Tuesday, Aug 22, 2017
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Politics

SPECIAL ELECTION

Michigan rejects tax to repair roads

Proposal 1 would have raised sales tax 1% and brought in $1.3 billion

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    Proposal 1 would have raised Michigan’s sales tax from 6 cents on the dollar to 7 cents to help pay for the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    Potholes are seen on Ida Center West Road near Ida recently.

    THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
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n4roads

Proposal 1 would have raised Michigan’s sales tax from 6 cents on the dollar to 7 cents to help pay for the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

Michigan voters rejected Proposal 1, which would have raised the state sales tax to pay to fix its crumbling roads.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who supported the measure, conceded defeat Tuesday night.

“It’s essential that making Michigan’s infrastructure safer remains a top priority,” he said. 

“While voters didn’t support this particular proposal, we know they want action taken to maintain and improve our roads and bridges,” he continued.

“Until we get better roads, I’m not going to stop,” Mr. Snyder told reporters. “I think you’re going to find a lot of pressure from the public to get something done. Nobody likes our roads.”

The failed Proposal 1 would have increased Michigan’s sales tax from 6 cents on the dollar to 7 cents through a constitutional amendment. 

The plan would have exempted fuel from the sales tax in favor of a higher, percentage-based fuel tax, with that revenue primarily going toward fixing roads. It would have replaced the current fuel tax of 19 cents for gasoline and 15 cents for diesel.

The referendum question also would have triggered a series of bills related to the overall package deal, including elimination of vehicle registration discounts, with revenue dedicated to transportation improvements.

The plan was estimated to collect $1.3 billion in revenue for state transportation projects and would have boosted the sales tax by $795 million. 

The special election cost Michigan taxpayers about $10 million.

Mr. Snyder said he would work with the Legislature to create an alternate plan.

The Road Information Program, a national research nonprofit sponsored primarily by the highway and transit construction and engineering industries, calculated in December that rough roads cost the typical Michigan motorist $539 per year in extra maintenance costs.

That cost was $851 in Detroit, where 56 percent of pavement on major streets and highways was considered in poor condition.

Randy Pierce, managing director for the Monroe County Road Commission, said he was frustrated, not at the voters, but at the funding mechanisms in place for transportation improvements. 

He estimated 50 percent of roads in the county are in poor condition. He said the measure, though it failed, showed that road repairs are an urgent need.

“Even though we’re disappointed that it did fail, we’re not giving up,” he said. “The roads in Michigan are long overdue.”

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.

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