A package of bills that would provide more than $400 million for infrastructure funding advanced through two committees in the Michigan House yesterday.
The House Tax Policy Committee approved legislation that would shift an estimated $370 million in sales and use tax revenues from the general fund to road and bridge projects.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted to replace the current 19-cent per gallon gas tax and 15-cent per gallon diesel tax with a 6 percent tax on the wholesale price of both types of fuel. This would allow the rate to rise and fall with changing prices.
A third bill, being sent to the full House, would increase fines and special permit fees for overweight trucks and revise some registration fees.
A bill that would permit the Michigan Department of Transportation to enter into public-private partnerships will remain in the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee for additional work. Critics of the bill fear that it will permit the use of toll roads, concerns that Representative Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) did not share. “This does not automatically put toll roads in place,” he said. “That is not the case, and this bill doesn’t allow for that.”
Last week Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) stated that he is evaluating ways that the state can increase infrastructure spending, including the plans currently in the House. While he said it is too early to discuss what other funding methods he is considering, in the past he has proposed a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund transportation improvement. When asked if he had a revenue target, Richardville mentioned an attempt last year by Governor Rick Snyder for an additional of $1.2 billion per year in transportation spending and said “If we get in that neighborhood, I think it’ll be sufficient to get things done.”