Senate Considers Gas Tax Bill to Pump Money into Bad Roads

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The Michigan Senate is considering whether to raise $1.5 billion more a year to fix roads through fuel-tax increases and other moves.

The Republican-led chamber amended House-approved legislation Wednesday to effectively raise the 19-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax to more than 45 cents by 2018, if fuel prices stay intact. The senators may vote on the plan next week.

The tax increase would be phased in, rising to near 30 cents a gallon in January. It could go up at least 5 cents in each of the following three years.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says it's time to fix the roads and a bipartisan deal is within reach. Democrats Worry that the tax increase wouldn’t be fair for lower-income drivers. They want assurances that the minimum wage will rise.

Michigan is already among the top five states with the highest gas taxes. Drivers pay nearly
60 cents a gallon in state, federal and local taxes. Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst for questions how drivers will know what they can expect to pay. “Where is the transparency going to be and how are you going to know, how are you going to tell motorists what the prices are going to be? That's the biggest question with a hidden tax kind of like a tax that is based on a number."

Drivers agree the state needs to come up with more money to pay for the roads. But they’re mixed on how to pay for it. Ike Volkers says, “I think the answer is they got to do it on a regular basis. They can't skip years. It seems like sometimes they skip a year and they have to a lot a certain amount and get it done.”

Jamie Dewitt says, “The money has to come from somewhere. If we don't pay for it with a gas pump then, where are we going to pay to fix the roads and is the money going to come out of schools? It's going to come somewhere else.”

Time is running out for lawmakers to agree on a long term solution for road funding. The session ends June 20th.