House Dems Reject Irresponsible, Unworkable Roads Plan

Wealthiest get tax breaks while cuts are made to public safety, education
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

LANSING – House Democrats resoundingly rejected a warmed-over rehash of the House Republicans’ once-failed roads plan when it was brought up for a vote late Wednesday night. House Republicans managed to outdo themselves by making their failed plan from June even worse by adding on tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires while insisting on a plan that demands $600 million be cut from vitally important programs, including public safety, education and health care. The roads plan was voted out of the House late Wednesday night and will head to the Senate for consideration.

“In the four months since House Republicans last introduced this plan, they’ve failed to improve on it. In fact, they’ve made it worse,” House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) said. “It wasn’t enough for House Republicans to take $600 million out of vital state programs – including public safety, schools and health care – they now want to undermine those programs further by giving an income tax break for the state’s wealthiest people. Meanwhile, our roads still won’t get the $1.2 billion we need each year to fix them until fiscal year 2021. It’s obvious this plan was made to cater to the wealthy friends of Michigan Republicans, not the average working people who drive on crumbling roads to get to work every day.”

House Democrats rejected the plan because it is unsustainable and prioritizes tax breaks for the wealthy over funding for roads and critically important state programs. In particular, the House Republican plan:

  • Fails to identify where $600 million in funding cuts will be made, and fails to guarantee that public safety, education and health care funding will be protected.
  • Offers income tax breaks targeted at helping millionaires and billionaires, while leaving regular working families to shoulder the burden of program cuts and road funding.
  • Tarnishes the Homestead Property Tax Credit by including a $600 million cut to the existing budget that funds schools, police departments and health care agencies.
  • Will only generate $400 million of the $1.2 billion needed annually for road funding in its first two years, and won’t reach $1.2 billion in annual funds until fiscal year 2021 – meaning Michigan’s roads will continue to deteriorate for years to come.

“House Republicans care more about passing a plan – any plan – than about passing a responsible plan that will actually work,” House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) said. “The last time they floated this plan, economists and editorial boards around the state told House Republicans that their ideas were irresponsible and unworkable. Instead of fixing what was wrong, House Republicans managed to make it worse and pushed their plan through late at night, without vetting their ideas through committee hearings and testimony.”

House Democrats offered a more responsible plan that would have generated road funding through a mix of reprioritizing existing funding to go to road funding, reforming registration and closing costly registration loopholes and scaling back runaway tax breaks to corporations that have left middle-class families to bear the brunt of the state’s tax burden.

“Fixing our roads still is not the priority of House Republicans,” said Rep. Marilyn Lane (D-Fraser), Democratic vice chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee. “As we’ve seen tonight, their priority is to pass another shell game disguised as legislation, all while lying to their constituents that road funding is solved — but not until fiscal year 2021. We know better and the people of Michigan deserve better.”