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Survey Highlights Public Misconception Regarding Gas Taxes

Monday, October 13, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nancy Brown
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October 13, 2014

Contact:     Mike Nystrom

                     Executive Vice President



                    Ronald Fisher

                    Professor of Economics

                    Michigan State University



Survey Highlights Public Misconception Regarding Gas Taxes

Michigan citizens want better roads and they want to see more investment


            Okemos – A recent survey regarding the on-going road funding issue showcased the public’s support for increased investment and clearly demonstrated the vast misconceptions surrounding Michigan gas taxes.


            The survey was conducted by EPIC-MRA as part of a research project by economists at Michigan State University and California State University to study how much and why voters misunderstand fuel tax amounts.  The survey shows that half of voters overestimate the amount they pay in state gas taxes by a factor of five, according to Ronald Fisher, professor of economics at MSU.  In addition, 89 percent of people polled said that state and local governments should be spending more on the maintenance of existing roads than they do currently. Given the amount of roads that exist in Michigan and their condition, 41 percent of people polled said state and local governments should also be spending more on construction of new roads than they do currently.


“It’s extremely heartening to see that a large majority of the public understands the need for increased investment in our infrastructure,” said Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA). “Now we need to make sure that any lingering confusion regarding gas taxes is eliminated, so that everyone has a clear understanding of exactly how much it will cost.”


Fisher added that voter misperception of the amount of gas tax they pay stems from voters thinking the gas tax rate in Michigan is higher than it actually is, rather than overestimating the amount they drive.  When asked to consider what the average Michigan driver pays in state gasoline tax each month, 50 percent of those surveyed said $50 or more.  The correct answer is about $10, based on the state’s 19 cent per gallon gas tax. The proposal that nearly passed the Michigan Senate in June would have increased that $10 by another $10 a month in a five-year phase-in.  Even though drivers greatly overestimate the amount of taxes paid, the survey showed a clear majority would be willing to pay more than what they do currently to improve Michigan's roads.


“That $10 a month is minimal over a five-year period when you consider that many individuals have had to pay thousands of dollars annually and unexpectedly in unnecessary vehicle repairs and other costs related to our deteriorating and unsafe road conditions,” Nystrom said.


Nystrom also said that he hopes to continue working with the Legislature to find a permanent, long-term road funding solution as quickly as possible. “We’ve kicked the proverbial can down the road for years and years and years,” he said. “The condition of our infrastructure is so poor that pretty soon there won’t even be any roads left to kick the can down.”


MITA is a leading voice in the efforts to increase state infrastructure funding, and represents a broad spectrum of heavy construction companies and suppliers that help build a better Michigan from the ground up. For more information, visit






Attachment: EPIC/MRA Statewide Poll

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