LANSING – State Representative Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit) spoke out today against the roads plan that House Republicans narrowly passed during a late-night session last week. Despite months of opportunity for compromise and negotiation, the package pushed through has many of the same problems as the road funding package the House Democrats, as well as the Senate, rejected in June. The major difference came from the addition of a tax break for Michigan’s millionaires and billionaires. Though the House Democrats offered a much more realistic plan early on – components of which included measures to prioritize and protect the roads, to reform vehicle registration processes, and holding businesses accountable for their fair share of taxes – the Republicans ultimately ignored the plan and forced their own through the House, passing it on a narrow margin.
“It is baffling that not only did the Republicans pass a plan they’ve admitted they don’t entirely know how they’ll fund, but they did so without even discussing elements of the Democratic plan — which could actually work,” Rep. Durhal said. “This wasn’t about finding a commonsense, responsible solution, this was just about one party wanting to say ‘We got something done’ to their voters, even if that something is going to hurt those voters in the long run.”
Not only will the Republican package not be fully phased in until 2021, its $1.2 billion price tag includes raising car registration fees and raising the gas tax, but most importantly it asks for $600 million in cuts to other areas of the budget, without specifying where the cuts would come from. In order for the plan to work, things like education, public safety, and social services are at risk of taking massive cuts. In areas like Detroit, where many governmental agencies struggle to meet the needs of their residents, looming cuts could be the death sentence for vital services in the area.
“There is too much at stake for the people of Detroit right now to push through a plan like this so recklessly,” said Rep. Durhal. “The Republicans don’t care about what happens to the family whose DHHS office has just closed, or the local police officer who was just laid off. They don’t care where that money comes from, they don’t care who it affects, because none of them will be in office when Michigan is forced to pay the tab. It might be brilliant politics, but it’s also terrible lawmaking.”