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Rural communities deserve better roads plan

Here in Michigan, we value hard work, fairness and responsible spending.

The governor’s proposed 45-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase — which she continues to tour the state discussing — does not reflect any of these values.

Her proposed increase was a rushed solution to a nuanced and complex problem. The simple fact is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer didn’t do the necessary work when she proposed funding roads repairs with a massive tax increase. Throwing money at the problem in the short term doesn’t deal with the deeper questions we face now. How will we attract the workforce needed to fix our roads, in the midst of a skilled worker shortage? Is there better road-building technology available that will help Michigan avoid facing a problem of this scale in the future?

My colleagues on the state House Transportation Committee have been seeking answers to those important questions and others, so we can better plan for the long term. The House is committed to putting in the work, even if the governor won’t.

Worse than being short-sighted, her plan also has a very short reach.

Most of the funds generated by a 45-cent gas tax increase would not benefit rural areas like the 106th state House District that covers Northeast Michigan.

Instead, funds would be allocated to urban areas and freeways, based on a weighted formula, and more funding would go to cities, not rural areas.

Bottom line, local communities lose under Whitmer’s plan. The smaller the community, the smaller the funding.

Her plan simply does not reflect the kind of careful planning and responsible spending that has been the hallmark of policymaking in Lansing during the last legislative term. The governor’s proposal would levy billions of dollars of new taxes on Michigan families without a clear plan.

The quick-fix proposal disproportionately affects areas like ours, where we drive long distances, often in older vehicles, to meet basic needs like picking up groceries or getting to the doctor’s office. We will be paying more while we receive less.

That is doubly damaging for our seniors and families on fixed incomes. We don’t need to raise taxes on our most vulnerable — the people we ought to care for the most. We need a plan that works for all Michigan families.

We’ve got a lot of ground to make up from the recession years, but the solution can’t be laying exorbitant new taxes at Michiganders’ feet.

That’s why I’m committed for the long haul and will work to find infrastructure solutions that protect Michigan families and their communities.

State Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine, was first elected in November 2016 to the Michigan House to represent the people of Alpena, Presque Isle, Alcona, and Iosco counties, as well as parts of Cheboygan County, including the townships of Aloha, Benton, Burt, Ellis, Forest, Grant, Inverness, Mentor, Mullett, Nunda, Walker, Waverly and Wilmot.