By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.
LANSING — State Representative Ray Franz (R-Onekama) who represents the 101st District (Mason, Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau counties) in the Michigan House of Representatives, said he compromised his principles while voting for the Michigan road bills that have passed the legislature.
With the passage of the transportation bills, Michigan motorists would typically pay about $20 more for their vehicle registration fees and spend about $1.17 more for a 15-gallon fill-up under fee and tax increases passed by the House and Senate earlier this week. The increases are part of the $1.2 billion road funding plan.
Franz has publicly questioned the need for additional road funds since Michigan already spends over $4 billion a year in transportation. But, when it came time to a vote, he voted in favor of the increase; the bills passed in the House 54-53 while it passed in the Senate 55-52.
“I firmly stand by my belief that tying the gas tax to inflationary increases sets a dangerous precedent for Michigan’s future, and I stood fast for as long as I could,” Franz said. “Unfortunately, I lost that argument with my colleagues and I could not in good conscious be the lone obstacle to addressing the road package as a whole.
“I lost a piece of my soul Tuesday night because I betrayed my values, my principles and myself.
“I hope it was worth it to those who wanted this package so badly.”
The plan also includes changes to the Homestead Property Tax Credit and an income tax rollback that would start in 2023 if growth in Michigan’s general fund exceeds the rate of inflation multiplied by 1.425. Some Michigan residents could see their homestead credits increase by $300 a year. Tax increases take effect on Jan. 1, 2017 after the next election.
Democrats were almost unanimous in their opposition, saying the plan was not only fiscally irresponsible for shifting $600 million in general fund dollars to the roads without identifying where those cuts would come from, but also that it doesn’t get fully phased in until 2021.
“The majority party is saying it’s OK to kick that fiscal plan down the road,” House Minority Leader Tim Greimel was quoted saying in a published report. “The worst part of this entire package, it won’t even be phased in till 2021. This is a sham, it’s a joke, it’s a pretense.”
Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the bills.