Apr 5, 2007
I thought I would put in my 2 cents – nine actually – on the bipartisan proposal from the Michigan House to raise the gas tax from its current 19 cents a gallon up to 9 cents over three years now that my local lawmakers have given us their opinion in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
They are, of course, against it. It makes you wonder if the Republicans ever met a tax they wanted to pay or if they understand the good invest ting in the state does for all residents.
I support a small gas tax to maintain the roads and infrastructure that really attracts and retain business and companies to the state, but not now with the current budget shortfall and with gas at $2.85 a gallon. I don’t support going as high as 9 cents, nor do I support the outrageous hike in the vehicle registration fee. Gas tax is a user fee, and it makes sense for the people who use the roads more to pay more.
The gas tax was last raised 4 cents in 1997, but Michigan is near the bottom on the amount of money it spends on roads. It ranks 42nd, and the gas tax is the largest single funding source for making improvements to and maintenance of Michigan roads.
According to the nonpartisan national Tax Foundation, Michigan’s 19 cents a gallon puts us 29th in the country. Florida is at 50th with just 4 cents a gallon, but they don’t get the freeze and thaw cycle and salt that wrecks havoc on the roads. The highest gas tax is paid by a state we compete with directly for jobs in the Midwest, Wisconsin at 32.9 cents a gallon. Ohio ranks 5th at 28 cents, and we are tied with Illinois at 19 cents.
I find myself in rare agreement with Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, who said he supports an increase in the diesel tax, which has not seen an increase in years. The diesel tax rate is 15 cents a gallon, one of the lowest in the nation, according to statistics from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The huge, semi-trucks do a lot more damage to the roads than passenger cars.
The most ridiculous reasons for opposition comes from Sen. Valde Garcia. Garcia said the proposal wouldn't increase Livingston County's road-funding coffers.
"I doubt that it would help us other than from an overall standpoint that there would be more money available. In this (Gov. Jennifer Granholm) administration we have seen money move away from this county," he said.
So he’s blaming the Democratic Governor? Is anyone really surprised that’s who he would blame? So when we had a Republican governor, Livingston County should have seen the road money flowing in. We didn’t. It was just a few short years ago that we had a Republican President, a GOP U.S. House and Senate, A GOP Governor, a GOP Michigan House and Senate, our Senator and two state Representatives were Republicans and the entire Board of Commissioners were Republicans. It would seem the road money should have been rolling in. That was not the case.
Then Garcia - as well as Bill Johnston, head of something called “Concerned Taxpayers Group of Livingston County” - pull out the old standby and race card of blaming Detroit for the problem and pitting Detroit against the rest of the state.
While unsure if Livingston County receives its fair share of gas tax dollars, Garcia noted that Macomb and other southeast Michigan counties seem to have an easier time launching road projects.
If the proposal prevails, more gas tax dollars will continue to be dedicated to failing roads in Wayne County and the eastern Detroit suburbs than in Livingston County, Johnston said.
Garcia goes on to falsely claim that we are over taxed, ignoring the fact that taxes have been cut every year for the last 15 years, and we have less state employees now then we did in 1973.
"People are sick and tired of seeing their taxes raised," he said.
But don’t worry; Garcia said “he's preparing an alternative proposal for road funding that doesn't entail an increase in the state gas tax. He declined to elaborate on his plan until the state Senate reconvenes later this month.”
Ah, another secret Senate Republican plan. They are getting so good at keeping secrets and coming up with secret plans. Remember how well that secret budget plan went?
It makes more sense to approve the 2-penny tax on services before we even talk about an increase in the gas tax.