Critics say MI House gas tax holiday bill puts road funding at risk

Posted at 9:05 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 21:05:13-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ)  — Concern about gas prices is bipartisan.

“The number one issue is the gas. The cost of gas right now,” said State Representative Tyrone Carter, a Democrat who represents part of Detroit, Ecorse, and River Rouge.

“The relief needs to come and it needs to come in a hurry,” said State Representative David Martin, a Republican from the City of Davison.

The effort to address gas taxes, however, is highly partisan.

“Republican leaders announce real plan to provide immediate relief at the gas pump, call on the governor to act,” read a press release sent out Wednesday morning by GOP leaders in the House.

Critics from both parties and independent organizations say suspending the gas tax could cost the state about $720 million in revenue needed for road projects.  Republicans said they expected a vote early in the afternoon. They then found themselves negotiating for hours. Ultimately it did pass with some Democrats voting for the tax holiday. 

State Representative David Martin (R-Davison) admitted the bill did not backfill the funding for road repairs but said it would be taken care of later. 

“The speaker promised to backfill the money,” said Martin. 

Local Road Commissions tell WXYZ the issue is the gas tax revenue is paid to them on a monthly basis to fund their operations. It is pothole season right now.  They told lawmakers the promise to replace the funding, if unkempt,  could put us all on bumpy roads.  They also are concerned that money that could be used to increase road funding will instead be used to cover lost tax revenue. 

Drivers who spoke to WXYZ say if we can have our roads fixed and a gas tax holiday, that would be great. 

The bill still has to be approved by the Senate and the Governor to be enacted into law. 

“Governor Whitmer is always working to lower costs and save drivers money. Right now, the best way to bring down the price of gas without impacting our ability to fix the damn roads is by suspending the federal gas tax,” said a statement released by her office.