Nofs: Senate passes comprehensive road plan

Nofs200x300LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Tuesday passed a seven-bill road funding package that would ensure a fair and responsible plan for Michigan’s roads and bridges in order to repair, maintain and improve the state’s crumbling transportation system.

“Michiganders want a fiscally responsible approach to tackle the problem of our crumbling roads and bridges,” said Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “And that’s what we’ve done by redirecting existing General Fund resources to roads without having to ask for any larger commitment from hardworking families than necessary.

“During the town halls I participated in this past year regarding road funding, citizens made clear that the time is long past to stop the talk and do what is necessary to make sure communities have the resources to fix local roads.”

The initiative proposes a combination of new revenue and reprioritizing existing state resources, which would ensure the necessary funding for Michigan’s transportation system.

New revenue would come from a gas and diesel tax increase and implementing a road use fairness system where hybrid and electric vehicle registration would increase along with a license plate registration fee adjustment. The plan would provide equity with regard to taxes on alternative fuels.

“Gas taxes have not been increased since 1997, and this proposal still comes in at less than the rate of inflation for that period,” Nofs said. “I think we can all agree that our roads are in poor shape and getting worse, and this plan addresses our transportation issues both in the short and long term.”

The proposal, when fully implemented, would also guarantee $600 million of income tax revenue annually is used for transportation purposes before it reaches the General Fund budget.

“We felt it was important to balance a combination of new revenue and reprioritized spending to cover the cost of fixing our roads,” Nofs said. “Just as a family has to manage their household budget to live within their means, we are prioritizing current revenue for roads before it is dumped into the general fund pot.

“A major barrier to my support for this plan was the 40 percent increase in registration fees. I was able to successfully advocate for cutting that increase in half and believe that a fair compromise was reached.”

Nofs said that fixing Michigan’s roads makes the state more attractive to new businesses, which will help create well-paying jobs and continue our state’s economic turnaround. The plan passed by the Senate will empower local road agencies to fix their roads — which is where the greatest need currently exists.

The bills now head back to the House for concurrence and then to the governor’s office for consideration.