By Rep. Annette Glenn
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's proposed 45-cent per gallon gas tax ran her 2019-20 state budget off the road in Lansing and nothing - including her threat to shut down state government unless lawmakers agree - will pull it out of the ditch.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy calculates Whitmer's tax increase will severely damage our economy, eliminating 22,500 private sector jobs. It will hit those who can least afford it the hardest: seniors and other citizens living on fixed incomes, working families, college students and our ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population.
An April poll by Marketing Resource Group found 75% of Michigan voters oppose Whitmer's tax hike - 89% of Republicans, 78% of Independents and even 58% of her fellow Democrats.
In the fall of 2015, the Legislature approved a sweeping plan intended to provide a long-lasting solution to Michigan's road funding crisis. The initiative will not be fully phased in until 2021, adding $1.2 billion per year to road repairs through new and existing revenue.
In addition to the increased funding from 2015, the Legislature in recent years - through responsible budgeting - has committed even more resources to accelerate road repairs. All combined, Michigan is making record-high investments in road repairs and is expected to spend $4 billion in 2019.
It's evident if we are to truly repair our state's roadways, it's going to take more than just throwing record amounts of money at the problem. It's going to take innovation.
Americans have managed to build a rover that lasted 15 years on Mars, yet we can't construct roads that hold up longer than a few years before needing to be repaired in Michigan? We all understand the impact freeze-thaw cycles and the punishing winters have on our roadways. It gives us all the more reason to explore new options on types of asphalt mixtures and to find longer-lasting solutions.
If you look at other states, you will find Dow Chemical is currently creating a new use for post-consumer recycled plastic to pave roads. While deeming the project a success and it will take more years of evaluations, the preliminary results look promising.
Drivers rolling atop an asphalt mixture composed of discarded shopping bags could be mainstream. If Michigan were to follow suit on this, we wouldn't just be finding a cheaper remedy for our roadways - we would be finding a use for the millions of pounds of plastic that would otherwise be clogging our communities' landfills. Another innovative asphalt mixture even uses old tires!
We can be proactive in finding common-sense and fiscally responsible solutions to improve our roads. That begins by using existing tax dollars entrusted to us in the most efficient and effective methods possible, so we don't further burden Michigan drivers and their families with even more taxes.
As your state representative, I encourage people to reach out with ideas. You can also watch the House Transportation Committee at http://www.house.mi.gov/htv.asp to follow the progress of this discussion. If you have suggestions on road funding or any other state-related issue, please contact my office at 517-373-1791 or AnnetteGlenn@house.mi.gov.
State Rep. Annette Glenn is a Republican member of the Michigan House of Representatives. She represents the 98th House District, which encompasses portions of Bay and Midland counties.