Friday, May 15, 2009

The gas tax push is official

Here we go. The gas tax push was not a boy who cried wolf. The wolf is there, and it is a push of several bills. Peter Luke has the story. One correction to his story. The gas tax in Michigan is NOT 19 cents. I repeat. It is not 19 cents. It is about 31cents when you add sales tax.

From the Flint Journal

LANSING -- Lawmakers and road advocates began what will be a months-long push to raise $1.8 billion in higher gas tax and registration fees over the next half-decade that they say is required to keep Michigan roads in decent repair.

Under the 13-bill package partially introduced Thursday, the gas tax would effectively rise from 19 cents to a maximum of 34 cents per gallon over the next seven years. Registration fees for new cars would jump as much as 20 percent annually over the next five years. By 2014, the annual cost of registering a new $27,000 car purchased that year would be $265. The current fee is $136.

Higher-priced used car registrations would rise about 60 percent under the plan by 2014. The price of registering low-value used cars would remain about the same.

In a new local funding option, counties would be able to seek a voter-approved $25 annual fee on driver's licenses to pay for local road needs.

The package also includes legislation to encourage private transportation investment and authorizes the Michigan Department of Transportation to explore charging tolls in Michigan. It provides an additional $50 million annually for local public transportation.

The intent is to raise an additional $1.8 billion in new funding over time, but quickly generate enough cash to make sure Michigan doesn't forfeit some $2 billion in federal road funding through 2013, which the state currently lacks the money to match. Without that match, the $2 billion would fund road projects in other states.

Peter Varga, executive director of The Rapid transit system in Kent County, said that $2 billion has already been paid for, through federal fuel taxes paid by Michigan motorists. "Ironically, (that's) money that we already sent to Washington that would not be coming back. Think about that."

I posted on this issue several times in the past year, most recently on April 18 when Peter Luke was advocating for this. A lot of the numbers used from the budget were there.

These proposals for tax increases are even WORSE than the numbers I used, which was based on a nine cent increase on the gas tax. They want 15 cents increase per gallon. Of COURSE the sales tax isn't touched, and is ALWAYS ignored by the Lansing elite when they talk about the gas tax.

Keep in mind that this is all based on FALSE assumptions, that only gas taxes and resgistration taxes can pay for the roads.

One issue that isn't addressed is why Michigan roads suck compared to Indiana's? or Ohio's? I know the "freeze/thaws" are used as an excuse, but Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota all have freezes and thaws. All these states have storms and rains and snow.

Gas taxes for comparison, not counting the federal taxes.
Michigan - About 31 cents a gallon. ($2.40 gas)
Illinois - 32 cents a gallon
Indiana - 29 cents
Iowa - 22 cents
Minnesota - 26 cents
Ohio - 28 cents
Wisconsin - 33 cents

I haven't driven in Wisconsin, Iowa, or Minnesota, so I can't compare their roads. Ohio and Indiana roads are much better than Michigan's roads, despite slightly lower gas taxes. I don't know their registration fees, but it's a racket here.

The problem is that there is something shady in this state and I'd like to see the contractual agreements. Roads are built on the cheap around here. There's always repairs. There's always orange barrels out there. The roadbuilders are one of the more influential lobbyists out there. They want to build the roads on the cheap. If they do a good job, there's less work next year. Nothing needs to get fixed. So we use the cheap materials in Michigan, and turn this all into a makework project, the government can always run on fixing things, and their buddies get their government cheese. Instead of fixing that problem to begin with, it's the old "we need more taxes" which is the "only solution" even though we have one of the highest gas taxes in the country, currently over 30 cents a gallon.

Here's a newsflash to the Lansing elite. Most of the time, the so called "only" solution isn't the only one, and the "only" solution is even worse than doing nothing. Government screwed it up to begin with.

Build the roads right, and leave us alone. Any politician in this economy who supports a tax increase, especially on the worst one of them all, needs to get run out of town and out of politics forever.

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