LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Senate Republicans have a plan to fix the roads, but it is drawing fire from both Democrats and Republicans who object to some of the provisions in the package.
Senate leader Arlan Meekhof has a road fix plan with a lot of moving parts including a gas tax hike, more state budget cuts and a possible income tax rollback.
The Republicn senators went into a closed door retreat to iron out the details earlier this afternoon but going in it was clear not everyone was on the same page.
Take Republican senator Jack Brandenburg. He opposes a gas tax hike but favors an income tax rollback. Problem is he’s not sure that rollback will ever materialize. “It’s all tax increases before any income tax relief, so I’m a no.” When asked if the move is a hint of a tax cut he replied “it’s a snack.”
Senator Meekhof reports the “snack” will be there if there is growth in the economy to pay for a rollback. “If we believe as republicans do that we can stimulate economic growth then the taxpayers should get the benefit of a rollback”. Senator Meekhof adds that any rollback would only happen with economic growth. “If it’s there, there’s a rollback, if it’s not there, there is no rollback.”
While some Republicans grumble about that, Senate Democrats don’t like the part of the plan calling for $700 million in addition state service cuts.
Senate Democratic leader Jim Ananich contends the Republicans want his side to vote on the cuts without knowing where the cuts will be made. “$700 million in cuts is pretty drastic especially since we don’t know where they cuts will be because we’re going to put that off to the future.”
The road building lobby believes this is a good compromise and it can justify a tax hike. Road builder lobbyist Lance Binoniemi says, “We haven’t raised the gas tax since 1997 and costs have gone up and we are paying a lot for repairs.”
After dining on steak, fish, pasta and stuffed chicken breast, the GOP senators tried to craft a package that would get enough votes to pass perhaps as early as tomorrow.