September 25, 2010 at 1:00 am

Snyder: No gas tax for roads

Cut waste to fix streets, infrastructure says gov nominee

"My role as governor is not to interfere in your business, it's to be your best partner," Snyder tells the Michigan Municipal League. (Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News)

Dearborn -- Republican Rick Snyder said more spending is needed to improve Michigan's roads and infrastructure but he would not endorse a gas tax increase in a speech to municipal leaders Friday.

Snyder, who is running for governor, said Michigan needs to do more than match federal funding to fix the state's broken roads.

But "before anyone talks about tax increases, we need to talk about value for money; we need to be more efficient," Snyder told the annual convention of the Michigan Municipal League at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn.

Michigan's road tax is 19 cents a gallon. The league supports a 4 cent a gallon tax increase now and another 4 cent increase in 2013 to raise an extra $1 billion for road and infrastructure improvements, said Summer Minnick, the league director of state affairs.

Minnick said after the meeting that even if all efficiencies were realized, a gas tax increase is needed to fix broken roads. "It was good he didn't say no," Minnick said of Snyder's response to the gas tax question.

But on his way out of the meeting, Snyder's comments to reporters were more emphatic.

"I don't have a tax increase on my agenda in any fashion," Snyder said.

Snyder's speech came one day after the Democratic candidate for governor, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, addressed the same group and promised no unfunded mandates and no cuts to revenue sharing. Bernero also opposes a gas tax increase and instead would push for more federal road funding, spokesman Cullen Schwarz said.

Snyder said he wants to improve cities and said Michigan will never be a great state until Detroit again is a great city.

"My role as governor is not to interfere in your business, it's to be your best partner," he said.

Earlier Friday, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, told the group "being the governor is not an entry-level position."

It was a knock at the resume of Snyder, a millionaire Ann Arbor businessman and CEO who has never run for public office.

"We understand, and you will not have to explain it to us," Lawrence said of herself and Bernero.

Snyder later dismissed Lawrence's knock against him as "political posturing."

"I've run large organizations," he said. "I've run small organizations. I have the executive level experience for decades."

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