Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gov. Snyder Proposes $1.4 Billion In New State Taxes To Fix Roads

That title comes straight from the Gongwer story on Snyder's road proposal at Mi-Tech News.

$1.4 billion in new state taxes. Now, chances are the whole thing won't pass intact, but the fact that this is even being suggested should bring us to a place where it's well past time to point out an important fact about the "no new taxes, ever" Michigan Republicans.

Why is it that when it comes to health benefits and pay for teachers and public employees, or basic sustenance for the poor, or weeks of benefits for unemployed workers, or building a new bridge to Canada, or any number of other programs that help citizens, the Republicans will gnash their teeth and rend their garments and wail endlessly about how they need to protect all those struggling, over-burdened taxpayers of Michigan, but when it comes to funding their priorities, such as big tax cuts for businesses and better roads for businesses, suddenly massive tax increases on those same citizens are A-OK and, by gosh, the right thing to do?

Anyone? Anyone want to tackle this subject? Because let's say this does pass in its entirety, as it's slated to come up next year, and probably well before the election. That would mean that, between the tax increases they passed this year and this road proposal, in less than two years in office, mind you, the totally Republican-controlled government will have raised taxes on Michigan citizens to the tune of roughly $3 billion dollars in total.

$3 billion. Stop and think about that for a minute. If the Democrats had proposed such a thing, the Tea Party types would have gone apoplectic, and would have taken to protesting with their silly hats and sidearms every damn day down in Lansing.

And you know it.

Governor Rick Snyder called for overhauling how the state funds and maintains its road system Wednesday, to generate $1.4 billion in new revenue most say the transportation system needs. It could result in $120 more per year in vehicle registration fees.

Snyder's plan delves into the three fundamentals of the system: where the money comes from, how it is distributed and who is in charge of spending that money. Mr. Snyder, in delivering his special message on infrastructure at Lawrence Technological University, which is developing new materials that can replace rebar, said the subject may not inspire the same passion as education or other issues, but it should.

"It's what we take for granted," he said. "And what we take for granted is slipping." As Gongwer News Service reported Tuesday, Mr. Snyder floated the concept of an increase in state vehicle registration fees to generate the $1.4 billion in new revenue most say the transportation system needs.

Snyder said he was not formally proposing a $120 per vehicle increase in the fee, which is set at 0.5 percent of the manufacturers suggested retail price, but called the idea a "worthwhile concept" and it certainly seemed that is his method of choice to raise the money. He also is framing the proposal as "$10 a month" although such fees are paid annually, not monthly.

Snyder also proposed, as Gongwer first reported Monday, allowing counties and regional authorities to levy a local vehicle registration fee to raise money for local transportation with voter approval required. The fee could not exceed an average of $40 per vehicle and would be collected by the state with the funds remitted to the local road agency.

So the local fee would be on top of an increased state fee? Wow. Ready to pay an extra $160 a year to register your car?

Asked about the additional cost to motorists that a vehicle registration hike would mean, Snyder said it at least was a way for motorists to quantify what they are putting into the system, as well as a sustainable source of revenue.

Well there you go. That makes it OK. All that other stuff mentioned above, not so much.

Be sure and read the entire Gongwer write-up on this proposal. The way other news stories have described the shift in the gas tax to wholesale seems to indicate that if the price goes up to a certain level, motorists will be paying more at the pump than we are now. It gets complicated, and let's wait until the final formula is presented, but call it a hunch you will be paying more whatever happens in the end.

There are some good things in there about Detroit transit, removing old dams, and broadband for the UP, but let's wait and see on those, too. For some reason, you just can't trust anything these guys say...