Michigan’s Roads, Bridges and Highways

Michigan’s roads have been in horrible shape for years. We should be able to agree that we need a new approach. It’s time to get D.C. out of the way and put Michigan First so we can finally fix our roads.

My plan is simple: let’s keep about 15 cents per gallon of what Michigan’s motorists and truckers pay in federal gas taxes when we fill up our tanks. We know how to fix our roads and bridges, and what solutions work to reduce traffic congestion and keep Michigan roads safe. We do not need D.C. telling us what to do or how to do it.

Under the current broken system, we rely on those federal gas tax dollars for about 1/3 of our transportation budget. But remember, those dollars come from drivers in Michigan. We are taxed 37 cents per gallon of gasoline—just over 18 cents a gallon from Washington and 19 cents a gallon from Lansing. Rates for diesel are even higher.

Too often, our money that goes to Washington gets run through the bureaucratic ringer and is returned to us with all sorts of mandates and strings attached, which add up to 20% in costs. Michigan’s motorists are being shortchanged.

We can do better than that. In fact, the whole process would be much more efficient if we didn’t have to send Michigan’s money to Washington in the first place.

I want to be clear: I am not talking about cuts. I am talking about putting Michigan First by removing the Washington middleman and keeping our money closer to home — closer to Michigan families driving to visit loved ones, closer to Michigan small businesses shipping their goods, and closer to Michigan’s communities who rely on the roads to get our children to and from school safely.

If we reduce the federal gas tax, states like Michigan will be free to design their own transportation funding mechanisms rather than a one-size-fits-all approach like the government is doing with health care. Let’s let Michigan determine how much money we need and the best way to use it. In fact, many states are already taking steps to reform the way they fund transportation projects.

The real question here is not about money. The real question is: Who is in charge of setting our transportation priorities, Michigan or Washington? On that question, the answer is clear to me: let’s put Michigan First.

My Michigan First plan for Roads, Bridges and Highways includes:

  • Gradually reduce the Federal Gas Tax:Over several years, Congress should reduce the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax to around 4 cents and allow states to decide how they can best pay for the transportation infrastructure they need. During this transition, Michigan’s transportation infrastructure projects would be funded through federal block grants.
  • Eliminate Federal Bureaucratic Red Tape: States lose up to 20% of our gas tax dollars complying with Washington’s rules and regulations. Cutting out the federal government will save billions of dollars over the long term. That means more money spent on asphalt and steel, and less on red tape.
  • Let States Decide: Empowering states to make decisions about how to maintain, build, and upgrade their transportation infrastructure will produce better, more locally oriented decisions. I want people from Michigan, not bureaucrats deciding how to run our transportation infrastructure.

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