What is Plan B for Fixing the Roads?

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As Governor Rick Snyder sees it, Michigan voters have two choices on May 5: Fix the roads, or do nothing.

"Doing nothing is the worst answer," he told reporters Wednesday. "This proposal is a good, solid proposal and I appreciate some people are irritated that they have to go to the polls but this is a good policy for Michigan that will make safer roads.

"If it doesn't pass, then I'd just call it relentless positive action, we'll go back to work and come up with another run of solutions."

That's exactly what some voters say they want to see.

"I think if the legislation wants to earn their money, they'll enact legislation," said Dave Bugg, who plans to vote no next week, "rather than stand back and let the people do it for them."

Joe Stone is also opposed to the plan and says he is disappointed on the lawmakers who put the question to the voters.

"They let us down," he said. "That's why we elect our representatives to do that."

The Governor would not say where the legislature would start if the proposal failed, but says he is opposed to moving money from the school aid fund and local governments.

Republican Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland) is proposing doing just that though, as he revives a plan that failed last year.

Known as "The Bolger Plan," for former Speaker Jase Bolger who pioneered it, the legislation would remove the sales tax from gasoline and replace it with a use tax, to ensure there would be no net tax increase, Glenn said.

"It reallocates money that's already in the budget to go to road construction and repair," he said. "So we'll have 1.2 billion in the budget for road construction and repair without raising taxes."

That money would come from the general fund, Glenn said, including the School Aid Fund, which would still see an increase, though not as large an increase as it would normally.

"If our priority is to protect the people of Michigan and provide safe roads, including those children who go to school in school buses," Glenn said, "We ought to put our money where our mouth is."

The Bolger Plan passed the House, but failed in the Senate last session. Glenn thinks the new senators might be more keen to hear him out and pass his bill. And Glenn thinks the Governor -- who also opposed the Bolger Plan -- might feel pressured to find funding for the roads the longer things delay.

Rep. Peter Lucido (R-Macomb) has a plan of his own to fix the roads, drawing money from the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association.

"I want to take the interest from that fund, put it to work for these roads -- just take the interest only," said Lucido. "That's enough to fix these problems and get federal match dollars. We can get it for the roads and the bridges and we can get the federal government to give us this money."

Financial reports show the MCCA with more than $17 billion in its bank account -- money which collects interest.

Lucido says he knows there will be pushback from insurance groups and others, but he wants the roads patched.

"On the sixth of May, I don't want to be waiting around for any more roads to crumble or any more bridges to fall apart [should Proposal 1 fail]," he said. "I want to have a plan."



 
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