Sunday, June 28, 2015

Midwestern States Struggle Over Highway Appropriations

            Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Michigan legislators are all faced with voters who want first class roads, but don’t want to pay for building or maintaining them. Illinois’ Department of Transportation projects that current revenue sources will provide less than 20% of projected highway funding needs for the next fiscal year. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker opposes bonds to fund that state’s road and bridge budget, but also he opposes increasing motor fuel taxes or vehicle registration fees to bolster revenue for surface transportation needs. Last August Missouri voters soundly defeated a proposed $0.0034 retail sales tax  for roads and bridges, and this spring the Missouri legislature killed a 2 cents per gallon motor fuel tax hike. As a result Missouri lacks the cash to meet federal highway grant matching requirements, and MDOT says its entire budget will be consumed by maintenance requirements.

Michigan’s Proposal 15-1 would have increased that state’s retail sales tax to fund education and surface transportation programs, but it went down to voter defeat by a margin of 4 to 1 against. Republicans in the Michigan House responded with a bill to raise diesel fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, and end the state’s low income earned income tax credit, but the Michigan Senate seems poised to kill that measure.

            Even if these hard hit states could come up with the cash required to meet federal grant matching requirements, there I no certainty that federal funds will continue to be available at current levels over the long term. Midwestern drivers will be steering around potholes and keeping an extra spare tire in the trunk for years to come, it seems.
blog comments powered by Disqus