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Detroit Free Press: Someone must pay: Raising the state gas tax would make the most sense

Thursday, February 21, 2008   (0 Comments)
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The Detroit Free Press 

Someone must pay: Raising the state gas tax would make the most sense 

This spring is likely to be the worst for potholes that Michigan drivers have felt since 1997, when another freeze-and-thaw winter undermined pavement that was years behind in maintenance. The roads were so bad that year that then-Gov. John Engler ended his long opposition to a gas tax increase, approving a boost of 4 cents a gallon to 19 cents. The tax has not gone up since. 


Boosting it again is the most obvious solution to raise more money for needed road repairs. Each penny of gasoline taxes generates $50 million; the state is now about $320 million a year short of what's needed to maintain roads in their current condition. 


But after last year's epic battles over business and income taxes, Gov. Jennifer Granholm already has said no to all higher taxes and fees in Michigan this year. And with gas at $3 a gallon and unemployment at 7.6%, plus the House up for election this year, the political climate is not conducive. Maybe in 2009. 


Voters, however, would do well to remember the jarring sensation of slamming into a pothole at 40 m.p.h. when they go to the polls in the August primary and November general elections. Ask your candidates for state office what they propose to do about road upkeep, which is not free. 


If higher gas taxes are out of the question, raising the diesel fuel tax to the same level as the gas tax must be considered, as well as creating a toll road or two in Michigan and tacking a surcharge onto license plate fees with the revenue specifically designated for the maintenance of local roads. 

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