Thursday, October 30, 2008
Ditch The Gas Tax?
The price of gas is coming down. How about a plan to lop another 19 cents off a gallon of petrol? That recommendation will be released next week after a special infrastructure task force puts a ribbon on its "menu of ideas" for raising the moola to fix the roads. Scrapping the gas tax because it is no longer working will be, on the surface, a popular political move, but. And there is always a but. The gas tax would be replaced with a percentage fee that would be tacked onto each fuel purchase. The group has not discussed what figure that should be, but dollars to donuts it will replace most, if not all, of the road dollars lost by eliminating the fuel tax. There is speculation that motorists might end up with a net savings of a few pennies, but don't put them in your piggy bank just yet. The road building lobby, which has renamed itself the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, is always on the prowl for more money which is why it and others will also embrace a local tax option, toll roads, higher license and driver registration fees and who knows what all. "We need a comprehensive solution," notes one industry lobbyist. Comprehensive is a fancy word for "lots" of revenue as the road guys want at least a billion more in cash during year one and another two billion after that. Of course to do all this requires votes from state lawmakers. And once the election is safely out of the way, those folks will wander back into town and may vote on some of this stuff. One fly in the ointment however. After last year's tax hike, there are some who believe the state is in no mood to do it again. Suffice it to say the road lobby won't concur.