State Senate preparing to weigh House road funding plan

Posted at 5:52 PM, Oct 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-22 17:52:59-04

LANSING, Mich. -- The House-approved road funding plan is receiving mixed reviews in the Senate.

"This is another attempt to look like you're fixing the roads and actually you're not doing it," State Senator Jim Ananich said.

Ananich, who represents Genessee County, is the democratic minority leader for the Senate. The Republican-controlled House passed the bill Wednesday night. Republican Senator Arlan Meekhof said it's a good first step.

"Speaker [Kevin] Cotter did a good job marshaling his troops to find, find a way to get new revenue for our roads, and I congratulate him on that," Meekhof said.

(The House plan laid out: click here)

The plan includes $600 million dollars in new revenue from the general fund, as well as another $600 million from higher gas taxes and vehicle registration fees. However, democrats are taking issue with this plan because they say House republicans aren’t specifying just what will be cut from the general fund budget. Plus, vehicle registration fees would increase by 40%. That would take effect October 2016. These are just a few aspects.

The plan in its entirety would be phased in by 2021. While democrats believe this bill is like kicking the can down the road, Meekhof said time is not an issue at this point.

"Well, we got to build roads that last a long time too. So I'm not overly concerned about the amount of time. I'm more concerned about, we have the opportunity now to put new revenue towards the roads. And they'll have a better and safer infrastructure for our citizens," Meekhof explained.

Ananich said, "It doesn't fix roads. So I'm going to continue to try to work with leader Meekhof and the Governor and hope that we can get back to the table."

"We were so close to a real solution. There's no reason to, sort of, pass a gimmick in order to say 'well we're done with it.' And I think that's what the house did yesterday," he added.

Leaders from both sides said senators will spend the weekend mulling over the House plan and come back together Tuesday to discuss it.