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Lawmakers: Tax increase needed at the pump

  Legal Business  -   POSTED: 2007/04/04 16:54

Some Michigan lawmakers think a gasoline tax increase is needed to improve the state's roads.

A campaign by Drivemi.org encourages an increase in transportation spending, with a backing from AAA, construction companies, labor groups and chambers of commerce.

A bipartisan bill to increase the gasoline tax nine cents per gallon over the next three years has been introduced in Lansing. But as gas prices increase, are motorists willing to pay more at the pump?

"I think it's necessary. The roads are really bad. I don't know if I'm willing, but I will," motorist Barb Fles told 24 Hour News 8.

"If it will surely help with road repair, I'm for it. But if gas goes up any higher, we're all going to be walking or riding together," adds fellow motorist Mitchell Robertson.

The president of the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association tells us they have analyzed federal and state transportation statistics.

"We've identified the need - $2.7 billion. And that's not paving the streets in gold. That's just getting it to the point of being adequate," said Brian Slagter.

The gas tax currently brings in about $931 million each year distributed six ways - $300 million used by the Michigan Department of Transportation; $300 million distributed among 83 counties; cities and villages receive $170 million; public transit gets $100 million; $37 million goes toward road projects critical to economic development; and $24 million supports bridge, railroad and recreation areas.

It has been ten years since the gas tax was raised. Supporters argue a transportation fund increase would put Michigan on par with surrounding states.

At 19 cents per gallon, Michigan's current gas tax is one of the lowest compared with Illinois and Indiana. The highest is in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio - 32 cents, 30 cents, and 28 cents respectively.

24 Hour News 8 spoke with MDOT officials who tell us they prioritize need, and this year everything on their list will get done.

Plus, numerous West Michigan county road commissions have taken a hit when it comes to funding projects.

Supporters of the proposal say if the measure is approved, not only will road conditions improve, but 50,000 new jobs will be created in the process.


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