LANSING — An overwhelming majority of Greater Wayne County Caucus (GWCC) members voted in opposition of the road funding package that passed the House late Tuesday evening. Under the plan, the gasoline tax would increase to 26.3 cents per gallon on Jan. 1, 2017, a 7.3 cents per gallon increase. It would also increase vehicle registration fees 20 percent on Jan1, 2017. The package also calls for $600 million in funding cuts, but fails to identify where the cuts will be made. Additionally, it will only generate $400 million in its first two years, which is a small percentage of the $1.2 billion needed annually for our infrastructure. Unfortunately, this proposal delays full funding until fiscal year 2021.
This package raised serious concerns on both sides of the aisle, and despite attempts to work toward any sort of compromise, the legislation will now be sent to Gov. Rick Snyder for final approval. With Wayne County being the most populated county in the state and home to some of Michigan’s most traveled roadways, most GWCC members rejected this plan because it jeopardizes our budget and puts public safety, education and health care at risk.
“A variation of this plan was first brought to the legislature for consideration in June, and I have heard loud and clear from Wayne County residents that this is an irresponsible and unsustainable option for our state,” said Representative George T. Darany, chairman of the GWCC.
GWCC members recognize the need for a viable answer to road funding and have been working toward a long-term solution. However, in addition to raising the gas tax and registration fees, this plan relies on an unspecified $600 million cut to the general fund and potential projections of economic growth.
GWCC Vice Chairman, Representative Paul D. Clemente, agreed that this legislation is ill-advised.
“This plan uses increased fuel and registration taxes, and unspecified budget reductions to fund not only roads, but new tax giveaways,” Clemente said. “In the meantime, as we wait for 2021 to roll around, Michigan roads will continue to deteriorate.”
GWCC Secretary Representative Julie Plawecki is concerned that these cuts will put some of the state’s most essential services in jeopardy.
“This plan fails to provide specifics on where the $600 million in cuts from the state budget is going to come from — meaning that public safety, education and health care funding are all at risk,” Plawecki said. “The tax changes and budget cuts in this proposal come at the expense of residents, rather than corporations.”
This plan will not help the working people of our state that travel on our crumbling infrastructure on their commute to work each day.
“It is unfortunate that after another marathon session, the Legislature could not find a truly bi-partisan solution to Michigan’s road funding,” said GWCC Parliamentarian, Representative Bill LaVoy. “A birthday tax increase is not the best way to fund the much needed improvements to Michigan’s infrastructure. This is an across the board tax that the citizens of Michigan will feel every year when they register their vehicles and I could not support our middle class being asked to bear the brunt of a $600 million tax increase.”
Members of the GWCC are state Representatives Paul D. Clemente (D-Lincoln Park), Laura Cox (R-Livonia), George T. Darany (D-Dearborn), Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth Township), Robert Kosowski (D-Westland), Bill LaVoy (D-Monroe), Frank Liberati (D-Allen Park), Leslie Love (D-Redford Township), Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), and Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights), and Patrick Somerville (R-New Boston).