BARRY CAMPBELL: Taxes for road repair per Proposal 1
Jay Syrewicze, the Lake County Road Comm. Superintendent, in his letter to The Star on March 12, 2015, is asking for a "yes" vote on Proposal 1 on May 5 for road improvements in Lake County. While very few are opposed to road upgrades in Lake County and Michigan in general, we do have questions about the use of an increase in the sales tax for this purpose. If Proposal 1 passes it will generate about $1.7 billion dollars in the first year of which only $400 million would be used for roads, according to State Senator Patrick Colbeck of Michigan’s 7th district.
Where is the remainder going? I suppose to pay down debt, some for schools (I am not opposed to that) and other projects. I hope the new legislative office building in Lansing is not one of those projects.
People who use the roads should pay for the roads. Sales tax by itself discriminates against too many people. And … what are the chances that the tax would ever be rolled back when the need diminishes or stabilizes? Did I mention that as a rider to Proposal 1 that our vehicle registration fees will increase? Also, let’s not forget the people from our bordering states who use our resources and yet would contribute very little under Proposal 1.
Bottom line — the taxpayers in Michigan should not pay an unreasonable penalty because our lawmakers were unable to pass an equitable and reasonable proposal to fix and maintain our roads before last summer’s impending legislators’ vacation schedule. They have been waffling for years on this issue.
Incidentally, the aforementioned Patrick Colbeck indicates that we could raise $900 million and up after year one by not raising our taxes at all. His proposal involves using gas taxes for roads and roads only, freezing general fund budgets (except schools) and by prioritizing spending and reduction of expenses.
In conclusion, we simply need a better and more favorable solution directed explicitly toward fixing and maintaining Michigan roads other than by an ill conceived sales tax.