Skubick: Local gas tax plan revs up

Michigan

You could get a chance soon to vote for a gas tax increase with all of the money staying in county to fix local roads.  

The plan is teed-up for a House vote next week but gas station owners are teed-off about it.  

Currently when you pay the gas tax at the pump all of the money goes into a state fund and is used all over the state.

Under this latest proposal, you could vote for a gas tax hike for your county and all of the money would go to fix your local roads.

“There’s nothing more democratic than the vote of the people,” insists House Transportation Committee chair Rep. Jack O’Malley.

Mark Griffin with the Michigan Petroleum Association counters, “It’s going to create problems. It’s bad public policy.”

And so the battle lines are drawn as a House committee will likely send this local option gas tax to the floor where 4800 gas station owners will pressure lawmakers to vote “no”.

The lobbyist for those station owners fears voters will impose a tax hike in their county but then drive to a nearby county without the gas tax increase which will cost owners money.

“Most consumers will drive five minutes to see five cents a gallon,” claims Griffin. “So you think they won’t cross the county line on the other side of the road and frequent the businesses that aren’t in those counties. Sure, they will. That will hurt all businesses in your county.”

Rep. O’Malley takes another view. “It’s not going to be this great calamity.”

The representative argues if gas station owners place, on the pump, the fact that the gas tax is staying local, motorists will not wander off to save five cents.

“Things can be tricky but i think we can make this work; its not a widespread issue,” says Rep. O’Malley. “Let the people know on the pump and people are going to do it.”

The two sides face off next week with Mr. O’Malley confident he has the votes to move this and Mr. Griffin is marshaling his forces to make sure he does not.

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