LANSING, Mich. — Michigan motorists would be asked to pay higher fuel-related taxes and vehicle registration fees in exchange for improved roads under proposals introduced Thursday in the state Legislature.
The multi-bill, bipartisan package would raise an estimated $1 billion more each year for the state's roads and bridges. Supporters say Michigan must cough up more money for improvements now rather than face much higher repair bills in the future if roads continue to deteriorate.
"We're trying to avoid a future, larger expense," said Rep. Rick Olson, a Republican from Saline who supports the legislation.
The bills effectively would have motorists paying about 9 cents more in gas-related taxes per gallon than they do now. A tax tied to the wholesale price of gas, translating to about 28 cents per gallon, would replace the state's 19-cents-per gallon gas tax. The wholesale tax also would replace the state's 15-cents-per gallon diesel tax. The new tax could fluctuate slightly with the price of fuel.
Annual vehicle registration fees would climb by an average 67 percent, or roughly $60 per vehicle. The increase would vary based on a vehicle's worth, with owners of more expensive vehicles paying more.
The proposals could be altered as supporters try to win approval in the Republican-led Legislature. Some lawmakers likely will be hesitant to raise fees or taxes, even though most agree Michigan's roads need improvements.
Some lawmakers are first focused on a plan to allow counties to get rid of local road commissions and absorb their duties to cut administration costs. Other ideas include moving some of the 6 percent sales tax now collected on fuel to road funding rather than going to the state's general fund. The portion of the sales tax going to public schools and local governments would not be affected.
But increased funding has the support of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. He's pushing lawmakers to raise an additional $1.4 billion a year for roads and bridges.
Other bills in the broad legislative package introduced Thursday would help create a regional transit authority for much of southeast Michigan, the state's most heavily populated region.