By Nicole Sevrey
Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite.
During my commute to and from Michigan Farm Bureau’s home office on the west side of Lansing, there are times when I’ve grumbled about the roads being riddled with potholes and then—within a matter of minutes—also complained about the never-ending orange barrels and “road closed” barricades between me and my destination.
I’ve also been guilty of opening the GasBuddy app on my phone to see if I can save a few pennies on my next fill-up by heading to Costco where, by some strange math, they’re able to undercut every other gas station in the universe.
Maybe I shouldn’t feel too guilty. It’s only human nature (right?) to want the best of both worlds: better roads without personally having to pay for them.
Perhaps that’s part of why Michigan has historically struggled with finding a successful road funding model. It can be an economic issue, for example: impeding farms and agribusinesses. But it can also be a social issue: increasing gas prices can cause financial strain for individuals/families.
Here’s the somewhat over-simplified landscape: Most estimates indicate we need an additional $2 billion in road investment. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proposing a 45-cent per gallon gas tax increase, phased in via 15-cent increments every six months (October 2019; April 2020; October 2020). Everyday drivers like me would pay an estimated $270 more annually at the pump.
The Legislature doesn’t like Gov. Whitmer’s plan, but hasn’t yet reached consensus on an alternative solution.
Farmers aren’t crazy about it either, because the proposed distribution of funding prioritizes the most heavily-trafficked roads at the expense of rural areas:
Michigan Farm Bureau’s member-developed policy remains consistent:
All that said, the longer we procrastinate, the more all those roads deteriorate and the cost of fixing them only goes higher and higher and higher…
Submit your responses to [email protected] or mail to MFB Community Group Discussion, ATTN: Michelle Joseph, 7373 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing, MI 48909. Please include the name of your group so we can give credit where it’s due!
Nicole Sevrey has been on staff at Michigan Farm Bureau for 11 years as a communication specialist in the Public Policy and Commodity Division. Coming from a non-farming family, her passion for agriculture and serving farmers is rooted in her FFA experiences and a love for horses and the equine sector.