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Posted on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 10 a.m.

Rick Olson hopeful Michigan Legislature will address $1.4B road funding gap in 2012

By Ryan J. Stanton

State Rep. Rick Olson, author of a recent bipartisan House workgroup report on Michigan's road crisis, has released a follow-up analysis to his report from September.

Olson maintains an increase in road funding of at least $1.4 billion per year — the amount recommended in the earlier report — is the only fiscally responsible action to take.

He concludes the state's roads and bridges need the total amount immediately, as phasing it in through $200 million increments would result in further deterioration of roads.


Rick Olson

"As a fiscally responsible lawmaker who wishes to decrease spending, not increase it, it pains me to say this, but unfortunately we need to find more revenue to spend on our roads at this point," Olson, R-York Township, said in a statement.

"As lawmakers, we need to find money in the budget for fixing our transportation system," he added.

Olson states in his report that eliminating the state's per-gallon fuel tax and implementing a fuel sales tax at the wholesale level — while also increasing vehicle registration fees on a percentage basis — would provide $500 million in revenue.

A select group of smaller changes, including cost savings, would complete filling the $1.4 billion gap.

Following a recent special message on road funding by Gov. Rick Snyder, Olson is optimistic the report will gain traction with the Legislature in 2012.

"The Legislature accomplished a monumental amount of work in 2011," Olson said. "We need to be just as ambitious in the New Year, and my goal is to work with my colleagues to ensure road funding is at the top of our list."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

So they are say that we aren't paying enough tax on gas already. If the federal and state gas tax was removed we would be paying less than half of what we are paying now. He wants to produce a sales tax, instead of gas tax. I'm not getting the whole picture here. Can someone please tell it like their telling a child, because I get lost easily when it come to taxes, and rip of artist.

Rick Olson

Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

Send me an e-mail message at and I can send you a copy of the entire analysis, so you can consider the facts, rather than the um. um. stuff many above are saying. The initial report can be accessed at the bottom of my official site: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>.

Martin Friedburg

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 7:51 p.m.

I applaud any legislator's focus on improving MI's roads and bridges, but must caution about how that's financed. Gov. Snyder's proposal, mirrored by Rep. Olson's, is to eliminate the current gas and diesel tax at the retail level, to be replaced by a tax at the wholesale level. The net result for consumers will be artificially increased gas prices that go beyond the tax itself. This is because when wholesalers are charged with the tax, this becomes a production &quot;cost&quot; on which they will (justifiably) earn a margin of profit through the wholesale price of gas. When the gas retailer pays that now-inflated wholesale price and applies a margin of profit, the result is a further artificial escalation of the price of gas to the consumer. The net result is that an initial &quot;revenue-netural&quot; tax at the wholesale level (Gov. Snyder's press release) ends up almost doubled at the consumer level. A tax of $.19 paid by the wholesaler becomes a net increase of about $.34 to the consumer, using estimated wholesale and retail profit margins. The price of a gallon of gas has been artificially inflated by $.15 to the consumer. Gas retail priced at $3.19 under the current system ends up at $3.34 a gallon simply because of how the tax was applied. To add insult to injury, the consumer pays 6% sales tax on that extra $.15 per gallon. To minimize impact on the consumer, yet still raise the needed $ to repair roads and bridges, it's important to leave the tax at the consumer level, as part of the gallon price at the pump. We can raise that tax to whatever we all agree is needed to accomplish the job, without artificially raising the price of gasoline itself. Let's just be open and honest about the process and not hide a substantial tax increase by making it unseen at the wholesale level. Michiganders have a history of doing the right thing. We all want good roads. Be open with us and we'll be there to support you.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

Thank you for making sense of that.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

Mr Olson needs to wipe that smirk off of his face.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

Isn't the amount of money needed for our roads close to the amount of the tax cuts Snyder and Republicans including Mr Olson gave to businesses?

Susie Q

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

I find it ironic that Olson is interested in fixing the roads now. Any tax increases or fee changes that Granhom proposed were roundly criticized and defeated by the &quot;fiscally responsible&quot; Olsons (Republicans) of the legislature. Increased registration fees will cause MORE financial hardship to those least able to absorb it. They have seen food stamps eliminated, job training programs and unemployment slashed, pensioners required to pay higher taxes; but no shared sacrifice among the wealthiest citizens and/or businesses. Olson would NOT want to insert language requiring verification of jobs created because he knows there will not be a rush of new cuts DO NOT CREATE JOBS .......demand for products/services creates jobs. Tricle down did not work in the 1980's and will not work now. There has been an incredible &quot;re-distribution of wealth&quot; in the last 30-40 years and it has all gone to the top. No trickle down.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

What is Olson really saying? We republicans are once again going to shake the middle class tree for more money.


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

Republicans wouldn't stand a chance if Democrats cut their umbilical cord to union influence. Then cut the cord to lobbyists on both sides of the fence.

E. Crowe

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Most road improvement projects are billed well beyond what they would cost in private industry. They also take way too long for the scope. This is why we are in the budget trouble- For example, why the big production on 23N, just south of Brighton... To fix a bridge over a slow moving little river? Answer: Federal Highway dollars... And no one is watching the till, because they are spending our money.


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 2:34 a.m.

Hut hut who says what a prevailing wage should be? And why do you union guys always fall back on anything other than union labor is inferior. I think union labor is inferior because they lack accountability have undue influence and resources. Look how they brought down the auto industry and demanded bonuses from GM when they still owe taxpayers 26 Billion dollars. But hey dude as long as they get your union share of the purse, why seat the details?

hut hut

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

I guess that cutting the the prevailing wages of working people is the answer to our economic woes. Let that bridge crumble if you think it costs too much to fix or puts us further into debt. That will fix the problem.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

You are requird to pay prevailing wages so you get less miles of road for your tax dollars. very inefficient system that patronizes the unions for votes.............

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 1:55 p.m.

These projects are competitively bid at a fixed price, and union labor is the largest portion of the cost. The state should maximize the federal money coming in just like West Virginia.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 12:07 p.m.

That was September, 2011....


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

News Flash to Olson's report came out in SEPTEMBER OF 2010; he's just out playing it over again hoping for some free publicity for his 'no, really I've actually done something for what you've paid me for' campaign. From his website: 'On Sept. 19, Rep. Olson, in conjunction with Rep. Roy Schmidt, D-Grand Rapids, released the following report: &quot;Michigan's Roads Crisis: What will it cost to maintain our roads and bridges?&quot; Of course, the report was largely written by state workers - you know those lazy, overpaid people he voted against endlessly. And he's going to raise our taxes to do all this road repair, right? Oh, sorry - 'fees, etc.'

Lac Court Orilles

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

Hey middle class, better watch out for your wallet. Arrogant Olson is after it again! This guy is sure to force the middle income people of this state to pay for every upgrade while the wealthy get another tax break. Retiree's got a 100% tax increase while the wealthy got a tax break (gift) without any accountability to create jobs. Townie's got Olson figured out, &quot;Just a rubber stamp Republican who always votes the party line and doesn't think.&quot;


Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 3:23 a.m.

No, but the rich can sure afford to pay their fair share. Tax rates on the wealthy are at thirty year lows. Retirees typically are among the poorest in our nation, on average.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

I guess retirees don't drive on the roads in Michigan, only the rich do?


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 4:17 a.m.

Last gas tax increase didn't get added to diesel fuel for over the road semi's...

John Q

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 3:12 a.m.

What states are those?


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

@snapshot... google... 5 minutes.... You suspect an audit of labor costs would somehow impact roads? How about this simple, well known fact: The state allows trucks up to 164,000 pounds, more than double than other states, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Michigan POLITICIANS make the rules allowing more abuse of our roads. But I'm with you... let's do an audit. Audit why it is that politicians allow more abuse of our roads? Why not use the same restrictions as other states? Not sure what, as you state, &quot;Lets stop the runaway money grab of public employees ...&quot; has to do with our roads when you look at the real facts.


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

North and South Dakota, Montana, Maine etc. etc. pick one from a map and prove me wrong JQ. I'm listening. You have something against an audit for quality control?


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

Lets stop the runaway money grab of public employees and start concentrating on auditing material quality, labor costs, standards and practices of the contractors and public employees responsible for repairing the roads. Other states with truck traffic and severe winters have better roads at less cost. Why?


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

Yep, I would think it's illegal also. But they do it, and openly admit it. Just like the city takes deductions from our check and won't tell us how it's being calculated or show us they come up with the costs. We have to fight a legal battle to find out why they're taking money out of our check. How would that fly in the private sector?


Thu, Jan 5, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

Born, who's in &quot;control&quot; but public employees and officials? Get a clue and two sets of books would demand someone go to jail.....that's what happens in private industry. Why do public officials get to keep &quot;two sets of books&quot;? Isn't that fraud? It is in my book and if it's true why aren't they being prosecuted? I'm listening on both points.


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 7:24 a.m.

My inside info that you like to attempt to insult me with is from a city council meeting whereas Heiftje made the statement asking for confirmation from Crawford. I thought you would be the type of person up on that type of thing from all the commentary you have.


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 6:53 a.m.

Born, so Michigan only builds the roads to handle half the weight. I see. I guess it's OK then for no one to ask why? So what do you think would solve the problem? Maybe better materials, better base, more concrete? Tell me.


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 6:36 a.m.

Two sets of books...prove always seem to have this &quot;inside&quot; information that no one else would have and you release it smugly but we &quot;normal&quot; people can't verify it. Link me to that statement from Crawford, the article, or that &quot;internal&quot; memo I'm sure you received. Your mention of transparency is self serving as are all your posts which decry and criticize the city as having a conspiracy against the fire department. Your posts are every bit as biased in your beliefs as mine are, but you hide behind this shield of inside information like &quot;the city keeps two sets of books, one for the state and one they operate from&quot; Give me a break or another &quot;factoid&quot;?


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 2:36 a.m.

Well, it could be from your constant flow of derogatory comments aimed at anyone in a union. All one needs to do is click on your name and read the first few lines from a majority of your comments to witness that. "You on the other hand may want to seek more knowledge based arguments as opposed to emotional bull crap and scare tactics." Firstly, I've never attempted to 'scare' anyone. That's your interpretation based on a predefined attitude you have. Secondly, as far as 'knowledge based' here's a little factoid for you: The FD budget is up for anyone to review. No one at the FD would even attempt to hide it. We want people to see the truth. The city on the other hand… we have to fight with them through legal means in order to get them to provide their financial statements. Keep in mind that the city has admitted to keeping 2 sets of books. The one that gets reported to the State, and the one they actually operate off of. This is from Tom Crawford. I don't expect you to ever agree with me, I know that won't happen. All I ask, is that you be open minded enough to accept information that may go against what you believed to be true for so long. It takes nothing more than 10 minutes of your time and Google to verify my statements if you still choose not to believe me.


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 2:23 a.m.

Why is it that you use the word &quot;hate&quot; so irresponsibly when some disagrees with you in an intellectual and credible manner? Why would you have a problem with an audit as described if you're so concerned with citizen safety when advocating on your own behalf? I don't have to &quot;hate&quot; anything or anyone when practicing common sense and fair practices. You on the other hand may want to seek more knowledge based arguments as opposed to emotional bull crap and scare tactics.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

Well, they have different weight restrictions and road specs than Michigan. Any trucker will tell you that. I have to ask... we all get that you hate all unions. That's clear from clicking on your name and reading your rants. Is your issue with just unions in general, or people? You seem to hate all road workers, police, teachers, firefighters, and anyone else that's in a union. Just curious if it's a union thing, or a people thing?

John Q

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 2:31 a.m.

Don't worry. The Lansing Republicans have shown that they have no interest in raising revenues except when it pays for tax breaks for the wealthy.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

Let's remember who destroys the roads. It is the extra large trucks allowed on Michigan roads. They have a very low tax based on the destruction to the roads they cause. It would be in everybody's interest to ban the double trailers and to increase taxes on cargo companies.

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

Fuel taxes are the best method to recover road repair, since larger trucks use more fuel.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

Must be the Slickster hasn't yet figured out how to stick the road repairs to the poor and middle class yet. Ask Ford what they will be doing with their tax saving next year, It's building a plant in China. Must be the Republicans that run our state own Ford stock and want to maximize their investment by giving Ford free money. &quot;Them that's got is them that gets&quot;. I know I will be paying more in taxes next year.

Mr. Ed

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 12:23 a.m.

If they keep taxing us we won't need roads for our cars. We won't be able to purchase a car perhaps a bicycle.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

Good thing we have plenty of bike paths. That is money well spent instead of on roads........\


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 12:06 a.m.

'As a fiscally responsible lawmaker who wishes to reduce spending,..&quot; Ha. I asked him repeatedly to insert some language in the $1.8 billion business welfare giveaway that would allow some responsible measurement of the 'jobs created' and he refused saying that would be impossible as the jobs were 'uncountable'. In other words, we don't want facts to get in the way of the dispelling the myth that money given to the wealthy and corporations doesn't create jobs. Just a rubber stamp Republican who always votes the party line and doesn't think. His last term as far as I am concerned.

David Briegel

Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

Ok Rick, so why is there a shortfall? Did we go too far with the tax cuts for the wealthy? Why did your party ignore thes &quot;shortfall&quot; in the past? And who will you tax to make up for the created shortfall? I know you would never go to that evil big gubbermint in Wash DC. Will the seniors, low income and middle income wage earners have to &quot;pay the piper&quot; for your tax cuts for the wealthy? Please, get some answers from our &quot;leader&quot;!

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Granholm didn't fix them, either. If this goes through, most of the money will go to hard-working union members, rather than those &quot;union professional&quot; cats we hear complaining so much.