You knocked off two days of program-interrupting fundraising!

Every 50k knocks off a another day. Give before March 24 for maximum impact!

2 days down!

MichMash: Road Funding Debate Complicated by Urban-Rural Divide

WDET Digital

The road funding debate is in full swing at the state Capitol.

As part of the weekly series MichMash, Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth talk about one aspect of the negotiations that isn’t getting as much attention. And it’s all about where your tax dollars go after you fill up at the pump.

Click on the audio player above to hear that conversation.

Gov. Whitmer’s proposal to fix the gosh darn roads involves raising the state’s gas and diesel tax 45 cents per gallon. She also wants that money to be distributed outside Michigan’s main road funding distribution system — Act 51 of 1951.

That law isn’t often discussed outside of Lansing, but the idea of bypassing it is a big deal.

The system allocates funds across the state based on a number of formulas. In short, it distributes the money fairly evenly across Michigan. But it doesn’t account for things like relative need in different areas in the state. In other words, areas where roads are crumbling are treated the same as areas where the roads are in relatively good shape.

And, as the Citizens Research Council of Michigan writes — in a post on Act 51 that you should definitely read — “nor do the distribution formulas reflect actual road utilization. This means a two-lane road is funded the same as a four- or six-lane road and that roads with the greatest utilization or those with the greatest need (i.e., in the worst shape) do not receive priority.”

Jake Neher/WDET

State Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.)

This dynamic has created a deep divide between lawmakers from rural areas of the state (who tend to like the Act 51 system) and lawmakers from urban and suburban areas (who don’t). This divides even lawmakers of the same party.

I’m not just going to say just Northern Michigan or the Upper Peninsula should get all the money, but I want to make sure we get our fair share too, that there isn’t this perception that we’re a donor state or that we’re just giving it to Southeast Michigan or Detroit,” says state Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City).

Why should my dollars from Southeast Michigan…go up north?” asks state Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.).

When I go up north and pump my gas when I visit Traverse City and go see how beautiful the up north area is, I will pay the tax at the pump.” (Lucido is a proponent of gas tax revenues staying in the jurisdictions where they are collected).

Notice the Rs beside both of those names above.

Nothing has been done about the distribution model up to this point, and the chances of a change this time around seem daunting as well. That’s because the top leadership positions in the Legislature are largely occupied by rural lawmakers.

So as we head down this bumpy road of lawmaking and negotiation, remember that it’s more complicated than just the taxes you pay. It’s also where that money goes after you pay at the pump.

Image credit: Bre'Anna Tinsley/ WDET

Filed Under: #MichMash

This post is a part of MichMash.

Each week, WDET's Jake Neher and Michigan Public Radio's Cheyna Roth un-jumble Michigan issues and talk about how statewide news stories affect you. 

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

detroittoday@wdet.org  

Wait a second, there’s more…

MichMash: These Whitmer Cabinet Picks Will Inherit Huge Problems At Pivotal Moments

MichMash: 'The Ballad of Betty Jean,' Michigan's Real Life Political Mystery

MichMash: Do You Care About Celebrity Endorsements? Or Should We 'Terminate' Them?

MichMash: Whitmer Wastes No Time Changing Policy

MichMash: Do Running Mates Matter in Michigan's Race for Governor?

MichMash Elections Special: Breaking Down the Three Statewide Ballot Proposals

Can State Lawmakers Prevent Another Nassar Scandal?

MichMash: Experts Weigh Michigan's Piggy Bank, Setting Stage for Divided Government

MichMash: Running Mates Don't Usually Make a Difference. You Should Still Care.

MichMash: Can You Handle This Truth? You Need to Research Your MI Supreme Court Races

What Would Largest School Aid Boost in 17 Years Actually Mean for MI Schools?

MichMash: Could Divided State Government Jump Start Auto No Fault Overhaul?

MichMash: Here's Why Dems Might Vote Against Minimum Wage Increase

MichMash: This Week's Elections Were Huge -- We're Not Talking About the Midterms

Medical Marijuana Licensing Drags On--Are State Regulators Prepared for Legalization?

MichMash: Justices Vow #AgressiveNonpartisanship on State Supreme Court

MichMash: Will We or Won't We Be Allowed To Vote Straight-Party Ticket This November?

MichMash: Why We Will Probably Never See Another Election Like 2018 In Michigan

Four Tips for Watching Political Debates as Race for Governor Heats Up

MichMash: Cracks Forming in Foundation of Bipartisanship in Lansing

MichMash: 'Sign Here!' Signature Requirement for Independent Candidates Up In The Air

MichMash: Don't Be Dazed and Confused About Where You Can Have Cannabis

Four Things You Should Know About Prevailing Wage in Michigan

MichMash Digs Into State of the State In Hour-Long Special

MichMash: Making 'Boring Bills' Sexy Again

What Bills Might Waddle Through the Legislature During Lame Duck?

Monday Is The Last Day to Register for the August 7 Primaries in Michigan

MichMash: Whitmer Joins Growing Trend of Governing By Hashtag

MichMash: How To Watch Campaign Ads Responsibly

MichMash: Here Are Some Important Bills Flying Under the Radar in Lame Duck

MichMash: Could Too Many Ballot Proposals Cause Political Overload for Voters?

MichMash: Marijuana Could Once Again Be On Your Ballot in 2019

MichMash: A Light At the End of The Tunnel For Line 5 Pipeline?

MichMash: Attempt to Make Petition Campaigns More Difficult Could Backfire on GOP

MichMash: Check Your Ballot Before You Wreck Your Ballot [VIDEO]

MichMash: Government Watchdogs Say Effort to Increase Transparency Falls Short

MichMash: When State Systems Fail--Your Right to Sue Could Be Ticking Away

MichMash: Is Compromise Possible After Contentious, Chaotic Lame Duck?

MichMash: Who's 'Over The Line' In Dispute Between AG Schuette, Civil Rights Commission?

MichMash: How To Avoid Surprise, Confusion When You Hit The Bottom of Your Ballot

We want to hear from you.
Share your thoughts and opinions: