Guest Column

Lawmakers need to come together to fix roads

July 24, 2015
| By Rick Baker |
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We have been spinning our wheels on road funding in Michigan for years.

The Michigan Legislature and public have debated and considered a multitude of road funding options in hopes of finding the perfect solution.

As proposals and years have gone by, our roads have gone from poor to embarrassing and are now at a point where immediate action is necessary.

The message to lawmakers from the public with defeat of Proposal 1 was clear: Our roads need to be fixed in a simple, direct manner that incorporates budget cuts along with reasonable user-fee increases.

In the last two months, the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate have passed road funding plans. Most recently, the Senate amended the House plan, to provide for a long-term solution. The legislation is now back in the House for consideration.

The leadership of many legislators in the House and Senate has been critical in getting us to this point.

We particularly commend Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, for pulling together a solution that balances the reprioritization of existing resources, coupled with a reasonable user fee increase tied to inflation.

In addition, the Senate plan provides tax relief to give Michigan a long-term, sustainable solution for our failing roads and bridges.

The legislation would provide more than $1.4 billion annually with approximately $700 million from current revenue and $700 million from increasing the tax on motor fuels. Diesel fuel would be taxed at the same rate as gasoline. Both taxes will increase 15 cents over the next few years and then be indexed to inflation.

The plan also includes the roll-back of the state income tax if certain metrics are met.

While this plan is certainly not everyone’s perfect plan, it delivers a long-term solution with a balance of new and existing revenue.

Michigan’s businesses and residents need a long-term solution now so we can improve our infrastructure and move forward.

We encourage the House and Senate to come together in the coming days to deliver a solution that supports our growing economy and provides safer transportation for all.

Rick Baker is the president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

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