This is an excerpt from a column I wrote last week for Deadline Detroit. 


By Chad Selweski

So, the choice is this: Potholes that will rattle your teeth, or an astounding gas tax hike that will rattle your brain.

A coalition of former lawmakers on Thursday proposed a 47-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase, phased in over nine years, to fix Michigan’s deteriorating roads. The recently formed Michigan Consensus Policy Project (MPCC) released a report that concludes the price tag for repairing and rebuilding the roads is $2.7 billion a year, and that 47 cents per gallon is the only way to raise that kind of money.

“There’s no question there is a need. No question it’s important and … it’s got to be solved,” said Ken Sikkema, a Republican who formerly served as the state Senate Majority Leader, at a Lansing press conference. Some studies have rated Michigan roads, highways and bridges as the worst in the nation.

While the bipartisan group insists that its plan offers a dose of reality, motorists would feel a lot of pain in the pocketbook.

Under the proposal, the state gas tax would rise 7 cents in 2020 and a nickel more each year until it reached 73.3 cents per gallon, nearly triple the current rate of 26.3 cents. Unless other states followed suit, the increases would easily put Michigan atop the list of most expensive gas tax rates in the nation.

Based on fives examples of typical driving habits created by the Michigan Department of Transportation, a middle-income family of two with one car that uses 514 gallons of gas annually (approximately 13,000 miles driven) would pay an additional $240 a year when the 47-cent hike is fully implemented. A family of four with two cars that uses 963 gallons yearly (approximately 24,000 miles driven) would pay an additional $450 a year with the 47-cent boost.

Michigan’s gas taxes currently rank sixth-highest among the 50 states, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. The foundation puts Michigan’s levy at the pump at 44.13 cents, a figure that includes the state’s 6 percent sales tax charged on fuel purchases. Most states do not charge sales taxes on gasoline. In addition to the state taxes, a federal tax of 18.4 cents is imposed for each gallon of gas.

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