Critics call lawmaker's plan B for roads 'preposterous'

A new development in the controversy over how to fix Michigan's crumbling roads. One state lawmaker claims there's a way to fix the roads without raising the state sales tax - by using money from the state insurance fund. But, insurance industry officials say lawmakers can't do that.

"I think it's as ridiculous as it is preposterous and its probably not even legal," said Roger Martin, from the Vote 'Yes' Campaign.

Not everyone believes that. 

"Who's saying ridiculous and preposterous, I surely am not," said Rep. Peter Lucido (R-Macomb County).

Do you believe it is?

Rep. Lucido said, "I don't."

The legislature created the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Fund to provide lifetime unlimited benefits to those who are severely injured in a car wreck. Lucido claims there is a huge surplus in that fund which you could use to fix the roads without a tax hike.

"There's $18 billion in that fund," Lucido said. "That $18 billion right now is generating $730 million in interest alone. If the taxpayers put that money into that fund, why don't we take it out of that fund?"

The insurance industry is saying that it's illegal.

"The misconception out there is that this is a public fund and its available by appropriations by the legislature. It's not," said Peter Kuhnmuench, an insurance industry lobbyist. 

Could the legislature change that law to get to that money?

Kuhnmuench said, "The legislature created the fund, so it is a creation of statue."

The lobbyist says the industry would likely fight that move because it would drain the surplus that is sometimes used to pay for catastrophic claims.

Enter the debate, the public relations firm promoting a 'yes' vote on the sales tax hike. Roger Martin says all this legislative chatter about a plan B to fix the roads is "unicorns and fairy dust."

"We're talking about unicorns and fairy dust now and we all know that's not going to happen," Martin said. "Virtually every plan B that's been mentioned here has been something that won't fix the roads and it won't pass and if it won't fix the roads and it won't pass, then it's a wish and not a plan."

Rep. Lucido says he has a bill to change the law, so the legislature can dip into that surplus fund.
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