GOP leader: Odds low for road funding deal soon
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A multi-pronged plan to raise more money for road and bridge repairs by asking Michigan voters to increase the retail sales tax doesn't appear headed for a vote — at least for now.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said Tuesday the odds of lawmakers voting to put a sales tax increase on the May 7 ballot by Thursday's deadline are below 10 percent.
"With the complications, the new ideas and the fact that there was so little time to begin with, it's probably a small percentage," he told reporters. "But it's still alive."
Of the alternatives being floated to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed $1.2 billion in gasoline tax and vehicle registration fee increases — which he detailed a month ago— one has been pushed to the forefront in the GOP-led Legislature because of timing.
It would effectively raise the 19-cents-a-gallon gas tax, exempt the sales tax from gas purchases — which currently does not go to transportation spending — and replace the revenue for schools and the general fund with a 1 percentage point bump in the sales tax.
A problem with trying to boost the sales tax to 7 percent is the fact that two-thirds votes are needed in the House and Senate for a constitutional amendment, and voters could reject paying more taxes at stores and restaurants. The appeal of the plan, though, is legislators could tell drivers their price at the pump would stay the same and all fuel taxes would go to deteriorating roads.
Richardville said road funding could be resolved in time for the construction season if it is on the already scheduled May ballot, but he did not rule out a special election or waiting until the August election.
He said the votes are unlikely this week because no specific proposal has been agreed upon, some legislators thought leadership talks were moving too quickly and some are pitching more of their own ideas.
Not putting something before voters in May, Richardville said, "maybe enhances the possibilities of other ideas being wed to it — it being a more eclectic solution than a one-way kind of solution."
Email David Eggert at deggert(at)ap.org and follow him at http://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 .