After gas tax fails, Michigan seeks another option for roads

Michigan’s Proposal 1, which would have raised the gas tax to 42 cents per gallon to pay for repairs to the state’s roads, failed by a landslide on Tuesday.

More than three-fourths of voters in Michigan voted against the proposal to raise money for roads, as few as 17 percent of which were found to be in “good” condition by the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council.

The question of what to do now lingers.

“Our leaders in Lansing must find a solution to fix our crumbling transportation infrastructure that ensures that everyone pays their fair share, while protecting our schools and communities from further cuts,” said Nathan Triplett, mayor of East Lansing and director of the civic engagement group Priorities Michigan.

“[Proposal 1] is water under the bridge,” Michigan House Minority Leader Tim Greimel told TI News Daily. “We have a responsibility as legislators to get back to work immediately and come up with a proposal to fix the roads that’s hopefully better than Proposal 1.”

While many in Michigan’s legislature have vowed to find another solution to the state’s infrastructure problem, few specific plans have been proposed. The premise that no “Plan B” existed was a major point among the proponents of Proposal 1.

However, State Rep. Gary Glenn of Midland has proposed reviving an older infrastructure plan to serve as that “Plan B” option.

Glenn’s proposal, named the Bolger Plan after former Michigan House speaker Jase Bolger, would retire the sales tax applied to the sale of gas and replace it with an increased gas tax to even out any changes in the price at the pump. The effect would transfer money often allocated to local governments and education and apply it to infrastructure.

Bolger, who first introduced Glenn’s proposed “Plan B” in 2014, no longer supports the plan bearing his name. In an open letter from May 4, Bolger said, “Proposal 1 is the best and only realistic chance we likely have for years to come for safer roads and a better Michigan.”

“It’s unclear what majority Republicans are going to focus on moving forward,” Greimel said. “We certainly hope it’s not the Bolger Plan, but are not sure yet exactly what direction they’ll go in.”

But with the failure of Proposal 1, “Plan B” could well stand for “Plan Bolger.”