Recently the Michigan Legislature approved a conference report for the 2005-06 Transportation Budget. This conference report includes the road and bridge program funding that will be used in the summer of 2006 for all projects funded through the Michigan Transportation Fund. In the end, the total amount of the program actually ended up by going down slightly due to increased debt repayments and other factors that came into play during this very tight and heated budget debate process.
Ultimately, House Bill 4082 was also approved and did not include amendments that were fought for by MITA. This bill was a supplement to the overall transportation budget in that it allowed for $10 million to be transferred (inter-departmental grant) to the Secretary of State to help balance their 2004-05 year end budget. The bill also included $10 million for the Secretary of State in the 2005-06 budget as well.
During the floor debate MITA, along with the County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM) and others, worked the issue very hard to attempt to get an amendment passed, which would have filled the hole in the current vehicle registration/license fee process. This amendment would have allowed for a pro-rated registration fee to be collected on any newly purchased vehicles. The pro-rated collection fee, which is not currently being collected, had the opportunity to reap as much as $24 million for the Michigan Transportation Fund, but in the end was defeated on a party-line vote of 16 Democrats voting yes and 22 Senate Republicans voting no.
The reason this amendment was shot down by the Senate Republicans is due to the fact that they had made a commitment of no new taxes or fees during this budget process. Upon further discussions with many in the Senate leadership there appears to be a possibility that this amendment may still have an opportunity to see life over the course of the next year or two. MITA will make every effort to bring this piece of legislation into law.
We will keep you updated. If you have any questions or comments on this process, please contact Mike Nystrom at the MITA office 517-347-8336.