News Story

Some Basis For Voters' Suspicion No Tax Hike Needed To Fix Roads

53.3% say state has enough to fix roads; fiscal agency says $897 million is available

A majority of likely voters in Michigan believe the state has enough money to fix the roads without imposing a new tax increase. That’s according to a recent survey commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and conducted Jan. 14 to 18. A majority of respondents — 53.3% — said there is enough money to fix roads without a tax hike, 33.7% said there isn’t, and 13% gave no response.

The head of the firm that conducted the poll disagreed.

“Michigan’s elected leaders continue to lose the PR battle on additional road funding. By a margin of 53%-33%, Michigan voters continue to believe that the state already has enough money to fix the roads as compared to needing additional revenues. As far back as 2012, we talked about how voters did not understand why Michigan needed more road money. And eight years later, voters still don’t understand why Michigan needs more money for roads,” said Richard Czuba, founder of Glengariff Group Inc., in a news release put out by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

But voters’ intuition has some support from official budget projections.

The Senate Fiscal Agency estimates that the state will have $897 million in unspent dollars when the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, 2020. Lawmakers could decide at any time to use all or some of that money to pay for more roar repairs.

In addition, budget officials and analysts who convened earlier this month say that total state revenue in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, could rise another $574 million above their last estimate.

In 2015, the Legislature increased vehicle registration taxes, effective 2017. That tax increase was projected to add at least $226 million to the state treasury in 2020.

The same legislative package included a motor fuel tax increase that was projected to bring in another $298 million for state transportation spending in 2020. Based on other recent state revenue increases generated by a growing state and national economy, the actual amounts are likely to be even higher.