similar magnitude. If passed, Prop 1 would double the commission's annual budget for road maintenance and repair, Warren said.

“Proposal 1 provides $21 million more to the Kent County Road Commission when it’s fully implemented” said Warren. "It’s going to take a solution of that size, that significance, to get us to where we want to be."

Yet opponents like Mitchell hold onto the fact that Prop 1 is the largest tax increase in decades and call on the legislature to find another solution.

“It’s responsible government: using the money efficiently that you have, reflecting the priorities of the citizens, not interest groups," explained Mitchell, "and if you can’t get the job done, then asking the citizens for a tax increase.”

“They haven’t done steps one and two, and they’re going to step three. That’s not public policy that’s even good politics; that’s the worst form of deal making.”

According to U.S. Census data, if Prop 1 passes, a typical Michigan household could expect to spend an additional $500 in state taxes next year.

 

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17 comments

  • Pips

    “Most of the revenue would be spent on road and transportation funding and repair. However, nearly half of the money generated would go to other issues not related to roads”
    Does nearly half of something leave most of it left?
    If I took nearly half of your salary would you say you get to keep most of it?

    • Henry David

      I’m voting NO on Proposal 1. If it was guaranteed that 100% of a tax increase would go to roads and bridges for as long as it was in effect and if it had a sunset clause that could not be rescinded later ……. then I would vote for a tax increase …… but only under those conditions. Otherwise, I’m just voting to screw myself and others.

  • Paul Reissmann

    This is another forever tax that will saddle Michigan taxpayers. The actual amount going to road repair is small compared to the revenue generated. By their own estimates $800 million of the amount was to go to ROAD INDEBTNESS from past work. This proposal is all smoke and mirrors. Shame on our Govenor and Represenatives for putting this on the May ballot!

  • adam

    How about they specify how many of those deaths was caused by pot holes, not many if any at all, how many was caused by drunk drivers a lot if not most, do something about that. this proposal 3 is like giving a drunk another drink have we had enough yet?

  • adam

    How about they specify how many of those deaths was caused by pot holes, not many if any at all, how many was caused by drunk drivers a lot if not most, do something about that. this proposal 1 is like giving a drunk another drink have we had enough yet?

  • Kevin W

    How much money was spent installing cable barriers between highways that could have been spent repairing roads. Plus today I get a letter from Walker city looking for donations to build a pedestrian tunnel under M45 they need 1,000,000 to match the 1.1 million MDOT has agreed to pay. What? We have no money for roads, but we do for tunnels. I’d vote for it if it ALL went to roads and we quit throwing money around like it’s someone else’s.

  • Zegota

    Understand that this is a tax increase, including a increase in wholesale fuel and increase taxes on the trucking industry, now do you seriously believe that the general public will not see any cost being forward on to them, in the costs of goods. I will vote no…

    • Galane

      That’s how they got the lottery in Idaho, pitching it as an answer to all the school funding needs. But wait, a large chunk of the income goes to the “permanent building fund” and other things that aren’t school related.

  • Dequis Nightfall

    Granted are roads need to be fixed; all moneys need to be put toward this effort not just part of it. Some of the moneys are going for education, where the lotto with its original intent was to go strictly too education. The first year the Lotto was in place there was a significant surplus was rerouted to the general fund for other purposes. So why is part of this proposal going to education when the present sources of revenue need to be reconciled for road repair. I firmly believe state accounting needs to be revaluated with a the focus on paying for road repair without burden to taxpayers. I take issue with the ad stating by passing this proposal contractors would be held responsible for any faulty work; this is erroneous statement. Road contractors are bonded; funds are not released until work in place is approved by state and representing engineering firms; corrections are always the burden of the contractor. This statement as a reason to pass prop 1 is bogus. Until the state can come up with a valid legitimate proposal I am in the NO column.

  • Robert L Uzarski

    Colorado makes $700 Million in legal Marijuana sales a year. Here’s an idea. Legalize it in Michigan, Tax it 10%. That is $70 Million Dollars a year that can go to fixing the roads. No tax increase of any kind needed. Simple solution really.

  • Galane

    If you’re proposing a tax increase to add to the road repair and maintenance budget, then 100% of the funding appropriated by the bill should go to road repair and maintenance.

  • On It

    Look at the highest taxed states & tell me how they are doing, this proposal will put us among the top taxed states! It’s a disaster for Michigan, pure & simple.
    Politicians can’t do anything without more pork, it’s insulting & pathetic. How much money is being spent to pass this highway straight to your wallet? Vote NO!!!

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