Legislature Breaks For Summer Recess Without A Road Funding Solution
Friday, June 13, 2014
The Michigan Legislature left for their summer recess after a long week of session, without solving Michigan’s inadequate infrastructure funding problem, leaving the current crisis to continue to loom. Several proposals were considered throughout the last few weeks, but at the end of the day, the legislature couldn’t muster up enough votes to pass any of them.
Michigan has underfunded its transportation system for decades, and our harsh winter has exposed the crumbling effects. Typically, in an election year, a revenue increase such as this never even gets attention by lawmakers. However, the public has demanded that something be done to fix our roads and bridges. Transportation funding became the single biggest issue this spring in the legislature.
Several weeks ago the House passed a 10-bill package that added an additional $450 million to the transportation budget. This “foundation” allowed for improvements to find a full-funding solution, as the House plan wasn’t even 25% of the overall annual need. In addition to more revenue, several bills that deal with warranties, competitive bidding, vehicle registration fees and some trucking fees and fines were included in the package.
As the legislation was debated in the Senate, gaining additional revenue was attempted through a wholesale gas tax, and at one point, a $1.8 - $2.0 billion solution was on the table. The proposal was a four-year phase-in of the wholesale gas tax rate, going from 7% to 15% over that period of time. Throughout the long session days, several votes were cast to pass a full comprehensive solution, but at the end of the day, each failed.
Moving forward, there are discussions of a workgroup of the four legislative leaders, as well as four additional members from the legislature, to discuss what percentage of the wholesale gas tax rate should adequately fund Michigan’s infrastructure. This state doesn’t need another workgroup to form to know that we need additional revenue, this state needs action within the legislature rather than talk.
Lawmakers eventually chose election year politics over funding our transportation system. The public, however, is not fooled, and media reports continue to point out the ineptness of the legislature to actually solve problems. MITA will make this an election issue and continue to remind the public that as politicians continue to do nothing, our infrastructure suffers, costing Michigan taxpayers even more money. You can help with that as well by reminding your friends and neighbors that the only reason we continue to underfund our roads and bridges (and they continue to get worse) is because lawmakers can’t come together and do what they were elected to do.