The big news story out of Lansing this week centers around road repair funding, and how to pay to fill in all the extra potholes and repair the crumbling roads that were created by the long, hard, cold winter here in Michigan.
Most of the smoke and fire centered around the gasoline tax, and how it is inadequate to fund the couple of billion dollars needed to do everything that needs to be done. Michigan has a flat 15-cents per gallon gas tax (in addition to what the feds charge us) which is decried as a decreasing pot since cars today are so much more fuel efficient, thus using less gas. One proposal is to repeal that flat tax and replace it with a 15% wholesale gasoline surcharge, so the higher the wholesale price goes, the more tax revenue it (supposedly) churns out.
The other plan that has gotten a lot of churn is one to repeal the gas tax all together and add an extra percent to the state sales tax.
After debating these and other proposals, and all kinds of wheeling and dealing, the pols left for their summer break without doing anything of any substance. To me, this was the best of all possible outcomes for Michigan taxpayers.
I am as frustrated by the decrepit state of the roads here as the next guy, but I am more frustrated by a political class that is unwilling to do anything but add to the tax burden of an already over-taxed populace. The hand of government at all levels keeps reaching deeper and deeper into the pockets of its citizens for more and more "necessary" or "compassionate" projects, or "investments in our future" that never seem to pay off, but always seem to require more money than originally projected.
To all you takers in Lansing I say enough! I say if you want to fix the roads, then cut some new park that you want to build, or office allowances for legislators, or taxpayer-funded junkets to "open up new markets", or any combination of a hundred things you could cut if you really thought about it for, oh, five minutes or so.
The other important thing for you economic illiterates over there to consider is this: one of the axioms of economics is if you want less of something, tax it. So while the dollar signs keep rolling before your eyes, consider that if you increase the gas tax, you will get less driving because nobody can afford the gas to do anything but drive to work every day. Those dollars are not going to roll in, and in two years, when you realize it, you will be back in our pockets again wanting even more.
So good for you, legislators, for doing nothing. It's the best thing you could have done for all of us.