New tax for roads? Are you crazy?

May 29, 2014

I’m getting more and more disenchanted with government. Our peers, and use that word loosely, seem more and more out of touch with the real world. Certainly those that run our federal government have lost touch with the common man. I’m starting to believe those in Lansing are nearly the same.

You might have caught some of the headlines last week. Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican cronies are asking the Senate and House to pass a new gas tax which would make the amount Michigan motorists pay at the pump the highest in the nation. If passed in its present form, motorists would see a tax increase of 30 cents at the pump in January and an additional five cents per year through 2018.

This would put the government’s take at 67.1 cents per gallon immediately, or second in the nation to the state of New York. But because the levy would be based on a percentage of the wholesale price, any sustained increase in oil prices would translate into additional gas tax hikes. If wholesale prices rose by $1, which is realistic, and stayed there for several years, Michigan drivers would be paying more than 80 cents per gallon in gas tax- NEARLY 13 CENTS MORE THAN THE SECOND HIGHEST STATE (New York).

Snyder and others supposedly representing our interest say the tax is needed to repair our roads. Almost everyone agrees our roads are in need of repair. I put about a 1000 miles a week on my vehicles, and I would agree we have bad roads, however, I am not willing to throw good money after bad, and that seems to be what we are doing.

I say that because one study rates Michigan near the bottom of states when it comes to tax money being used for road repair. This is where it doesn’t make sense. We are near the top in gas tax money collected yet at or near the bottom when it comes to money available for road repair. Where is the gas tax money going?

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy says, “the real problem isn’t that the state doesn’t take in enough money, but that it doesn’t properly prioritize the money it does take, and “skims” too much for other purposes.”

For example they claim, based on a $3 per gallon pump price, the State takes in $700 million alone in sales tax on gas. None of that money, although originally earmarked for road maintenance, goes to roads. Did you read me- NONE of IT, ZIP, ZERO, NADA. Where it goes is anyone’s guess but it’s a shame that a couple hundred million isn’t thrown at road repair.

For local taxpayers the plot thickens, as local leaders are also asking us to approve tax increases for local roads. Hamilton Township said a resounding “no” to a new road millage in May- the second time they have nixed a road millage in a year. In August Grant Township voters will be asked  to approve a new road millage. Marion Township is thinking of the same.

At least at the local level, we have a say at the polls. It is up to us to determine whether we want to pull more money out of our wallets or not. Not the case at the State level. The boys and girls we put in charge will ultimately decide whether we will be subject to another tax or not.

I for one, am damn tired of taxes. The State ought to use the money they already have and re-allocate a portion of it to fix our roads. Plain and simple-it isn’t rocket science. But hey, for them it is so much easier to get in to our pockets. Tell them, once and for all, you’re not going to allow that to happen. Yes, fix our roads, but use the money you already are collecting.

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