MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder says the recent introduction of legislation to cut $135 million in economic development funds to improve roads is costing Michigan jobs and investment — and he has a better plan.
Diverting the economic money to transportation funding is part of a plan Republican House Speaker Kevin Cotter unveiled after voters defeated a sales tax increase to trigger additional road repairs.
Speaking to a ground of political and business leaders at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference on Thursday, the Republican governor said these House bills “send a message” to business that Michigan is being inconsistent in economic development efforts and creates a “disincentive for investment.
Snyder’s administration this week backed off its assertion that the Pure Michigan tourism program would have to be cut as a result of the House plan.
Snyder said it’s his hope that policymakers can get “on the same page,” and, moving forward, he wants to focus on cohesion.
“I don’t mean that as a criticism,” the governor said. “I think we’ve made tremendous progress over the last four years about working better together. I think this conference is the reflection of that.”
Talking live with WWJ’s Roberta Jasina and Tom Jordan on the island earlier Thursday, Snyder said he believes lawmakers will come together to find a solution for road funding by the end of this year.
“I think there’s a good opportunity to use the summertime to have a lot of dialogue and discussion and hit the issue hard in the fall,” Snyder said.
“I do think we need a tax increase in some fashion,” he said. “…We’re seeing great growth in our economy and revenue growth, we’re finding resources by tightening our budget in the general fund, but to get to $1.2 billion, most likely i believe we’re gonna need some additional revenue increases.
“Again, that could be a simple gas tax, it could be registration fees, any combination of those things.”
Snyder’s preferred plan — which he said he’s been proposing for years now — is a “balanced approach” that would incorporate both of those, “in a fashion where we wouldn’t have to come back and address the issue again too quickly.”
While Snyder supports limited cuts, he said he doesn’t want to see road improvements come at the expense of cuts to important areas health care of education.
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