Senate committee votes to raise gas tax for roads as Plan B

(UPDATE:) The Senate committee voted to increase the gas tax by .15 cents a gallon over the next three years. The full Senate could vote on the plan by tomorrow.

If you've driven at all in the past few months, this next line won't surprise you: Michigan's roads are a mess. A new plan would pay for it, but it comes with a cost.

Senate Republicans proposed their plan to fix the roads but other members of the GOP and Democrats are objecting to the provisions in the package.

Senate GOP leader Arlan Meekhof proposed his road fix plan that has a lot of moving parts: a gas tax hike, more state budget cuts, and a possible income tax rollback. Meekhof and other GOP senators went into a closed door retreat to work out all the details Tuesday morning but not everyone was on the same page.

That includes Republican Senator Jack Brandenberg who opposes the tax hike and is actually in favor of the rollback. The problem is that he doesn't think it will ever materialize.

"It's all tax increases before any income tax relief. so I'm a no," Brandenberg told FOX 2's Tim Skubick that it's more of a "snack" than a tax cut.

Meekhof reports the "snack" will be there if there is growth in the economy to pay for a rollback.

"If we believe, as Republicans do, that we can stimulate economic growth then the taxpayers should get the benefit of a rollback," Meekhof said.

While some republicans grumble about that, Senate Democrats don't like the part of the plan calling for $700 million in addition state service cuts.

Senate Democratic leader Jim Ananinch contends the Republicans want his side to vote on the cuts without knowing where the cuts will be made.

"$700 million in cuts is pretty drastic especially since we don't know where the cuts will be because we're going to put that off to the future," Ananich said.

Road building lobbyist Lance Binoniemi believes this is a good compromise and it can justify a tax hike.

"We haven't raised the gas tax since 1997 and costs have gone up and we are paying a lot for repairs," Binoniemi said.

After dining on steak, fish, pasta and stuffed chicken breast, the gop senators tried to craft a package that would get enough votes to pass perhaps as early as Wednesday.

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