Snyder Administration Pushes New Messaging for Increased Road Funding

By: Brian Johnson
By: Brian Johnson

Ask just about anyone and you'll hear the same story about Michigan roads.

"I think they are in desperate need of repair--they're terrible," said Shay Gaffey from East Lansing.

"Potholes are everywhere. It's hard to even dodge them," said Bonnie Harris from Holt.

Most everyone in the state agrees something needs to be done, the issue is paying for the fixes.

Now the governor's office is pushing to raise the wholesale gas tax, rather than at the pump. It's harder for drivers to see the real cost increase. It's also harder for people to circumvent not paying the tax.

"We need investment everywhere, you notice it most on your local roads," said Jeff Cranson the Director of MDOT Communications. "Obviously it's a problem everywhere when it comes to maintenance, but when it comes to long term we just need to invest more and invest more in the entire system."

Governor Snyder even invited an expert from Pennsylvania to help sell the idea.

"The cost of doing nothing is very very high. It's high in terms of safety. It's high in terms of our pocket book and just in our quality of life," said Bradley Mallory who works at the Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation.

The administration is also using new messaging.

"We're calling it an inflation adjustment taxation. You move it back in the system and you adjust it for inflation," said Bill Rustem, Governor Snyder's Director of Strategy.

Which is not to be confused with a tax increase. It's a noticeable change in strategy that might help some state representatives leery of "raising taxes" to vote for collecting more than a billion extra dollars in new money.

The administration is also pushing the idea that it will save driver's money. Instead of spending what the governor estimates is $357 repairing your car, you'll pay $120 more in taxes. The administration said that's a savings of about $200.

Messaging aside, after such a rough winter, many just want a solution.

"I'm already paying enough at the pump, but whatever it takes it's got to be fixed," said Harris. "Whether we've got to pay a couple more pennies in gas, I'm willing to do that."

"Our whole infrastructure is crumbling around us in this state, so I think we need to come up with something that's going to be a long term solution," said Gaffey.

If the fix comes this winter, we could see improvements this year rather than next.

The Michigan County Road Association is asking for more than $2 billion extra. It says the 1.3 billion the governor is asking for is not enough money to get the job done.


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