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Legislation expected in January to change how road repairs funded


Legislation is expected to be introduced next month to change the way Michigan pays for road maintenance.

Governor Snyder has a two-part plan for road funding. The first part would switch to a gas tax based on the price of fuel, instead of the number of gallons sold. That’s important because gas tax revenues are slipping as people drive more fuel-efficient cars.

"What that does is it allows us to actually grow our revenue over time so we’re able to maintain the roads in appropriate condition," said Keith Ledbetter of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, which supports the governor’s plan. 

The second part of the governor's plan is to raise drivers’ registration fees. Ledbetter says the changes will be tough one for some lawmakers to support, but "people need to recognize that we do have a public policy problem. We are not able to keep up with our road repairs, and the price of those repairs are going to escalate at astronomic rates unless we take care of the problem."

Another plan, in the state Senate, would get rid of the state’s gas tax and boost the Michigan sales tax from six percent to seven percent. The revenue from that additional percentage point would be dedicated to roads. Ledbetter says that would be an improvement over the state's current gas tax. But he says that change alone would not raise the additional money needed to keep up with road repairs.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
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