Gas Tax Increase Needed

By Aram Kalousdian, Editor | September 28, 2010

Approximately 44 percent of Michigan's urban interstate highways are congested compared to one-third nationally, according to a report that was presented in April by Paul L. Anderson, principal and chief executive officer of Anderson Economic Group, L.L.C., at the Michigan Aggregates Association Annual Meeting in Pontiac.

The report says that approximately 30 percent of other urban freeways and expressways in Michigan are congested, compared to approximately 20 percent nationally; 15 percent of other principal urban arterials in Michigan are congested compared to 11 percent nationally; 13 percent of minor urban arterials in Michigan are congested compared to 8 percent nationally; and 11 percent of urban collector's are congested compared to 6 percent nationally.

Michigan's rural interstate highways did better than the urban interstate highways. Approximately 9 percent are congested, compared to 7 percent nationally. Approximately 2 percent of other principal rural arterials in Michigan and the United States in general are congested. No minor rural arterials or rural major collectors were found to be congested in Michigan. All of the data are from 2005.

Anderson pointed out that as fuel economy improves and the gas tax remains the same, gas tax revenues decline.

"Michigan's economy is bad and it's getting worse and it's not all because of the automotive industry. Michigan needs to develop a business tax structure that reduces the burden on businesses. Every single state representative and state senator takes telephone calls. They should hear from you on whether you think taxes should go up or down," Anderson said.

"We need to invest in infrastructure in order to remain competitive. As concerned as I am about business taxes, I think we need a gas tax increase. I'll tell you that this is a very, very tough sell. Citizens are tired of more taxes and unfortunately, this tax, which goes pretty directly to what benefits them, is lumped in, in their minds, with all of the other taxes. They smell something wrong with them paying taxes and not getting the services.

"So, I would say that the biggest problem here is asking for a gas tax increase in an environment where people are fed up with paying high taxes and not getting good results, and where they're concerned about losing their jobs."