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Speer: Increase in gas tax is not the answer

February 3, 2012
Bill Speer - Editor/Publisher , The Alpena News

The message seems pretty simple: Michigan residents don't want an increase in the state's gas tax, even if it were to be used for improving state highways.

Not surprising, it is a message that has been the same for over a year now in polls, and one that coincides with large increases residents keep experiencing each time they fill up their vehicles with gasoline.

The latest poll was one released this week that revealed 58 percent in opposition to any increase, with only 36 percent in favor of it. The poll was conducted for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV by EPIC-MRA of Lansing.

Another recent poll, this one by Americans for Prosperity, Michigan, showed 80 percent opposition to the tax increase, and only 13 percent support.

Currently in the state legislature are proposals that would both raise the tax on gasoline as well as increase the fees for vehicle registration. If the package were approved, it would raise an additional $1 billion a year that could be used for road and bridge repairs.

Yet, as the poll indicates, there is little public support for such a measure.

Which doesn't surprise me in the least. As readers know, I have advocated publicly for over a year now my opposition to any gas hike.

How can we continue to reach deeper into the wallets of every Joe and Jane in the state each time they fill up their vehicles? Joe and Jane have little disposable income left now from week to week, and a tax increase only will continue to adversely impact the economy we so desperately are trying to invigorate. The whole concept is counter-productive and regressive in nature.

All of us understand that our roads and bridges need repaired. None of us believe the "road fairy" will stop by and do it for us if we just ignore it. Unfortunately, how best to raise the funds needed for such work is the problem.

Recently a state legislator shared with me he had been approached with a suggestion that perhaps the revenue should be generated from auto and truck items, such as tires. As tires need replaced on vehicles, a fee could be assessed in the tire purchase. The rationalization is that those people who drive more miles each year, and thus use the highway system more, will pay their fair share of repairs through the fee.

It is a concept with merit that should, at least, be considered. Similar items on vehicle parts also might be considered.

Personally, I'm tired of reading about any proposed gas hike increase. If the "experts" are right in their predictions, you and I could well be spending in excess of $4 a gallon for gas as the summer progresses this year, and frankly, that should all but kill any consideration of a gas hike concept.

Should it not, however, I would suggest one more. With every Michigan House seat up for election in November, and many Senate seats as well, I would urge state residents to let candidates know very clearly that if they want your support, they have to oppose any gas tax increase.

State residents, through the polling booth, control their own destiny this year.

Let your voice be heard loud and clear: No to any increase in gas tax.



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