Editorial Alert: Voter Approval of Road Millages Should Inspire Legislators to Pass Long-term Transportation Funding
Voters across Michigan know what is important, and they proved it by overwhelming margins on August 7. Roughly 90 percent of ballot proposals asking for a road millage increase or millage continuation passed. Road expansion or continuation projects had similar success. Voters know that when it comes to their transportation system, which they rely on every day, there is no debate about the need for additional investment. In addition to “getting the public there” on a daily basis, our transportation system moves goods and services that support Michigan’s economy and thousands of jobs.
It is hoped that the strong message that voters sent on August 7, “We don’t mind paying for a good transportation system,” will embolden state legislators, who have been reluctant to approve long-term transportation for fear of voter outcry. It is estimated that Michigan’s transportation system needs an increase of $2 billion per year. The last time the Legislature did something about it was in 1997. How much longer will they wait?
The House did pass a package of efficiencies and reforms the spring, and we ask that the Senate address the bills as soon as possible this year. MDOT, local agencies, and road companies look every day for ways to do things faster, smarter and more economically and we commend the Legislature for addressing those similar concepts. But more work needs to be done.
When legislators return from summer recess, they should be inspired not only by the message voters sent August 7, but by the cost of inaction. Currently, 32 percent of Michigan’s roads are ranked in poor condition. It is estimated that by 2018 this number will jump to over 65 percent. Furthermore, historical data tells us that bringing a road from poor to good pavement condition costs six times more than it does to bring a road from fair to good condition. Legislators cannot continue to postpone taking action.
Road millages and reforms should give the Legislature significant motivation to do the right thing and approve a long-term funding package for Michigan’s transportation system. There is still time to get the job done this year.
The Michigan Transportation Team (MTT) is a partnership of businesses, associations and citizens linked with the common goal of improving Michigan’s transportation infrastructure. For more information, visit www.drivemi.org.