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Republican lawmakers looking at “any option” to pay for roads instead of fuel tax

Cracked and broken roads
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Governor Snyder said that every dollar invested in Michigan roads and bridges saves six dollars in the future.

Republican lawmakers are trying to find ways to raise more money for the roads. But they want to avoid Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 45-cent fuel tax increase.

A new idea to raise money to fix the state’s roads involves selling state assets to pay for the infrastructure.

A spending bill (HB 4246) in the state House includes a requirement that the Department of Transportation put together a proposal for the potential sale of multiple assets. The assets include a railroad line, eight welcome centers, the Blue Water Bridge and four airports.

Representative Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) is chair of the House committee in charge of the state budget. He says this is just one option to explore.

“I think it’s appropriate for us to find out, is there interest? What is the value of our assets? And we can’t make decisions going forward if we don’t know those things,” he says.

Representative Matt Maddock (R-Milford) is chair of the House Transportation subcommittee.

“I think we have an obligation to avoid a gas tax increase and I’m willing to look at any option that we have, including selling, perhaps selling a bridge,” says Maddock.

The proposed budget portion passed out of the subcommittee on Thursday.

Opponents say GOP lawmakers don’t even know if it’s possible to sell a bridge that the state owns with Canada, or how much money some of these assets are making for the state.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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