Michigan voters soundly reject Proposal 1 road tax plan

From the Detroit Free Press:

Proposal 1, likely one of the most complicated and confusing questions ever placed on a Michigan ballot, was soundly rejected Tuesday as many voters expressed anger at lawmakers and state government for failing to come up with a better solution to the sorry state of the roads.

With all counties reporting, 1.4 million Michiganders voted no on Proposal 1 while less than 351,000 voted yes, according to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office. The 80-20 rejection was the most one-sided loss ever for a proposed amendment to the state constitution of 1963, records show.

The Free Press called the election for the no side less than one hour after the polls closed, based on analysis of exit poll results and early returns.

Even before the polls closed on a rainy day across much of Michigan — a fact expected to depress voter turnout already projected to be as low as 20% — the talk had turned to what happens next.

“We need to go ahead and get these roads and infrastructure fixed immediately, given the nature and the extent of the damage that has occurred from not maintaining them,” said Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township.

But Tuesday’s vote was not expected to make it easier to find a solution to the infrastructure problem Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled Legislature have grappled with for several years. Tuesday’s result sets up a fight between tea party conservatives who want to address the roads issue without raising taxes and others in the Legislature who say the public is willing to pay more to fix the roads — just not the way they were asked to do this time.

Proposal 1 would have hiked the state sales tax to 7% from 6%, taken the sales tax off fuel sales, and hiked fuel taxes — raising close to $1.3 billion extra for roads.

When fully implemented, the plan would have also generated about $200 million a year more for schools; $116 million for transit and rail; sent $111 million more to local governments; and given a $260-million tax break to low- and moderate-income families through restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The complex nature of the proposal resulted from the need to replace school and local government revenues lost as a result of removing the sales tax from fuel sales to make room for higher fuel taxes, which unlike sales taxes, support roads and transportation. Features such as the restoration of the EITC were concessions to Democrats, whose votes Republican Snyder needed to get the plan through the Legislature.

The special election cost Michigan taxpayers about $10 million.

Read more: http://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2015/05/05/angry-voters-reject-proposal-michigan-roads-await-viable-fix/26950451/