Rep. Triston Cole released a statement today stating that the Michigan House is prepared and working to address roads and infrastructure, along with the entire state budget, with real solutions including far better options than Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 45-cent per gallon gas tax hike.
“I have been part of the Republican leadership team working diligently throughout the summer listening to and working with actual road builders and a conglomerate of infrastructure professions on crafting a very detailed roads solution,” said Cole, the House’s Majority Floor Leader and a former chair of the House Transportation Committee. “We will fulfill our constitutional duty of passing a new state budget by the Oct. 1 deadline.”
Cole, of Mancelona, said time has run out on waiting for the governor to back away from her wildly unpopular and unnecessary 45-cent per gallon tax hike proposal – a misguided plan that would force Michigan drivers to pay the highest fuel taxes in the nation.
Cole said the gas tax would disproportionately cripple blue-collar and rural Michigan residents, who often have to drive farther to work and other obligations than the statewide average. The tax hike proposal also would disproportionately hurt lower-income families who would be forced to pay a greater percentage of their earnings in gas taxes. Also, Whitmer’s distribution plan for the gas tax hike would not help rural Michigan roads nearly as much as those in metro areas such as Detroit while still extracting higher taxes.
“House Republicans have presented several different, multi-pronged comprehensive long-term options to the governor – all of which would add to Michigan’s record road funding without her 45-cent per gallon tax hike,” Cole said. “We’ve tried to work with her in a bipartisan fashion. But she has clung to her one and only plan – a plan Michigan simply can’t afford.”
A pillar of the House plan calls for making sure all taxes currently paid at the gas pump go to fix roads. The budget plan approved by the House in June would redirect the 6 percent general sales tax motorists already pay at the pump to road repairs – which would add nearly a billion additional dollars for roads without a tax increase.
Cole noted there are several other elements in the House budget plan that should not be dependent on a roads resolution. A crucial example is school funding. Cole supports the House plan that would raise the state’s minimum per-pupil funding allowance by $180, while continuing to close the per pupil funding gap between districts across Michigan.
It’s part of a House plan that would boost the current record school funding above $15 billion.
“There is too much at stake here to keep everything in the state budget tied to accepting the governor’s gas tax increase,” Cole said. “There are better options available, and I’m going to join my colleagues in advancing them while blocking a huge gas tax increase.”