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There’s no doubt about it: Michigan’s roads are noto­ri­ously bad. But a new state budget pro­posal by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is even worse.

If Whitmer has it her way, Michigan res­i­dents will face an addi­tional 45-cent tax at the gas pump in October to help fix the state’s roads. The cost would vary depending on the driver, the car model, and miles driven, but early esti­mates have the annual cost to tax­payers at $255.

According to the Federal Highway Admin­is­tration, Michi­ganders drive on average 14,121 miles per year. The average vehicle fuel economy for 2017 model vehicles was 24.9 miles per gallon, per the Envi­ron­mental Pro­tection Agency report released last week. Put those figures together and Michigan res­i­dents are left with an addi­tional $255, on top of the three dif­ferent taxes already required at the pump.

This pro­posal would give Michigan the highest fuel taxes in the U.S. Whitmer said the tax could bring in $2 billion annually for the state’s roads fund, but there’s no guar­antee that money would stay in said fund. As state Rep. Lee Chat­field (R‑Levering) wrote in an op-ed for The Detroit News, some of the money raised from the gax tax will inevitably be siphoned off for other pur­poses — such is the nature of bureau­cratic reg­u­lation.

Whitmer pulled this tax hike out of her pocket at the last minute. And iron­i­cally, she scoffed at the idea of a 20-cent gas tax during her guber­na­torial cam­paign last year. During a tele­vised debate, Whitmer’s Repub­lican opponent Bill Schuette accused her of advo­cating for a 20-cent gas tax.

“That’s ridiculous,” Whitmer replied.

“No it’s not,” Schuette said.

“It’s non­sense and you know it,” Whitmer con­tinued.

But after assessing alter­native options, Whitmer said she con­cluded that a tax hike — more than double what she orig­i­nally opposed — is Michigan’s best solution.

But what hap­pened to the 2015 road package? The state leg­is­lature approved several price hikes, including fuel and vehicle reg­is­tration fees, that would provide $1.2 billion each year for road funding. Though the plan won’t be fully ini­tiated until 2021, it was sup­posed to guar­antee the state $880 million this year alone. On top of that, the state leg­is­lature appro­priated surplus general funds for roads repairs, amounting to $357 million this year, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Whitmer’s addi­tional tax encourages inef­fi­cient and inef­fective gov­ernment. She’s right about one thing: Michigan’s state rep­re­sen­ta­tives have been irre­spon­sible. “Leaders haven’t been honest with us,” Whitmer said last week. “And they haven’t forged real solu­tions.”

But handing the leg­is­lature a bigger check won’t fix Michigan’s fiscal mis­man­agement or its roads. It’s time for our state rep­re­sen­ta­tives to step up and find a solution within existing funds.

Michigan’s roads won’t fix them­selves, but when it comes down to it, most tax­payers would rather swerve to avoid pot­holes than cut another check.

Kaylee McGhee is a George Wash­ington Fellow and a senior studying Pol­itics.

 

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Kaylee McGhee
Kaylee McGhee is a senior at Hillsdale College, majoring in Politics with a minor in Journalism. This is her fourth year writing for the Collegian and she serves as the paper's Opinions Editor. Kaylee worked in Washington D.C. last year and wrote for the Weekly Standard. Her work has also appeared in the Detroit News and the Orange County Register. Follow her on Twitter: @KayleeDMcGhee email: kmcghee@hillsdale.edu