Proposal 1 defeated. Franz says House expected to start plan B next week.

May 5, 2015
Rep. Ray Franz

Rep. Ray Franz

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

LANSING — State Representative Ray Franz of Onekama was a little surprised this evening when he started to see the news reports stating that Proposal 1 will likely be defeated by 85% of the vote. Franz, a Republican who represents Mason, Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau counties, was one of the few legislators to vote against putting the proposal on the ballot late 2014.

In Mason County, the vote was defeated 5,163 to 819, consistent with the state vote.

If passed, Proposal 1 would have amended the Michigan Constitution to raise the sales tax by 1 percent. If passed, $2 billion of the money raised by the tax increase would have funded road repairs — eventually. Money would have also gone to public transportation, schools and municipalities.

Since January, Franz said he has traveled over 10,000 miles around Michigan informing the public about Proposal 1 and its complexities. Though Franz was against the proposal, he did not encourage or discourage citizens from voting either way.

“I figured if I educated the voters on this proposal they would be smart enough to figure it out themselves, and obviously they were.”

Franz said the group was opposed by both sides of the political spectrum.

“This is everybody from the tea party to union Democrats, everybody across the spectrum, who opposed this and have sent a message to Lansing.”

Franz said he believes one of the reasons the proposal was defeated was because of its complexities.

The proposal, which was supported by Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders, would have raised the state sales tax by one percentage point but exempted fuel, triggering 10 other laws, including a statutory increase in fuel taxes.

Franz said he expects the House of Representatives will begin seeking an alternate plan as early as next week.

“I think the starting point will be the Bolger Plan,” Franz said, referring to a $1.2 billion a year road funding bill that passed the House last year but was defeated by the Senate.

The proposal put forth by Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, would have phased out sales tax collections on fuel purchases between 2016 and 2021 but increase fuel taxes by a corresponding amount.

Fuel taxes are one of the state’s primary funding sources for roads. Most sales tax revenue, meanwhile, is constitutionally earmarked for the School Aid Fund and municipal revenue sharing programs.

Since that proposal came about, the Republican party has taken over the Senate. Franz said he expects the House and Senate will be able to work much closer this time and take care of the roads.

“I don’t think we would follow the Bolger Plan completely. The new proposal would most likely involve some new revenue but it will be dedicated. I think the message was clear today that the citizens of Michigan want a road repair bill that will do exactly what we say it’s for: to fix the roads.”