LANSING, MI – Michigan could get a long-term, comprehensive plan to improve its roads and bridges while helping schools, communities and public transportation, Gov. Rick Snyder said, saluting lawmakers for their bipartisan cooperation.
Snyder said the package of bills approved early Friday in the state House and Senate came after leaders from both parties and both chambers came together on a plan, guided by a set of solid principles and willingness to find middle ground.
“The plan we arrived at today was created in the true spirit of bipartisan compromise that can make a real difference,” Snyder said. “We listened to everyone and took into account everyone’s key concerns. Now we have a solution to support and it’s up to all of us to continue working together, along with our residents. This is an opportunity to get something done to fix our roads and make Michigan a better place.”
Snyder said he appreciates the efforts from his partners in the Legislature, especially the leadership shown by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, House Speaker Jase Bolger, and House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel.
The plan will ensure that $1.3 billion in additional funding will be generated for transportation improvements. That investment will halt decades of decline, making roads and bridges safer and helping the state’s economy.
The plan also makes sure motor fuel taxes and transportation fees are dedicated to funding transportation, increases the state sales tax so our schools and governments have the funding they need and provides tax relief to lower-income Michiganders.
Bolger said the plan will help provide smoother Michigan roads next year and well into the future.
“I’m pleased that even with this compromise, the key principles the House Republicans fought for remain intact,” Bolger said. “It was vital to us that all taxes paid at the pump go to roads, because that was the structural flaw that led to this problem. We also have an opportunity to once again significantly reduce the state’s debt so that we aren’t leaving our kids and grandkids with unpaid bills. I wish we could have achieved all of this legislatively, but that is not legally possible. Dedicating the taxes paid at the pump to fixing roads while protecting the revenue streams to schools and local governments is only possible with the 7 percent sales tax option, and that option requires a vote of the people.”
Greimel said the plan invests in vital areas beyond roads and bridges.
“I’m proud to work in a bipartisan fashion with the governor and legislative leaders on a compromise for Michigan’s roads,” Greimel said. “If the ballot proposal succeeds in May, low-income residents will see a net decrease in their tax burden. This is a big win for Michigan’s families and schools.”
The Legislature approved a series of bills connected with the plan, including a wholesale tax on motor fuels; vehicle registration changes; new transportation-related reforms, including measures on warranties and competitive bidding; and the restoration of the earned income tax credit to provide tax relief for low-income Michiganders. But those laws won’t take effect if the ballot proposal does not pass.
Richardville said the decision to put the measure on the ballot required support from two-thirds of each chamber, showing the commitment from both parties. He said the plan was assembled through discussion and ideas exchanged over the last year and a half, with focused discussion in the last several weeks.
“Tonight we passed a bipartisan, long-term solution for road funding that ensures the money spent at the pump actually pays for the roads,” Richardville said. “The $1.3 billion that would be raised through the passage of the May ballot request will keep our roads and bridges from further decline and will ensure schools and local governments have the funding they need. It was my goal to have a solution for road funding presented before the end of the term and I am glad we can finish with a proposal that meets the needs of the people of Michigan.”
Whitmer said leaders from both parties and both chambers expressed their priorities and guiding principles.
“I’m glad we were able to put a plan in front of voters that would not only make a long overdue investment in our roads, but ensure our school aid dollars are no longer raided for other purposes,” Whitmer said. “It’s not a perfect plan, but it’s a plan that is absolutely the right step for Michigan to take.”