Michigan residents on May 5 failed to approve a ballot measure that would have resulted in an annual increase of $1.2 billion for highway and bridge investment and $130 million for transit and rail improvements. Transportation Investment Advocacy Center staff also tracked 9 out of 12 city or county ballot measures within Michigan approved by voters to renew or create funding for roads and transit.
The statewide ballot measure would have eliminated the current sales tax on motor fuels, which provides revenue for the School Aid Fund and local governments, and supplemented those programs by increasing the general state sales/use tax from six to seven percent. The bill was previously approved by the Michigan legislature on December 19, 2014 for inclusion on the May Special Election ballot. Michigan residents voted 20 percent in favor of the measure and 80 percent against, with many voters— as well as several legislators— blaming the bill’s convoluted nature as a reason for its failure.
If voters had approved the measure, several “tie-barred” bills would have taken effect and generated new revenue for transportation. One such measure would have eliminated the current flat excise tax on gas and diesel and established a 14.9 percent wholesale tax on motor fuels. Vehicle registration fees and heavy truck fines would have also been increased to provide funding for highway and street investment. Another provision would have guaranteed that even if fuel prices decreased, the total revenues collected from the new funding package would have not fallen below 2013 spending levels.
In addition to the statewide transportation funding proposal, a dozen counties and townships throughout Michigan asked residents on May 5 to approve new or renewed property taxes for local roads and transit. Unofficial results reveal that voters in nine cities and counties approved measures, for an estimated total of $3,192,696 within the next year alone. Three other local measures failed.
Idaho, Iowa, Georgia, South Dakota and Utah have approved new transportation funding this year.