A Republican-rolled Senate committee cast aside Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s gas tax plan this afternoon while offering about a half-penny on the dollar of additional funding to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads.
On a 5-2 party line vote, the panel approved a GOP road budget that would add $132 million from the state’s general fund for repairs to county and city roads. That is about one-half of 1 percent of the estimated $2.5 billion needed to eventually bring all the state’s roads, highways and bridges up to good condition.
According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, rebuilding a four-lane road in urban areas, where deterioration is most significant, costs $8 million to $10 million per mile. As a result, the funding approved by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation would pay for reconstructing between 13 and 16 miles of pavement statewide in that four-lane category.
Republican lawmakers are offering no long-term changes to road funding, though they say they will offer a plan sometime in the summer. The annual budgeting process underway in the Capitol still faces several steps.
Whitmer’s proposal would raise $2.5 billion by hiking the state’s gas tax, currently at 26.3 cents per gallon, by another 45 cents by October 2020. It would also re-route some $600 million for roads in the general fund budget to education.
GOP members of the Legislature have given no consideration to the governor’s fix since it was proposed last month. What’s more, the $132 million is not entirely new money. It was budgeted as part of a phased-in road funding bill approved in 2015. The Senate action taken today would move up the effective date of the additional funds by one year.