Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hope There's More To It Than This

So Rick Snyder is planning to recommend a plan for dealing with Michigan's crumbling roads and bridges. That's long overdue, as anyone who drives in the state understands.

According to the Livingston Press and Argus, the plan to be unveiled in Snyder's State of the State message next week could include switching from a flat 19-cents a gallon tax on gasoline (15 cents for diesel) to a tax that is a percentage of the pump price. Theoretically, this would help road revenues keep pace with inflation, since collections would go up when the price of fuel went up or go down when the price of fuel went down.

Inflation, though, isn't the state's main problem with road revenues. For proof, look at what happened to the price of the Latson Road interchange in Livingston County. The big problem, one that will get even bigger in the future, is that people are buying less fuel. Vehicles are more fuel-efficient. Some, such as electric cars, use little gasoline or diesel at all.

That's why Snyder's plan, as laid out in the media, is disappointing. It doesn't ask drivers of alternatively-fueled vehicles to pay more towards roads. That is the real challenge for the future -- how to make sure everyone using the roads pays towards their construction and upkeep. There should be no free- or nearly free-riders.

But as Snyder showed with his signing of right-to-work-for-less legislation, he thinks free-riders are just fine.

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