Road Funding Bill Headed To Conference Committee

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Michigan legislative leaders plan to appoint a House-Senate conference committee to craft a potential compromise bill to raise more than $1 billion a year in additional funding to bring road conditions up to par.

Lawmakers could move as early as Wednesday to form the panel in the waning days of the session that ends next week. The Republican-controlled committee would have three members of the Senate and three members of the House.

Both chambers agree that Michigan should convert its flat gasoline and diesel taxes to taxes based on the wholesale price of fuel, to keep pace with construction costs. But they differ sharply on how to generate at least $1.2 billion more per year in transportation funding.

The Senate has voted to more than double the gas tax over four years. The House has passed a plan to gradually repeal the 6 percent state sales tax at the pump and increase the wholesale gas tax by an equivalent amount.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and local officials oppose the House proposal because the sales tax on fuel is primarily directed to school districts and municipalities.

Supporters of the House plan say it’s a way to repair roads without a tax increase and ensure all taxes paid at the pump are spent on transportation. Detractors say the only responsible way to fix shoddy roads without harming other services is a tax hike, and smoother and safer roads would save drivers unnecessary vehicle repair bills and prevent traffic deaths.

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