Inside Source: GOP Plan To Fix Roads Includes 15 Cent Gas Tax Hike

July 30, 2019 - 8:55 am

LANSING (WWJ) - The top two GOP leaders in Lansing are close to finalizing a road fix package.

Based on inside information, it looks like a 15 cents-a-gallon hike in the state's gas tax will be part of the plan.

"A Republican source with close ties to the House Republican caucus is reporting that the two legislative leaders, Senator Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, are close to finalizing a deal on how to fix the roads," said Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick.

The package would include a gas tax increase, "but it would be revenue neutral," said Skubick.

"In other words, taxpayers would get a break on one front and pay a little more on the other, but they would balance one another out," he added.

It's not clear when the lawmakers will come to a deal, or if Governor Gretchen Whitmer would support their plan. 

"Look for this to fall into place soon and then if they agree, they'll take it to the governor to see if she'll go along, too," said Skubick.

The state's current gas tax is 18.7 cents per gallon.

Looking to fulfill her campaign promise to "fix the damn roads," Gov. Whitmer proposed a controversial 45 cents-a-gallon hike in the state's gas tax. The provision was thrown out by a Senate subcommittee, which approved $132 million in accelerated funding for roads in the 2020 transportation budget, falling far short of Whitmer's call for $1.9 billion per year. 

The Michigan Department of Transportation earlier this year said at least $1.5 billion more is needed to improve the condition of state highways. According to MDOT Director Paul Ajegba a lack of investment is the core reason for Michigan's crummy roads. He said the state's per-capita spending on roads ranks 46th lowest in the nation and last in the Great Lakes region. 

So, what are gas prices right now? AAA Michigan, which surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state, says the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gas is about 16 cents less than a year ago.

AAA says the state's highest average is in the Ann Arbor area at around $2.92 per gallon, and the lowest price is in the Traverse City area at around $2.69 per gallon. Prices in the Detroit area are around $2.89 per gallon.