Snyder strategist opposes sales tax increase for road repair

Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-06 18:24:55-05

WEST MICHIGAN -- Many people agree Michigan's roads and bridges are crumbling. However, how to pay for repairs is a divisive issue.

Voters will have the final say on May 5.

"I think everybody understands the roads need to be fixed," Republican political strategist John Yob said.

Yob is the CEO of Strategic National in Grand Rapids. It's a political consulting firm.

"The roads are a problem, but the question is whether Lansing politicians should do their job and solve those problems that are in Lansing or whether they should have put a big tax question on the ballot," he said.

State lawmakers decided to do the latter. Governor Snyder calls it a bipartisan effort.

When the bill passed in December, Snyder said, "We did this based on principle and a series of principles that we all thought were important in coming up with a solution."

Instead of passing a road funding bill themselves, legislators deferred and voted to put the controversial issue on the May ballot for voters to decide.
It's called Proposal 1 and one key component calls for raising the state sales tax from the current 6% to 7%.

Yob said it's the wrong move.

"I'm opposed to Prop 1 because I don't think struggling middle class families can afford a 17%, billion dollar tax increase as we're trying to get this economy turned around," Yob said.

So the political consultant started the group "Citizens Against Middle Class Tax Increases." While he opposes the governor's view on this issue, the strategist was key in helping Snyder get elected twice.

"I have a great deal of respect for the governor. I think he'll go down in Michigan's history as the best governor we've ever had," the strategist said.

Yob added, "He's literally made history in passing historic achievements such as Right-to-Work, such as getting rid of the Michigan Business Tax, such as saving the city of Detroit."

The political consultant said he feels the state is now on the right track under Snyder. But he said people who are already struggling to pay their bills can't afford a tax increase.

If a majority of voters say 'yes' on May 5th, other measures in the proposal would help raise $1.2 billion for road funding each year.  That includes increasing the gas tax and a change to registration fees. Also the Earned Income Tax Credit would be restored for low-income citizens.

However, Yob said he's focused on the state sales tax increase aspect.

"I will leave it up to the legislature to come up with what they think the solution should be after this proposal hopefully fails. But I think they were on the right track before this when they were talking about basing it on future revenue growth," Yob said.

FOX 17 spoke with the public relations firm Martin Waymire. They're heading the "Safer Roads Yes" campaign. Roger Martin said Prop 1 guarantees for the first time that every penny Michigan drivers pay in state gas taxes will go to roads, bridges, and transportation. He said the fuels tax use is "no longer a shell game."

Martin said no one likes a tax increase, but no one like to see their bridges fall down either.