State Representative Shelley Taub, chairperson of the Michigan House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and a member of the House Appropriations Committee, told attendees of the recent 2006 County Road Association of Michigan Annual Highway Conference that there is no will in the legislature, or anywhere else, to raise the state gasoline tax.
"We can't ask the people in this state for a raise in the gasoline tax, even though they want the best roads that are as smooth as silk. How can you ask them for a gas tax increase when they are paying high gasoline prices? We have to think creatively and we have to think differently," said Taub, who is authoring a bill to allow Michigan to have toll roads and public-private partnerships.
Fred Veigel, of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, told Taub that if she had the courage to introduce a bill to allow toll roads, then she should have the courage to support a gas tax increase that is indexed.
State Representative Phil LaJoy, chairperson of the House Transportation Committee, said that one of the priorities he has is to do everything he possibly can to protect the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF).
"One of the things that I've done, along with Senator Jud Gilbert, is to sponsor House and Senate legislation to cap the Treasury Interdepartmental Grants (IDG) at $5 million," LaJoy said. "We'd like to eliminate the IDG completely, but we have to be realistic. However, we need to curb the IDGs. I think this is a great place to start," LaJoy added. LaJoy said that there are plenty of areas the state can cut from and possibly lessen the amount of IDGs.
LaJoy said that another bill that he introduced, House Bill 5607, calls for reissuing license plates, which will have an up-front cost to the MTF, but will provide more money to the MTF in the long run. Under the legislation, the new license plates will include the registration number assigned to the vehicle that the license plate is issued for.
"The bottom line of reissuing the blue plate will be an annual increase in the MTF of approximately $15 million. Believe it or not, we have a lot of people out there who go around the system and forge license plates license tags. There are all types of creative ways to get around the system," LaJoy said.