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MI lawmakers consider extra driving fees


State lawmakers in Michigan are brainstorming ways to help close the state's $3.9 billion road funding gap. One idea is the Road Usage Pilot Program, to add tolls and mileage fees for using some of the most heavily traveled highways in the state.

The pilot study is still in early stages of discussion, but it could mean a 6-cents-per-mile fee for drivers, which could raise $1 billion to fix Michigan's decaying roads.

House Transportation Budget chair Rep. Ranjeev Puri, D-Canton, said road funding comes from a variety of sources, but it isn't enough.

"When we all purchase a vehicle, we go pay a registration fee. So, those registration fees kind of help fund our roads. There's also some money from the sales tax that goes to roads, and there's also money from the gas tax," he said. "We've just never come up with a formula that fundamentally meets the needs of the state."

Puri noted the rise in electric vehicle use equals fewer people buying gas, which means less gas-tax revenue.

Puri said some roads could even be removed because they're not needed anymore because of population changes and different modes of transportation people are using now. He said federal dollars are available to help the state secure funding for these pilot studies - but the state needs to contribute to the pot.

"If the feds are willing to help pay for that study here in Michigan, the state needs to put up some portion of that, to be able to draw down those dollars," he said. "And so, as the state of Michigan, we don't want to leave money on the table."

Puri said the next step in the process is to finalize the state budget for the next fiscal year, which will happen this summer. Based on those results, they'll wait for the feds to open up applications for the road-funding dollars.

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