Lawmakers Running Out Of Time For Road Deal

Lawmakers go on summer recess in less than a week, and that means time is running out for a road funding deal. Some would like to use existing money, others want to raise taxes -- and the up coming elections are only compounding the problem.

Whether you're swerving around them or driving right over, there's one thing many commuters can't deny; the state's crumbling roads need to be fixed.

"Our road conditions are awful," said Mary Howland, who commutes over an hour to work every day. "We have potholes everywhere and I have to swerve to drive to avoid them which puts me and my child in danger, as well as other drivers."

But no one can agree on how to get the money needed to fix the problem.

"I don't know if I necessarily want to pay for the funding or have it come out of my own pocket," Howland added.

It's a sticking point lawmakers are trying to deal with as they work to secure funding for major road repairs.

"We all want the roads fixed but people don't want to pay for it," said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

When it comes to patching up potholes lawmakers have proposed different plans from raising the price of gas to increasing the sales tax. But they still haven't reached a decision on the best way to fund improving the roads.

"I'm hearing it overwhelmingly don't raise the gas tax...but they would be okay with one penny sales tax going on the ballot," Jones added.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, realizes the money has to come from somewhere but told News 10 that, "the plans Republicans have put in front of us continue down the wrong path of asking working families to carry the burden of the cost."

They are starting to make changes. Last week the senate approved a $130 million bill to shift money from the state's general fund to roads.

"It's just a drop in the bucket," Jones said. "But we need much more to really fix the roads."

The state currently spends roughly $3 billion on infrastructure each year. Governor Rick Snyder has asked lawmakers to raise an additional $1.2 billion to fix and maintain the roads.

Lawmakers on both sides are optimistic current discussions will help them reach an agreement.

The Senate is back in session starting Tuesday. The legislature only has three working days to find a solution before summer recess.


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