Lawmakers adjourn for week without road deal

Posted at 10:49 AM, Aug 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-19 21:35:52-04

LANSING, Mich. -- Late Wednesday evening, a final deal remained elusive as lawmakers in the House adjourned  for the week after failing to come to a compromise on a $1.2 billion road funding plan.

A House-Senate bi-partisan panel met Wednesday morning but quickly went at ease to allow talks to continue between legislative leaders, with hopes of reaching a deal before the end of the week.

Currently on the table is a plan to hike the gas tax and vehicle registration fees to raise roughly $600 million in new revenue. Another $600 million coming from existing general funds would also be dedicated toward roads. The plan being discussed calls for a 5-cent increase in the gas tax.

In June, the Senate voted through a 15-cent gas tax hike over three years, tied to inflation. That plan has had little traction with House Republicans, some who are reluctant to support any type of tax increase.

With enough Republicans scoffing at the possibility of supporting such a tax hike, approval of a final deal going forward could very well rely on securing Democratic votes.

Democrats have said the plan relies too heavily on existing general fund money. Many have also taken issue with plans from both the House and Senate which have called for outright elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit for working poor families in the state.

A spokesperson for Minority Leader Tim Greimel said Wednesday redirecting $600 million in general funds to transportation would risk other budget priorities.

“I would think that within the Republican leadership that we can come to an understanding and know that we have an issue, it's not going to be reflective on everybody’s interests 100 percent but where can we give and where can we make this work," said Rep. Ken Yonker, R-Caledonia.

“I believe that it’s going to be done by tomorrow night, it will be done. People of the state deserve that and I think we’re very focused on getting that done.”

With the House not scheduled to be back in session until after the Labor Day holiday, several lawmakers had expressed interest in getting a deal passed before adjournment on Thursday.

Gideon D'Assandro, spokesperson for Republican House Speaker Kevin Cotter said a deal failed to full materialize because "others wanted to bring up unrelated issues to make them part of the debate."

The goal is to address "just the roads, like the people demanded when they shot down Prop 1," D'Assandro said.