State Rep. addresses governor’s gas tax proposal during Lincoln Day Dinner: ‘No.’

May 1, 2019

State Rep. addresses governor’s gas tax proposal during Lincoln Day Dinner: ‘No.’ 

Rep. Shane Hernandez (R, Port Huron)

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

HART — The Oceana County Republican Committee held its annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Monday, April 29 at the Hart VFW Post. The event’s keynote speaker was Rep. Shane Hernandez (R, Port Huron), who represents Michigan’s 83rd District. Hernandez is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Hernandez talked about recent legislation that has been passed by the House of Representatives, the repeal of prevailing wage and passing of Medicaid work requirements. 

“I personally have a master’s degree in architecture and 12 years experience in the design and construction of commercial buildings. I can tell you, not only did we scrap an anti free market policy, we made a change that will most definitely save taxpayer dollars on construction projects,” Hernandez said. “As for Medicaid work requirements, it is about time able bodied adults be expected to work for their benefits. Compassion is not allowing someone to receive government assistance the rest of their lives. True compassion is helping someone when they are down, but also encouraging them to get back on their feet and get to work.”

He said during the first four months of the recent term, the House addressed criminal asset forfeiture and “will hopefully move on to reforming No fault auto insurance in the near future.:

Hernandez quickly transitioned into the topic of Governor Whitmer’s 45-cent per gallon fuel tax increase proposal. 

“I can give a real simple, quick answer to the Governor’s proposal. No,” he said. “We will not accept a 45 cent tax increase that makes no policy changes, uses $600 million of existing road funding to fund other priorities of hers in the budget, and the only main structural change to road funding it does make is a formula that redirects a majority of the new money to urban areas.

“If we are going to solve our road problem in Michigan, and most importantly, come to a compromise with the Governor that does not include any tax increase, there are several things we must do.

“We must find efficiencies in the existing transportation budget as well as in the entire state budget,” Hernandez said. “In the past two years, with the help of Rep. (Scott) VanSingel (R, Grant) on the Transportation committee, we were able to identify and eliminate 100 unfilled employee positions in MDOT and sell a state owned airplane. Make no mistake, there are more efficiencies to be found, and before we expect any person here tonight to figure out how to work a new gas tax into their already tight budget, we must make all of State government work with less. We can’t expect you to make cuts to your home budget, but not force bureaucrats to find cuts in their budgets. 

“We must present reforms to the way the department of transportation operates now. I talk to groups regularly about the gas tax proposal and I have quit asking people to raise their hands if they support the gas tax because I rarely find anyone who does. Instead, I like to ask for a show of hands of who thinks $1.9 billion more of exactly the same thing we are doing now, which is essentially what the Governor has proposed, will actually fix the roads.

“When I was first elected, I attended an event where former Sen. Joe Hune was also attending. He and I were both asked about an increase to tobacco taxes. I said no, as I would to any tax, but Senator Hune’s response was one I will never forget. He said government won’t work for you until you starve it. Think about that statement. How do we ever expect changes if we just hand them more money? We can not get MDOT to change materials, methods, contracts, etc if we give them more money and then ask for suggestions. We need to discuss policy changes and use new funding to leverage those changes. We need to let them know we will not accept more of the same. The Governor’s plan is not a plan, it is just more money for the same results.

“We must earn the trust of the people of Michigan. This can’t be done by asking you for more. This will be done by presenting a plan with real policy solutions and a funding plan that invests in our roads with existing funding. This includes proposals that assure every dollar that is paid at the pump will go to a road, which again, the Governor’s plan does not accomplish.”

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