By Andrew Merkle
The Holt Journal
They say there are two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes. In Michigan it might be safe toadd a third: deteriorating roads. The condition of roads continues to worsen across the state, and lawmakers have pondered ways to fix the problem.
In Michigan, the current proposed method is an increased retail sales tax increase that will be for the purpose of increasing transportation and infrastructure funding, as well as allowing for increased education spending.
Michigan voters will take to the polls to decide on this issue – Proposal 1 – May 5.
Michigan State University economics professor Kenneth Boyer spoke with the Holt Journal regarding an increased retail sales tax.
“There is nothing to recommend a sales tax as a replacement for fuel taxes since they distort decisions on where and when and how much to drive,” Boyer said. “This makes drivers think, for example, that there is no cost to the public by using a road.”
Proposal 1 would increase the state’s retail sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, and would also eliminate the sales tax on gasoline.
According to an analysis of Proposal 1 conducted by the House Fiscal Agency, if the bill were passed it would lead to increased spending for education as well as increase the earned income tax credit.
The passing of Proposal 1 would increase the amount of sales tax dollars allocated to the School Aid Fund. This fund would also be used solely for the funding of public community colleges, public career and technical education programs, as well as scholarships for students attending either of these institution options.
The School Aid Fund would no longer fund public institutions of higher education.
Another option is a mileage tax. Mileage taxes are similar to a toll and would send more correct signals to drivers regarding the cost of their decisions of driving and where to live and work, Boyer said.
Michigan State senior Kevin Rosenbrook is a Holt native and comes across tens of potholes during his drives to and from class.
“It’s awful,” Rosenbrook said. “I needed a front end alignment last weekend because of a huge pothole near my neighborhood.”
The incident occurred at night, and Rosenbrook was not able to see the pothole in time to be able to avoid it he said.
Regarding an increased sales tax, Rosenbrook is on the fence.
“I’m not so sure (an increased sales tax) is the right way to go, but something has to be done, and it would be better than nothing,” Rosenbrook said. “These roads are just awful. It happens every winter, so you’d think there would be a plan in place to fix the roads in spring.”