Michigan Voters Overwhelmingly Rejected a Proposed Tax Hike Even After Supporters Flooded the State With Millions

May 6, 2015

On Tuesday voters defeated Prop. 1, a $2.1 billion gas and sales tax hike aimed at building roads and bridges, by a 60-point margin. The 80-20 vote came in spite of the fact that the hike’s supporters spent more than $9 million to pass the measure, compared with several hundred thousand dollars from supporters.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, called the vote a huge victory and compared the efforts of Gov. Rick Snyder (R.) and other supporters to a hostage situation.

"The tax and spenders and their advocates in the media thought they had finally found the secret sauce: hold highway spending hostage to higher taxes," Norquist said in a statement." "The verdict is now in from Michigan. A big No."

Snyder admitted defeat on Tuesday night, but still insists that "doing nothing isn’t an option" for state infrastructure.

"We appreciate that this bipartisan plan was supported by so many groups – business leaders and unions, public safety officials and local governments, teachers, and the list goes on," Snyder said in a statement published by Click on Detroit. "While voters didn’t support this particular proposal, we know they want action taken to maintain and improve our roads and bridges."

The $2.1 billion tax hike was not strictly about fixing potholes and upgrading roads and bridges. Only 61 percent of that total would go into roads, according to an analysis by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

"Of the additional $700 million in new tax revenue, $300 million would go to public schools, $100 million to local government revenue sharing, and pledges for future spending on local bus and transit agencies," the free market think tank said in a report.

Snyder told reporters on a Wednesday conference call that he would turn to the GOP-controlled legislature to find a new way to allocate resources to transportation issues.