Those familiar words, “Should this proposal be adopted?” will come before Michiganians next on May 5.

Proposal 15-1 would amend the State Constitution and dedicate new revenue to fix decaying roads and bridges. The long-term funding plan would also trigger bills into law that benefit K-12 schools, transit and rail projects, local governments, and restore the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Funding for the nearly $2 billion package would come from increasing the general sales-and-use tax from 6 to 7 percent, removing sales tax from gasoline/diesel fuel sales, and increasing the tax on those fuels. A House Fiscal Agency analysis shows the plan raises about $1.9 billion in taxes, with about $1.3 billion of that going towards fixing roads and other infrastructure.

A recent Detroit Free Press article reported that this would raise pump prices about 8 to 9 cents per gallon, based on current low prices.

The proposal would also :

  • Increase the portion of the use tax dedicated to the School Aid Fund (SAF).
  • Expand SAF use to community colleges and career/technical education, but prohibit use for 4-year colleges/universities.
  • Give effect to several laws, including those that:
  • Adjust the gasoline/diesel fuel tax annually for inflation, increase vehicle registration fees, and earmark revenue for roads and other transportation purposes.
  • Expand competitive bidding and warranties for road projects.
  • Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Critics say the proposal collects too much money for items other than roads. Proponents say the plan was a product of compromise that gets the job done.

Opponents are groups such as the Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan, who don’t want any tax increases at all and say road fixes should come from existing funds, or that voters should instead be asked to hike the sales tax in a plan targeted solely at roads.

Supporters are groups such as Safe Roads Yes, which notes that every penny will be Constitutionally guaranteed to be used only for its designated purpose. For example, state taxes paid at the pump are guaranteed for transportation, and those tagged for the SAF will fund education. Road builders would have to provide warranties on what they build and pay for the repairs if they aren’t built right.

Restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit will help mitigate the effects of higher sales and fuel taxes, proponents say, and bumping up the sales tax more than replaces the money schools and local governments would lose as a result of a sales tax no longer being charged on fuel.

Some also say one of the plan’s best features is that taking the sales tax off of fuel sales will undo a situation the Free Press has reported on in which Michigan charges some of the highest taxes on fuel in the nation, but has among the lowest per-lane-mile spending on roads. Taking the sales tax off fuel allows a sharp hike in the fuel tax — which is spent on roads — without significantly increasing the pump price.

The plan was forged as a last-minute compromise in December between Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders from both parties. With leaders in both chambers supporting Proposal 1, there is no ready alternative that would pass, so the longer roads deteriorate, the more they will cost to fix.

Another good Free Press article, Roads 101: What you need to know about Proposal 1 , offers more breakdown on this tough subject.

Visit to see the official ballot language.