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Editor’s Note: Can candy pave our roads?

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Can cavity-causing candy and soft drinks fill the cavities in Michigan’s roads?

Two professors from Central Michigan University think so.

They’ve offered a proposal to help raise $1.2 billion for road repairs largely by applying the state’s 6 percent sales tax to candy, soda and vitamins.

Over-the-counter sales of soda and candy are currently exempt from the sales tax as food items. Vitamins are also not taxed.

Accounting professors Philip L. Kintzele and Edward C. Woelfert Jr. say applying the sales tax on those items would raise an additional $500 million a year, if current sales levels continue. Most people, they point out, likely think they’re already paying sales taxes on those purchases.

Their plan also calls for finding $500 million from efficiencies and cuts in the current budget — not a far reach, considering the Legislature came up with an additional $400 million for roads in the new budget.

And they’d capture $200 million from increased registration fees largely on hybrids and electric vehicles, which use the roads but don’t pay much in fuel taxes.

This seems like a good middle-ground position. The sugar tax is one that consumers can avoid if they choose, but won’t inflict much pain if they don’t.

Lawmakers should put this idea on the table.