LANSING (AP) – Republicans who control the Senate are considering a $1 billion-plus road-funding plan that would raise the state gasoline tax by 15 cents a gallon over three years and trim the income tax if Michigan’s general revenues rise above inflation in any given year.

The proposal also would redirect hundreds of millions of dollars in general funds toward road and bridge infrastructure, though specific spending cuts were not outlined. GOP senators huddled behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the plan, which the Senate could approve Wednesday if a committee passes it later Tuesday.

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Voters in May resoundingly defeated a proposed sales tax hike that would have triggered more funding for roads, schools and municipalities.

“We heard the public. They want us to look within (existing revenues). They want us to fix the road problem, and they want us to control the size of government. We’re going to try to do all of those things,” said Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.

The Republican-led House passed a $1.2 billion plan in mid-June that would bring the 15-cents-a-gallon diesel tax in line with the 19-cent gas tax and increase both with inflation in the future, as well as earmark general funds for roads and eliminate a tax credit for lower-wage earners.

The emerging Senate counterproposal would boost the gas tax by a nickel a year for three years starting in October — ultimately generating an estimated $700 million annually — and provide for future inflationary adjustments after it reaches 34 cents per gallon. Taxpayers would receive an income tax rebate or reduction each year equal to the amount that the $9.9 billion general fund grows by more than inflation. Specifics were still being ironed out.

“If it’s there, then it’s a rollback. If it’s not there, it’s not rollback,” Meekhof said.

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He said the spending cuts to help improve roads would be determined through the yearly budget-writing process.

Democrats were skeptical of the proposal. Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. of East Lansing said the GOP has shifted the tax burden from businesses to people in recent years, and the Senate plan “just makes it worse.”

“Citizens end up paying more and getting less,” he said. “We have unspecified cuts coming to the general fund. We all know where those cuts have to go. They usually come to education and health care. … This idea that we’re going to say, `We’ll make up the rest of it in cuts but we’re not going to tell you what that is until later’ should be disconcerting to people.”

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