House Leaders Introduce Historic Bi-partisan Transportation Legislation
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Posted by: Nancy Brown
Okemos, Mich. — Today Representative Hopgood (D-Taylor) and Representative DeRoche (R-Novi) introduced critical bi-partisan legislation to increase transportation funding by $1 billion dollars to address deteriorating infrastructure across the state and transportation funding shortfalls.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, $1 billion invested in transportation creates nearly 47,500 jobs across the economy.
“Everyday our roads connect workers with jobs, businesses with markets, and families and communities with each other,” said Representative Hopgood, Chair, House Transportation Committee. “This proposal brings Democrats and Republicans, labor and business, and many other groups together to ensure our roads are repaired, maintained and kept safe.”
The legislation introduced includes:
• A gas tax increase phased-in over three years at three cents per year for a total of nine-cents, which creates a $450 million investment.
• Diesel tax parity phased-in over three-years at a seven-cent increase for the first year, and three cents per year for the following two years, which creates a $120 million investment.
• A fifty-percent increase in vehicle registration fees, which creates a $500 million investment.
“Now is an important time in planning for Michigan’s future, and this legislation calls for proactive measures to prevent further deterioration of our infrastructure,” said Representative DeRoche, House Republican Leader. “Attracting businesses and keeping our residents here is critical now, and an efficient and safe transportation network is key to both.”
The legislative package is widely supported by members of the Michigan Transportation Team, including labor, business, transit and local governments.
“The sky is literally falling,” said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations at the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association and co-chair of the Michigan Transportation Team (MTT). “We’ve seen newspaper headlines recently describing concrete falling from bridges and landing on cars. We need to invest more in our roads and bridges to keep our families safe.”
The legislation has also received unprecedented support from both labor and business.
“Maintaining and improving Michigan's transportation system is critically important to our state's economic competitiveness,” said Doug Roberts, Jr., director of environmental and energy policy at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. “Whether it is manufacturing or tourism, Michigan's economy depends on good roads.”
“Our union represents road construction equipment operators who put in a fair days work for a fair days pay,” said Dennis Gillow, a spokesperson for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local #324. “These are jobs that include adequate health care, retirement benefits and a wage that you can raise a family on. Maintaining and expanding Michigan roads is not only a proven method for attracting new business and tourism to our state but it also protects hundreds of jobs for hard working Michigan citizens.”
The legislation will now be referred to the House Transportation Committee.
The introduction of this legislation culminates a year-long statewide effort by the MTT, which has included statewide road and bridge condition reports, public opinion surveys and focus groups, a Web site, postcards to legislators and most recently a radio and billboard advertising campaign. The overall message of the funding campaign, known as Drive MI, has been “Don’t Forget Our Roads.” The point of the campaign is to remind legislators that there is more work to be done besides the budget and Single Business Tax replacement during this legislative session.
MTT is a broad-based, bi-partisan partnership of business, labor, local government, associations and citizens linked with the common goal of improving Michigan’s transportation infrastructure. The Drive MI campaign is committed to promoting the development and maintenance of a safe, convenient and efficient transportation network that serves the public, private and economic development needs of Michigan. Please visit www.drivemi.org for more information on transportation funding.
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“Our local roads are in a bad situation right now with revenues declining and their costs skyrocketing,” said John Niemela, director, County Road Association of Michigan. “Five to ten dollars a month in added fees is a small price to pay to keep our roads and bridges safe for families and improve the economy in Michigan.”
“This investment is key to helping our local roads get the improvements they desperately need.” Joe Fivas, assistant director of state affairs, Michigan Municipal League.
“The demands for public transit continues to grow in our state,” said Edgar Benning, president of the Michigan Public Transit Association and assistant general manager of the Flint Mass Transportation Authority. “In order to meet the growing demands for mass transit, we are going to need to increase our investment in the system.”
Momentum Growing from Newspaper Editorials
This week the gas tax increase effort has gained significant momentum with three major newspaper endorsements. These endorsements are not by accident. MITA made statewide editorial board visits in recent weeks.
This week's endorsements:
"Michigan must raise its gas tax to build and maintain the first-class transportation system that is vital for both quality of life and economic development."
--Detroit Free Press, April 3, 2007.
"Michigan needs to take steps now to protect the quality of its roads."
-- Lansing State Journal, April 1, 2007
"But a proposal from the Drive MI campaign merits consideration - particularly because of the escalating road dilemma. Drive MI wants to raise gas taxes by 9 cents over three years, increase diesel fuel taxes and hike vehicle registration fees by 50 percent."
-- Oakland Press, April 3, 2007