Townhall meeting tonight at 7 on proposed tax hikes

Local state lawmakers are making a road trip to Spring Lake tonight to talk about the future of Michigan's transportation funding.
Alex Doty
Feb 26, 2013

State Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, and state Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Township, are hosting a town hall meeting at Spring Lake District Library at 7 tonight to discuss the issue.

“I am holding these town halls to hear directly from the people about the best way to fix and maintain our infrastructure before we commit to a long-term solution,” Meekhof said.

One set of ideas introduced in Lansing would double the gas tax from 19 cents a gallon to an equivalent wholesale tax of 37 cents per gallon. This tax could rise or fall no more than one penny each year, up to a ceiling of 50 cents.

Another proposal is to hike vehicle registration fees by 80 percent, while commercial trucks and tractors would pay 45 percent more.

Another idea is a constitutional amendment to increase the state’s sales tax to 8 percent. The increased money would be used to top of the tank on the state budget for road and bridge repair projects.

With the sales tax plan, the fuel tax would be eliminated.

Meekhof said providing the funding to improve roads and bridges is important for the economy and for the state’s residents.

“I support the idea of improving our transportation infrastructure, because the safety of our families and the health of our economy both rely on quality roads and efficient ports,” he said.

Price said she is reading up on the proposals and spending time trying to determine what would be the best course of action for transportation funding.

“I am still working my way through all of this,” she said. “I am very hesitant about what the governor has proposed because it is such a large increase so quickly.”

Price said Snyder is also looking to change how the funding would be distributed.

“The governor is proposing a different formula than what we have now,” she said. “The weighting formula says 8 percent of the roads bear 75 percent of the traffic.”

Price suspects that will take money from West Michigan, where there is less traffic, and shift it to other areas of the state where the traffic loads are heavier.

Local residents have mixed feelings regarding the proposals being considered in Lansing.

Joan Jensen of Spring Lake said if the state is going to do anything, she would prefer that the fuel tax be changed as opposed to registration fees and sales tax.

“I believe I would choose gas before I’d choose registration fees, or before I’d choose the sales tax increase,” she said. “I believe if you use something, you can pay that luxury.”

Compared to what a sales tax hike would do, Jensen said shifting driving habits could put the brakes on the impact of the fuel tax.

“A few extra cents on that gasoline wouldn’t matter if you were purchasing things that were going to be charged 8 percent,” she said. “You can cut down on the way you use your car, and so you can cut down on using gas.”

Having made a lot of purchases recently, Jensen said an 8 percent sales tax would have really added up.

“I bought a new condo in August so I made a lot of purchases,” she said. “That 8 percent — had it been made at that time — would have been a huge increase.”

Grand Haven resident Peggy Haig also wonders what the possible increases might mean to her personal budget.

“I understand Michigan is very broke and needs more money, but there has to be an alternative,” she said.

Haig noted that the last time state lawmakers increased the sales tax, it increased the burden on her.

“It was supposed to lower the property tax," she recalls. "I voted for it because I live in a mobile home, and I thought it would make the mobile home people’s property taxes go down so they wouldn’t have to keep raising the lot rent. They continued to raise the lot rent, so I was paying that plus the higher sales tax, and that really hurt.”

HOW TO CONTACT LAWMAKERS:

Gov. Rick Snyder

Phone: 517-335-7858

Address: P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, MI 48909

Rep. Amanda Price

Phone: 888-238-1008

Email: AmandaPrice@house.mi.gov

Address: N-1193 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909

Sen. Arlan Meekhof

Phone: 866-305-2130

Email: SenAMeekhof@senate.michigan.gov

Address: P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909

Comments

gordbzz231

interesting subject, need to get people back to work so there will more money, the mentioned above is only a short term fix

tech

How about another plan, get the money from somewhere else in the budget by cutting spending! Notice how our Rep's give us choices that only involve US paying more. When will they understand "NO NEW TAXES/FEES!" Cut spending.

bradwebber79@gm...

id also don't like just for the fact we have lower traffic that our dollars will leave our area. later in the year when funding gets low our dollars are gone and how or were do they shift money back to our area that we already should have had. good to help out others but better be available later when we need it.

Lanivan

I hope there is a big showing tonight. In the GH Tribune survey, the vast majority of over 600 people voted no new taxes. Unfortunately, faced with a revenue shortfall (due in part to the huge new reduction in the corporate tax rate), there's very little chance of no new taxes. The issue is whether to take the quick, easy, and simple way of increasing the state sales tax, gasoline tax, and vehicle registration fees to the highest levels in the country to get that revenue, or spread out the pain with a spending cut/tax plan that focuses equally on all users of our transportation systems. This will take some work, however. Let's see if our legislators can earn their 2nd-highest-in-the-country salaries.

rainbowjoe

Cutting government spending is the only option. Not one more dime in new taxes or fees. We're already getting hammered from all sides, so much so that I'm considering bailing out of Michigan after moving back only a few years ago. It may be wishful thinking, but I sure hope we have a new crop of innovative statesmen and women waiting to replace the collection of buffoons we have at the local, state and federal level. We need an overhaul, or we're headed for an implosion of some sort.

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