July 29, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Schauer rolls out jobs agenda, opposes raising fuel tax to fix roads

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer (Clarence Tabb Jr / The Detroit News)

Lansing— Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer said Tuesday he opposes any increase in the state’s fuel taxes to fund road increases, drawing a contrast with Gov. Rick Snyder’s three-year-long push for raising the tax on gas and diesel.

But in rolling out an economic, tax and governing agenda Tuesday, the former congressman from Battle Creek was short on details of how exactly he would pay for the extra $1 billion-plus a year in money that transportation experts say are needed to fix the state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.

Schauer said he favors getting “our fair share” in federal gas tax revenues and higher fees for heavy commercial trucks. He also suggested corporations that benefited from Snyder’s tax policies should share in the pain of raising more state money.

“This Republican-controlled Legislature, they have refused to require heavy trucks that beat up our roads and businesses that got a $1.8 billion tax giveaway to pay their fair share,” Schauer said.

Snyder couldn’t persuade a 26-12 Senate Republican majority to pass a gas tax increase to address a $1.2 billion annual shortfall in road funding before the Legislature adjourned for the summer in June.

“I don’t support raising the gas tax,” said Schauer, noting gas prices inched near the $4-per-gallon mark earlier this summer. “... What our current governor and this Legislature proposed doing is continuing to raise taxes on retirees, working people, the middle class, low-wage earners — folks whose taxes he’s already raised.”

The Senate’s GOP leaders failed to coax nine of their members or any of the 12 Senate Democrats to approve a modest plan to raise one-third of that amount through fund shifts and limited fee increases.

“The key to this is changing the leadership and approach in Lansing,” Schauer said at a campaign event at a plumbers and pipefitters training facility in northwest Lansing.

The 10-point “jobs plan” Schauer unveiled Tuesday contains a smorgasbord of proposals, ranging from ending tax incentives for companies that outsource jobs to banning lobbyist gifts to state government officials and getting “tough on polluters.”

Schauer also proposed mandating power companies get 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2035. Michigan has a goal of getting 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.

In 2012, voters rejected a proposal to increase the renewable energy mandate to 25 percent by 2025.

“We’ve got the capacity to do it, we’ve got the wind to do it,” Schauer told reporters. “The cost of renewables has come down dramatically. It’s much cheaper than a new coal (power) plant.”

Darren Littell, spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, said Schauer’s plans are short on specifics.

“It’s a lot of the same rhetoric we’ve been hearing with a lot of the same details missing,” Littell said. “Has he talked about how he would pay for any of this?”

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