How Should Michigan Get the Funding to Fix the Roads?
Gov. Whitmer has proposed a 45 cent tax increase on the price of gasoline and diesel fuel to raise $2.1 billion annually for road repairs and maintenance in Michigan.
Is the proposal Michigan's best option? What's the best way to fund Michigan's road repairs?
The 45 cent tax increase would come after three separate 15 cent increases. The first 15 cent increase would come on Oct. 1, 2019, the second on April 1, 2020, and the last on Oct. 1 2020.
The proposed increase, especially the amount of the increase, comes as a surprise.
On October 12, 2018, at the Michigan gubernatorial debate in Grand Rapids, Republican candidate Bill Schuette said Whitmer planned to have a 20 cent gas increase. Whitmer denied it, laughed and said "that's ridiculous...it's nonsense and you know it."
Whitmer’s plan would increase Michigan’s gas tax to 71.3 cents per gallon, making it the highest in the nation.
Is it too much? Not enough? Or maybe somewhere in the middle? What else can be done to help Michigan's roads?
Some argue Michigan's truck weight limits are a big problem and fixing the roads without lowering the weight restrictions would be a waste of time.
Michigan permits trucks up to 164,000 pounds on the system. However, different than other states, Michigan requires a lower weight per axle which more evenly distributes the load and reduces wear and tear on roads. MDOT engineers have thoroughly studied this issue and the result of this research is that heavier trucks do not cause a disproportionate amount of damage as long as the weight is evenly distributed over an appropriate number of axles. Additionally, trucks over 80,000 pounds make up only less than 5% of all trucks operating on our roads. If Michigan were to reduce it's truck weight laws to 80,000 pounds, more damage to the system may occur because of the need to put more trucks on the road. More trucks on the road raise serious questions concerning safety and traffic congestion. Several other states are currently looking at Michigan's axle weight laws and are considering adopting similar laws.
Michigan's roads need repairs, but where should the funding come from?