LANSING — State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) today said that he could not support a plan to put a roads funding ballot proposal before the voters because legislators should cast the vote to find that funding and not Michigan residents.
“I knew when I came to Lansing that sooner or later we would have to vote on proposals to fix and maintain our roads and that it would likely involve finding new money,” said Dianda. “I don’t think it’s fair to my constituents, or any Michigan resident, to ask them to decide whether or not to raise money for our roads. It’s our job to look at how we are funding roads and make the tough decisions about changing the formula and raising more money. But with this ballot proposal we aren’t making the decision ourselves so I can’t vote for this.”
The ballot proposal would ask voters to raise the state sales and use tax from 6 to 7 percent. It would go before voters in May 2015. If approved by voters, it would raise $1.3 billion over four years by eliminating the sales tax on gas and moving to a tax on gas based on the wholesale price, while sending more constitutionally protected money to schools and local governments.
Earlier in December, Dianda won an amendment to Senate Bill 281 that would have increased Michigan Transportation Fund revenues that are shared by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and local governments. The amendment increased the share going to counties to 42.2 percent while cities, villages and townships would be increased to 23.4 percent. MDOT’s share would decrease to 34.4 percent from 39.1 percent. That bill remains in committee.
“After making headway on local road funding a few weeks ago, we seem to have now completely turned our back on that important concern,” said Dianda. “In my district, it’s the county road commissions that need funding to fix and maintain our roads but the ballot proposal doesn’t address that. We are asking residents who haven’t necessarily seen any increase in their own personal income to raise taxes. Some U.P. residents drive 20 miles to work every day. I can’t vote to put a proposal on the ballot that ignores local roads and will cost residents more money.”