Michigan Rep. Mike Shirkey introduced a bill recently that would partially fund a fix to the roads by placing a new tax on hybrid and electric vehicles. He bizarrely cast this as a fairness issue, because in his mind it’s wrong for some drivers to pay less in gas taxes because they buy more fuel-efficient cars.
At the time, Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Wayne Schmidt didn’t say he supported the proposal, but was apparently reading off the same talking points as Rep. Shirkey, describing the bill as “about making it equitable.” Now Rep. Schmidt has introduced his own bill instituting a tax on hybrid and electric cars.
Shirkey said last week of the new tax that “I don’t think it’s a disincentive at all.” But a special tax on a special category of cars is exactly that – government picking losers by discouraging people from buying those cars.
The Chevy Volt, Ford Focus Electric, and hybrid Ford C-Max are all built by Michigan workers in Michigan factories. If politicians are honest, they’ll call this what it is: a special tax on Michigan jobs because Mike Shirkey, a former GM engineer, doesn’t like the cars those workers build.
Reps. Shirkey and Schmidt are free to dislike cars made by union members from Wayne County. But as Lansing politicians work to find a way to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges, they must respect their mandate from voters to do so in a way that protects every Michigan worker.