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Poll: 82% of people want all MI motor fuel taxes to go to roads; that could short-fund schools

 Road construction at the intersection of I-94 and US 127 in Jackson.
Lester Graham
Michigan Public
Road construction at the intersection of I-94 and US 127 in Jackson.

Michigan road and bridge builders want all of the state's taxes on fuel to go to roads. A new poll shows the vast majority of Michigan's citizens want that too.

“We are one of only five states that puts sales tax on our motor fuel and our 6% sales tax on our motor fuel generates about $1.1 billion annually. Only $50 million of that goes into our roads and bridges,” said Lance Binoniemi, Vice President with Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA).

The group commissioned a poll by EPIC MRA which found on average that 82 percent of people want all fuel taxes to be spent on roads. Regardless of political leanings, income, or geographic location in the state, a majority of people favored the sales tax on fuel be used for roads.

The bulk of the 6% sales tax on motor fuel goes to the School Aid Fund.

“We certainly anticipate that there will be a debate and that will be up to the lawmakers where they believe that their funding should go to,” Binoniemi said.

The Executive Director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, Don Wotruba, said the change is one that’s been sought for a long time. He said it’s no surprise that most people want all taxes on motor fuel to go to roads. He said that’s fine as long as the legislature replaces the money lost to schools.

Another smaller portion of the sales tax on motor fuels goes to local governments. Binoniemi said they’d get far more if that more than $1 billion went into the road fund.

“Thirty nine percent of that will go to counties and 22% of that will go to local cities and townships. And so they will get a lot more than the $110 million that they’re getting (from the) 6% sales tax.”

Still, the EPIC-MRA pollsters' analysis said in the poll release, "...this legislative proposal would likely attract vigorous opposition from school interests losing school aid funding, and local government losing revenue sharing. It would likely require finding other sources of funding to replace what would be lost by those interests currently receiving funding from the 6% sales tax paid at the pump."

Copyright 2024 Michigan Public. To see more, visit Michigan Public.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.