MACKINAC ISLAND (WWJ/AP) – How will state leaders fix Michigan’s roads? More specifically, how will they pay for them?

Speaking to WWJ Newsradio 950 at the Mackinac Policy Conference, State House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, wasn’t ready to endorse a higher sales tax as a solution.

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“As you look at roads, we’ve dedicated a significant down payment. But that’s all it is — it’s a down payment: about $350 million,” Bolger said. “We have about a $1.2 billion problem, so we’ve gotten it started, but it hasn’t solved the problem.”

“So, as you look down the road, we need to find another solution that completes that,” he said.

Bolger said he wants to put surplus revenue into roads, schools, and revenue sharing for local governments.

Also talking to WWJ at the conference Thursday, Gov. Rick Snyder said much more discussion is needed on the issue of transportation funding.

“I’m open to a lot of solutions, but I want to do it in a bipartisan fashion with the legislators,” Snyder said.

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The most-straightforward proposal – Snyder’s call to raise the gasoline tax and vehicle registration fees – wasn’t embraced when he made it part of his proposed budget in early February.

The main alternative still appears to be converting motor fuel taxation from a fixed per-gallon tax to one based on price and eliminating thes ales tax on fuel, which could be pitched to drivers as not raising their price at the pump and making sure all fuel taxes go to road upkeep. To offset a drop in funding for schools and local governments, legislators would ask voters to raise the sales tax on all other purchases from 6 percent to 7 percent.

The problem is two-thirds votes in the House and Senate are needed to put a sales tax hike on the statewide ballot, one reason Democratic support is seen as crucial. Snyder’s plan would need regular majority votes. (More on this here).

WWJ Newsradio 950′s Roberta Jasina, Tom Jordan, Vickie Thomas and Charlie Langton are on Mackinac Island covering the conference. Stay tuned for live broadcasts, Thursday and Friday.

– Complete Conference Coverage –

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