Michigan business has responded to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's proposed gas tax increase calling it "a bridge too far." That word today from one of the state's leading small business organizations, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The Lansing-based organize has released today a survey of their small business members showing strong opposition to Governor Whitmer’s call for a 45-cent increase in the state’s motor fuels tax. The Governor proposed increasing the tax on gasoline at the pump as part of her 2020 budget proposal.
Charlie Owens is State Director in Michigan for the National Federation of Independent Business. He says today, “The Governor’s proposal would more than double the tax on gasoline when the sales tax is figured into the formula, and this would make Michigan’s fuel tax the highest in the country.” Owens adds, “While small business owners recognize the importance of good roads, this proposal is a ‘bridge too far’ as a funding solution.”
When asked, “Should the Governor’s gas tax proposal be adopted by the legislature?” 93-percent of respondents said “NO”, 4-percent said “YES”, and 3-percent were undecided.
When asked, “Instead of a gas tax increase, would you support an increase in the state sales tax (which would require a statewide ballot vote) to 7 cents if the additional 1 cent increase was dedicated strictly to road funding?” 60-percent of respondents said “NO”, 32-percent said “YES”, and 8-percent were undecided.
The question posed wasn't as simple as that single sentence. NFIB leaders provided their version of what it would mean as they asked the question. The full text of the survey question can be viewed on the NFIB website by clicking the link below:
Owens and his organization contend, “Coupled with the state’s prohibitive no-fault auto insurance rates, the gas tax increase would create a serious economic disadvantage for Michigan small business owners that depend on their fleet vehicle operations,” and adds, “It is worth noting that our members did not support the 2015 Ballot Proposal 1 road funding plan that attempted to raise a similar amount of revenue.”
The 2015 ballot proposal was soundly defeated in a statewide vote.
In conclusion today regarding the organization's survey results, Owens says, “I think the results reflect a skepticism in our membership that is shared by the general public. These proposals often claim to be for road funding but the details reveal the revenue is diverted to numerous other budget projects,” and ends with, “Part of the $2.5-billion raised from the Governor’s tax increase would be returned to the general fund to replace money already committed to roads in 2020 and 2021, once returned it could be used for other purposes.”