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Detroit Regional Chamber Supports May 5 Ballot Proposal to Fix Roads

From Crain’s Detroit Business

January 14, 2015

The Detroit Regional Chamber on Wednesday threw its support behind a May 5 statewide ballot initiative designed to fix Michigan roads.

The ballot proposal calls for a 1 percent increase in the state sales tax.

“Michigan is a great place to do business, but the condition of our roads is hurting our state and will ultimately cost us employers and jobs,” said chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah.

“There is a cost to maintaining our roads, and the longer we wait the higher that cost is going to be. Voting yes on the ballot initiative May 5 will put people to work fixing our transportation infrastructure and sooner realize the rewards of growing Michigan’s economy.”

Fixing Michigan’s roads has been a top priority for the chamber, which last fall supported a Michigan Senate plan to increase per-gallon fuel taxes to fund roads. This plan eventually met resistance in the state House; the ballot proposal was approved by the House and Senate at the end of the lame duck session in December.

The ballot initiative will propose increasing the 6 percent state sales tax to 7 percent, dropping the sales tax on fuel. Transportation funding would rise by $1.3 billion a year, giving a big boost to the $2 billion now collected through fuel taxes and license plate fees.

Baruah had said last fall that the chamber preferred the per-gallon fuel tax increase because it “more closely tied the cost of fixing the roads to the users of the roads —and prevented an increase in the sales tax and the cost of a ballot initiative.”

But in a statement Wednesday, Baruah said the chamber “cannot let a failure in legislative leadership undermine Michigan’s economy and future.”

“Functioning and safe roads are not luxury items —they are a prerequisite for every business, industry and community in the state,” Baruah stated. “Michigan’s ability to compete and create jobs in the global economy requires quality roads.”