A plan that would provide a six-month fuel tax vacation from April to September was passed by the Michigan Senate on Tuesday.
However, HB 5570 fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to take effect immediately. As a result, it won’t be implemented until next year, making it essentially symbolic.
Last week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer requested that the federal government suspend its gasoline tax in response to rising gas costs, which she attributed to sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), the majority leader in the state Senate, said he was following her lead.
“We can’t control that, but if it’s important enough to ask the feds to do it, it’s important enough to do here, and we have complete control over it.” As a result, that’s why we took that step,” Shirkey told reporters after the meeting on Tuesday.
Whitmer intimated late last week that if the bill made it past the state Senate, she might veto it. It was passed by the House of Representatives last week.
Critics argue that the bill will jeopardize state financing for road repairs.
Senator Erika Geiss (D-Detroit) stated, “By stopping initiatives needed to address our long-rated failing roads and bridges, we are still hurting the prices that residents who drive will incur.”
Democrats attempted to modify the bill five times before the Senate vote on Tuesday. Some might have linked it to other issues, such as changes to Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system. Each amendment was rejected.
Instead of suspending the fuel tax, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) suggested the state would be better off not charging sales tax on gas.
“It has no impact on services.” It is, in fact, a greater source of alleviation for families. And if we get the federal pause, which I hope we do — and which I hope both Democrats and Republicans continue to work for — we could have between 40 and 50 cents at the pump, which I think is a much better way to go without jeopardizing our road funding,” Ananich added.
He said he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to finish drafting a measure to present to the state Senate. Ananich said he’d be open to recommendations and revisions after hearing that halting sales tax collection on petrol could damage the state’s School Aid Fund.
Shirkey appeared to be on the verge of endorsing a proposal to repeal the petrol sales tax for good.
“From the beginning, it’s been a stupid tax.” And, certainly, Sen. Ananich and I have discussed it. And what he and I have discussed has inspired me. “I’m looking forward to gathering the rest of [legislative leadership] to bring this forward,” Shirkey added.
He believes a bill to repeal the sales tax on petrol collection may advance at the same pace as HB 5570, which would establish the state fuel tax holiday.
Whitmer’s position on the proposed sales tax is uncertain.