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Bulletins, News, and Press: Legislative Bulletins

Legislative Update: Clean Water, Transportation Budget and Chunks of Crumbling Concrete

Thursday, September 13, 2007   (0 Comments)
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State Revolving Fund Projects Bring Work for Underground

As the state’s fiscal year comes to an end in three weeks, the state will close the books on an expected $550 million in loans for fiscal year 2007, compared to awards averaging only $160 million per year over the last three years. This amount is about $70 million greater than was projected in MITA’s online bulletin posted this time last year. (See: Loan Applications for Water and Wastewater Revolving Fund Programs Skyrocket, 9-29-06)

For 2008, the state expects to tender about $570 million in loans. This amount is contingent upon full use of available money generated from Proposal 2 of 2002. In previous years, the state has avoided borrowing the bond money made available through the Great Lakes Water Quality Bond Initiative of 2002 because they were able to provide funds for all the approved applications using existing money. However, demand will exceed cash available in 2008. The state expects to have $500 million in demands that will not be met, even with the Proposal 2 bond money available.

MITA will continue to work with policymakers and the MDEQ to push for full use of Proposal 2 money. The budget problems in Lansing will have an impact on these funds, as debt service payments must come from the state’s general fund to pay back the borrowed money.

Transportation Budget on Its Way to Conference Committee

Last week the House substituted zeros in all line items of the proposed 2008 Transportation Budget and passed the bill (SB 240) out of their chamber. The move was a procedural one which allows the budget to go to a joint House-Senate conference committee to work out final details.

One area of the budget that MITA will be focusing on is $13 million from the Transportation Economic Development Fund. The governor’s executive recommendation calls for those dollars to be transferred to the state’s general fund. The House and Senate passed versions to retain those dollars for certain new economic developments in need of infrastructure improvements.

MITA has also worked with Rep. Lee Gonzales (D-Flint) to fight diversions of road money to other state agencies in the state budget. Boilerplate language was adopted, which would require state departments to adopt cost allocation plans based on the actual cost of providing the transportation services as well as allow easier tracking of internal interdepartmental transfers.

Finally, there are efforts being made by AT&T to be reimbursed for the costs of utility relocation during road projects. The stated intent is to garner new federal money the state is potentially eligible for, not to divert existing MTF dollars. MDOT says the pricetag could potentially amount to $44 million. MITA will work to provide safeguards so that no money will be lost for existing road projects.


The Sky is Falling: Crumbled Concrete Delivered to Legislators’ Offices

Christmas came early for lawmakers when 148 boxes filled with fallen concrete from bridges across Michigan was delivered to their Lansing offices on Wednesday.

“Just like the bad kid at Christmas, legislators got a big lump of coal in the form of dilapidated infrastructure to remind them Michigan’s roads and bridges are crumbling on their watch,” said Mike Nystrom, vice-president of government and public relations for Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) and co-chair of Michigan’s Transportation Team.

“Our care package that was delivered should serve as a wake up call to Lansing that we must have additional investments in our infrastructure,” Nystrom said. When pieces of bridges start falling on people’s cars — which happened just a few months ago — we’ve got a serious problem.”

The unusual message to legislators created a buzz around the Capitol over the past week and has also generated local, state and even national attention.


If you have any questions please contact Mike Nystrom, Vice President of Government and Public Relations at mikenystrom@mi-ita.com; or Keith Ledbetter, Director of Legislative Affairs at keithledbetter@mi-ita.com; or by calling the MITA office at (517) 347-8336.

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