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EDITORIAL: Too taxing to fuel up

Plan to fund better roads is irresponsible by state

Each time you make a trip to the gas station to fill up your tank this year, you will be paying 7 cents more for each gallon of gas, thanks to Michigan legislators.

Lawmakers voted to raise the state’s gas tax from 19 to 26.3 cents a gallon in 2016 and the state began implementation of the new tax Jan. 1.

The higher tax at the pump now puts Michigan’s gas tax at the fifth highest in the nation. It’s been in the works since Gov. Rick Snyder signed a series of bills in 2015 as part of a $1.2 billion road funding package.

Fees to register cars, vans, light trucks and commercial trucks also increased 20 percent as a part of the road funding package.

Our roadways are in terrible shape thanks to Michigan winters, causing need for near constant repair. However, the increased monetary burden people will experience fueling up won’t be put toward bettering roads for years to come, The Detroit News reported. Michigan won’t be spending the full additional $1.2 billion annually on roads and bridges until 2021.

This is the first increase in the state gas tax in 20 years — about the entire lifespan of college age students. College students fall into a demographic affected negatively by the gas tax. For students who have to fill up their tank once or twice a week, they will shell out an average of an extra $55 to $100 at the pump.

More and more members of the Millennial generation have resorted to living with parents and commuting to college instead of living on campus. Traveling extra miles during a long commute is how many cut corners and make getting an education possible. For some commuter students, an added $100 per year is an unneccessary burden.

For almost eight years this administration has cut taxes for businesses while eliminating tax benefits for families and individuals in the name of job creation. In return, Michiganders have seen an increase in low wage service jobs. Why should we believe that moving more of the burden for road maintenance to drivers will provide a long-term fix for road repairs?

Raising a regressive tax to an unprecedented level should never be part of the solution. Charging taxes is a necessary inconvenience to fund the government so it can provide public services, but there are better methods to fund patching potholes than raising a tax every citizen must pay at the same level, regardless of their income.

Raising the gas tax puts financial strain on people with lower incomes, because to better yourself in society means getting employment or an education. To be successful in both situations, a car is almost always necessary.

By the time any progress to roads will be made by the road funding package, the heavy burden of the gas tax will literally already have taken its toll on Michigan residents.

We must demand better plans to fix infrastructure on the state level so more plans like the road funding package aren’t pushed through legislation.