A local lawmaker has proposed an amendment to the House’s transportation budget plan that would require the Michigan Department of Transportation to explore the feasibility of implementing tolls on Michigan roads.
Republican State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township amended the 2020 MDOT budget during House debate on Thursday to include language for a study on the viability of toll roads in Michigan. It would investigate the use of tolling in other states, federal regulations related to tolling as well as timelines and costs. The study would be submitted to the Legislature in March 2020. Republican State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township says she has heard a lot at the local and state level in testimony as well as from just being out and about in the community and people often question why Michigan doesn’t have toll roads and if that could be a potential source of revenue. 35 other states in the nation charge tolls on some of their roads. The state has considered the concept before but ultimately decided against it.
Meanwhile, a divided Michigan House approved a budget plan Thursday in which sales taxes collected at the gas pump would be shifted to road repairs. Bollin supported the plan and says the House proposal streamlines and enhances the funding available for K-12 schools by removing higher education line items. Bollin says overall, the plan raises the state’s minimum per-pupil foundation allowance $180 per student for all Livingston County schools. She says early literacy and career training are special focuses as the overall school aid fund would surpass $15 billion. Finally, she says the budget plan continues investment in state programs and services crucial to protecting the environment and drinking water.
Majority Republicans have billed the shift in sales tax revenue as a key component of their counterproposal to Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s call for higher fuel taxes to fix deteriorating infrastructure. Democrats in opposition say the budget, which they referred to as a “shell game”, offers no real solutions for fixing Michigan’s transportation issues and the spending bills would create new problems by diverting money from schools and municipalities.
Michigan spends less per capita on transportation than many states but has fuel taxes that rank among the country’s highest. That’s because it assesses a sales tax on gasoline – which is rare – while the revenue primarily helps fund education and local governments. The House vote was the latest step in what could be a protracted budget process that extends into summer. (JM)