What the proposed gas tax hike means for trucking

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 45-cent gas tax increase is approved, it would make Michigan’s gas tax the highest in the country.

It would generate an additional $2 billion in revenue to help fix the state’s crumbling roads, a spokesperson for Whitmer said. According to GasBuddy.com, the average driver would pay an extra $270 per year per vehicle.

Reaction to the plan is mixed.

“No way,” one Grand Rapids driver said. “Less food on the table. It’s going to hit a lot of people hard; can’t afford it.”

“I’m really tired of these roads,” another driver, Christine Palmer, said. “If it fixes the roads, that’s great.”

Trucking companies would be among those most affected. ALTL Incorporated in Hudsonville says diesel fuel is one of its biggest expenses.

“My initial reaction was, wow, that’s a big hit for us if it goes through,” ALTL President Claren Lau told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.

The decades-old company with a 100-truck fleet hauls products from West Michigan mostly to the East Coast. About a third of its fueling is done in Michigan.

After the proposal was unveiled, ALTL did the math: Lau said it would cost his company about $25,000 more per month and $300,000 more per year in fuel expenses.  

“Yeah, that’s concerning. Of course it is,” he said.

Whitmer’s goal in proposing the tax hike is obvious: better roads and, in turn, less money spent on vehicle repairs. But For ALTL in particular, so little of the driving is actually done in Michigan. That means a proposal like this would likely hurt the company more than it would help.

Lau recognizes that it’s still only a proposal and more specifics are likely to surface in the coming months. But if it were to pass, he would consider making major changes.

“(We’re) always going to Toledo, Perrysburg, anyway. So I could just switch my primary fueling location to that location and stop fueling in Michigan altogether,” he explained. “I’m not saying that’s what I want to do or that’s what I’m going to do. Again, I need to understand the proposal and impact.”

While the proposed tax hike would Michigan’s rate to more than double some of the other Midwest states, it is worth noting that Michigan doesn’t have toll road fees, while many of those other states do

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