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Legislature sends road-funding plan to governor

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature on Tuesday passed a road funding package that provides significant new money to repair, maintain and improve the state’s crumbling transportation system, while also instilling reforms to ensure that the revenue will be used in an effective manner.

“The Senate and House have partnered to send a solid plan to the governor that makes significant strides toward the proper funding of our roads,” said Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Decades of underfunding got us to where we are today. Proper infrastructure is a core function of government, and we need to ensure that we don’t look at these changes as a final solution, but as the beginning of a renewed focus on proper governmental prioritization.”

The initiative proposes a combination equally split between reprioritizing existing state resources and adding new revenue. While some approaches had called for an all-gas-tax increase or all-registration-fee increase approach, the final plan relied on smaller increases to both sources of revenue while adding to the law stricter road warranties and an emphasis on longer-lasting roads that may cost more initially but save money in the long run.

The plan would also provide fairness and equity with the way taxes are calculated for diesel and alternative fuel vehicles so that everyone is paying their fair share.

“Everyone benefits from our roads, whether you are driving on them yourself, relying on the bus, having packages delivered, or letting emergency services or utility workers do their jobs,” Shirkey said. “Better roads also attract new businesses and their jobs and will help continue our state’s economic turnaround.”

The legislation will also make other reforms to the state’s tax system, including changes that will improve Michigan’s Homestead Property Credit in a manner that will allow more people to qualify for receiving income tax credits. Those changes, along with a new mechanism that will automatically lower future income tax rates if state government brings in too much new revenue, would also be part of the law.

The bills now head to the governor, who is expected to sign them.