Voters head to polls to decide on Prop 1

LANSING, Mich. (AP Modified) -- Michiganders will head to the polls today to decide on a tax increase that would generate $1.2 billion a year more for roads. Gov. Rick Snyder is urging voters to approve the proposal, saying the tax hike is needed to ensure safer roads. 

Proposal 1 is the only statewide question on the ballot for Tuesday's election.

LINK: Breaking down Proposal 1 

If approved, the amendment would also allocate nearly $300 million to schools and $90 million to local governments through a series of changes, including raising Michigan's 6 percent sales tax to 7 percent as of Oct. 1.

Ten other laws will take effect if the measure is approved, including restructuring and more than doubling the 19-cents-a-gallon state gasoline tax and increasing vehicle registration taxes. Also, the sales tax at gas pumps would be eliminated. That tax currently goes mostly to schools and local governments, so lawmakers called for a sales tax boost on other goods to offset the lost revenue.

Snyder acknowledged that no one likes tax hikes, but he said this increase was vital. The governor said removing the sales tax on fuel without making other changes would have helped keep gas prices low, but it would have created a new problem by removing money for schools and local government.

"The simplest, clearest solution to that was to raise the retail sales tax from 6 to 7 percent," he said, noting that raising the sales tax requires voters to approve a constitutional amendment.

In an interview later with The Associated Press, Snyder acknowledged the proposal was complex.

"That is one of the challenges," he said. "And the reason it is complex is our current system is complex. This actually simplifies it, and that's one of the messages. The more people do homework, the more research they do on this, the more likely they are to move to a `yes."'

That message was reinforced by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, a Democrat who ran against Snyder in the 2010 race for governor. Bernero said he was previously undecided about Proposal 1, but decided to support it after studying the proposal.

"Bad roads cost more than good roads," Bernero said, adding that it's more costly to repair cars damaged by potholes and poor road conditions than to improve roads. "I will be voting for it. I am urging everybody to vote for it."

Critics say Proposal 1 would give money to special interests. They point to some of the new laws that would be triggered if voters approve the constitutional amendment, such as boosting a tax credit for low-income residents and raising money for purposes other than roads.

 



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