(WLNS) – A state lawmaker claims there is a way to fix the roads without raising the state sales tax by removing money from a state insurance fund, but the insurance industry says the lawmaker can’t do that.
6 News Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick is sorting out that debate.
“I think it’s ridiculous as it is preposterous and it’s probably not even legal,” said Roger Martin, Vote Yes Campaign.
Reporter: “So when he says ridiculous and prosperous, you say?”
Rep Lucido: “Who is saying says ridiculous and prosperous? I surely am not.”
Reporter: “You believe it is?”
Rep Lucido: “I don’t.”
The legislature created the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Fund to provide lifetime unlimited benefits to those who are severely injured in car wrecks.
This lawmakers claims there’s a huge surplus in that fund and if you tap into it you could fix the roads without a tax hike.
“There’s $18 billion in that fund. That $18 billion right now is generating $730 million in interest alone,” said state representative Peter Lucido, (r), Macomb County.
“If the taxpayers put that money into that fund, why don’t we take it out of that fund?”
The insurance industry answers the question, you can’t do it, it’s illegal.
“The misconception out there is that this is a public fund and it’s available by appropriations by the legislature…it’s not,” said Peter Kuhnmuench, insurance industry lobbyist.
Reporter: “Could the legislature change the law to get at that money?”
Kuhnmuench: “Potentially, yeah. Certainly, the legislature created the fund so it’s a creature of statue.”
The lobbyist says the industry would likely fight that move because it would drain the surplus that is sometimes used to pay for catastrophic claims.
Enter the debate the PR firm promoting a yes vote on the sales tax hike.
Roger Martin says all this legislative chatter about a plan b to fix the roads is, get this, unicorns and fairy dust.
“We’re talking about unicorns and fairy dust now. And we all know that’s not going to happen. Virtually every plan b that’s been mentioned here has been something that won’t fix the roads and it won’t pass. And if it won’t fix the roads and it won’t pass, then it’s a wish, not a plan,” said Roger Martin, Vote Yes Campaign.
Representative Lucido says he has a bill to change the law so the legislature can dip into that surplus fund.