Developments have seemingly been slow on the transportation funding initiative in recent weeks, overshadowed by debate and legislative approval of the federal stimulus money for state road projects. With that action now completed, a singular focus is shifting back to the long-term funding needs, as the funding initiative reaches a critical time.
MITA lobbyists met with Granholm’s top transportation advisor this week to begin crafting a strategy to unveil the governor’s new plan after spring break. Advocates continue to believe that the transportation funding issue must be addressed by the July 4th summer recess or legislators will put the issue off until after the November 2010 elections.
While final details are still being discussed, the plan has not changed in recent weeks. It includes a percentage tax on the wholesale price of gas and diesel, incremental increases in the vehicle registration fee, authorization of Public-Private-Partnerships, and others.
The MITA membership have hosted close to 100 meetings with legislators in recent weeks and have been reporting those contacts to MITA staff on a regular basis. Legislators have mentioned those constituent contacts to MITA lobbyists almost daily. Important progress is being made!
The Senate Republican Caucus is an important focus right now. The goal is to get at least 10 votes from them on the package. Below is a rundown of the feedback as a result of recent meetings:
Jason Allen – Open with larger rail investment Patricia Birkholz - Open Cameron Brown - Lean no Nancy Cassis - No Alan Cropsey - Open Valde Garcia - ? Tom George - Lean yes Bill Hardiman - Open Mark Jansen - Open Ron Jelinek - No Roger Kahn - Open Wayne Kuipers – Open if important reforms are included Michelle McManus - No John Papageorge - Lean yes Bruce Patterson - ? Randy Richardville - Leaning no Alan Sanborn - No Tony Stamas - Lean yes Gerald Van Woerkom – Lean yes
As with any legislative vote, legislators want to know final details, gauge public reaction to the various proposals, and be able to discuss these issues with colleagues before making a final decision. This list is a snapshot in time that could change based on a number of factors. As such, it is recommend that the list not be shared with members of the media.
Legislators will be in their home districts over the next two weeks—a great time to make contact with them once again to ask about the status of the funding initiative and to feel them out as to what they are hearing. All MITA members (Pavement Pounders) are encouraged to make contacts in the next few weeks to help continue building support among all legislators (this includes House and Senate members and Democrats and Republicans alike).
MITA lobbyists continue to work at the corridors of the capitol to push the issue. Meetings with the 46 new members of the Michigan House have almost been completed and a number of meetings with Senate Republicans have already taken place as well. You will continue to be apprised of developments as they happen. In the meantime, please feel free to contact Mike Nystrom at firstname.lastname@example.org or Keith Ledbetter at email@example.com or call the MITA office at 517-347-8336 with any questions or comments.