Kowall: Committee approves long-term roads solution

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate Government Operations Committee on Tuesday approved legislation that would ensure a long-term funding solution to repair, maintain and improve the state’s crumbling roads and bridges, said committee member Sen. Mike Kowall.

“To tackle the problem of our decaying roads and bridges, Senate Republicans have designed a solution that is simple, stable and responsible,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Kowall, R-White Lake. “And it is a long-term fix. This is what Michiganders want.”

The package of Senate and House bills, known as the Fixing MI Roads initiative, proposes a combination of new revenue and reprioritizing existing state resources, which would ensure the necessary funding for Michigan infrastructure.

New revenue would come from a gradual gas and diesel tax increase and the implementation of a road use fairness system in which hybrid and electric vehicle registration would increase. The plan also would implement a fee schedule and additional taxes on alternative fuels.

The increases to the gas and diesel tax would be phased in. From Oct. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2015, drivers would pay five cents more per gallon of fuel. From Jan 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016, the tax would rise another five cents per gallon. Finally, on Jan. 1, 2017, the tax would top off at 34 cents per gallon with the final five cent increase.

“I think we can all agree that our roads are in poor shape and getting worse,” Kowall said. “This plan addresses our infrastructure issues both in the short and long term.”

Fixing MI Roads would also guarantee $700 million of income tax revenue annually is used for transportation purposes before it reaches the General Fund budget.

The plan would instill a competitive bidding program for contractors, ensure that townships could take a more active role in future road projects, and require a future assessment and evaluation of the current system by sunsetting all gas taxes in 2033.

The package of bills now heads to the full Senate for consideration.