The road repair “plan” passed by the Michigan legislature this week has been touted as raising $452 million in the first year with the full $1.2 billion not kicking in until 2021. However, that “first year” is actually not until 2017. And, according to some great reporting by Chad Livengood at The Detroit News, we now know that, as soon as the funding kicks in, another $400 million will go away. In other words, there won’t be a substantial increase in road funding until 2018, over two years from now.
From Livengood’s piece:
The plan starts with a combined $452 million increase in higher annual fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees in 2017 that grows to $608 million in 2018. It is followed by gradually earmarking another $600 million of existing income tax revenue in fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Snyder confirmed Wednesday that the $400 million the state is dedicating from its general fund toward road improvements in the current fiscal year will disappear in the next fiscal year when $452 million in fuel tax and vehicle registration fee increases go into effect in 2017. The result is about a $52 million net increase in overall road and bridge repair funding — unless legislators contribute more from the general fund, the state’s main checkbook.
“That money does not reoccur in 2017,” Snyder said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
Critics of the road funding package said the $1.2 billion value of the plan is being overstated because the new taxes will initially backfill existing general fund spending on roads and bridges.
“If that money goes away, the net impact of this proposal is significantly less than what it’s being pitched as,” said John LaMacchia II, a lobbyist for the Michigan Municipal League.
It’s not just a bad plan, it’s a terrible plan that will do little to fix our roads in the near term and that blows a $600 million hole in our state budget that future legislators will have to deal with.
And this is what Republicans are patting themselves on the back about and calling “leadership”.