CHICAGO -- The Michigan House of Representatives Dec. 4 narrowly passed a roads funding bill that would raise $1.2 billion by diverting money now sent to schools and local governments.
The bill is an alternative to recent Senate-passed legislation that raises $1.2 billion in new money by revamping the state's gas-tax formula and effectively raising the gas tax. The new House bill sets up a showdown during the current lame-duck session over a controversial issue that Gov. Rick Snyder has called his top legislative priority.
The legislation, sponsored by Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, would repeal over six years the 6% sales tax now attached to the fuel tax starting in 2016 through 2020. The 19-cent-per-gallon gas tax would be shifted to a wholesale percentage rate that would grow over the same period.
The bill passed by a vote of 56-53, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting against it.
The sales tax money currently goes to the state school aid fund and local governments, and would mean the loss of up to $800 million annually, according to fiscal analysts and critics of the bill.
The Michigan Municipal League called the bill "short sighted and irresponsible," saying it would mean the loss of $100 million in local government funding. The league urged its members to contact their representatives to tell them to oppose the plan.
Bolger said the bill would generate new road money while not raising taxes. "Simply put, this plan dedicates the taxes drivers pay at the pump to fixing their roads," Bolger said in a statement.
Snyder is pushing hard for legislation to raise new money for the state's aging roads, saying it's important to Michigan's recovery. He launched a campaign dubbed "Just Fix The Roads," and is holding press conferences at sites of crumbling infrastructure.
The governor supports the Senate bill, passed in mid-November, which would replace the 19-cent per gallon gas tax and 15-cent diesel tax with a wholesale tax that would start at 9.5% and grow to 15.5% over three years.
The lame-duck session ends in two weeks.