The 2005-2006 Transportation Budget recently passed out of both the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate. Although the versions of this legislation were slightly different, ultimately, the legislation puts forth a road and bridge program that is very similar to that of the 2004-2005 program.
Increased funding is expected as a result of the federal reauthorization effort (which is expected by the end of June), and would happen through a supplemental legislative process later this year.
One area of success that MITA has had through the transportation debate was to heighten the awareness of inter-departmental grants (IDG) by which other departments are funded out of the Michigan Transportation Fund. The result was a reduction of over $2.5 million dollars at this point in IDG’s. This is just the beginning of a long-term effort to reduce and eventually eliminate this type of shell game in order to keep more road dollars.
MITA will keep you updated as to the effort of reconciling the differences between the two versions of the transportation budget as well as if and when Governor Granholm signs that budget into law.
MITA Continues to Fight $10 million Transfer
In a continuing effort to highlight inter-departmental grants, MITA has aggressively lobbied against a year-end budget balancing supplemental whereby $10 million would be transferred from the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF) to the Secretary of State. As a result of these efforts, discussions are ongoing and amendments have been written, which would put into place a pro-rated registration fee that is currently not collected. This would add an additional $19-24 million to the MTF, and thus replace the $20 million that each year is currently taken from the MTF and given to the Secretary of State.
If in fact this amendment ultimately becomes law this would be a significant step in the right direction at reducing inter-departmental grants and increasing funding for Michigan’s road construction program.
We will keep you updated on the continuing progress.
Sewer Grant Legislation Held Up in Senate
At a recent Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee hearing on House Bills 4572-4573, which would take $90 million of the $1 billion Proposal 2 money from 2002 and place it into a grant program, were held up due to several technical questions. It seems that several of the Senators on the committee have concerns about the constitutionality of taking money out of a loan program and putting it into a grant program.
MITA representatives testified in full support of this legislation, suggesting that any effort to get these sewer monies flowing out into the municipalities would be a positive step in the right direction.
Amendments are expected that will help to clean up the legislation and it is expected to move forward in the very near future.
MITA also recently presented to both the House and Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Committees as well as to legislative leadership a recent evaluation report on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund processes.
MITA Begins to Develop State Road Funding Plan
Recently, MITA commissioned a statewide public opinions survey of 600 registered voters on their opinions regarding Michigan’s roads and our state gas and diesel taxes. The poll returned many favorable responses including a very negative response to the current condition of Michigan’s roads. In the survey, respondents indicated that they might be willing to support some form of a gas tax increase in the near future depending on how the proposal was put together. They also indicated support for their elected officials even if those individuals had voted to increase our state’s gas taxes. Finally, there was also significant support for diesel parity whereby our state’s diesel fuel tax would be increased to be equal with our state’s regular gasoline tax from 15 to 19 cents.
The survey is just the first step that MITA has taken to begin a concerted effort to build a public awareness campaign and thus support for a comprehensive state revenue enhancement plan for Michigan’s transportation system.
This effort will include the formation of internal committees, the use of a public relations firm which will implement a public awareness campaign that may include radio drive time adds, billboards, etc., as well as the transition of the Michigan Transportation Team (MTT) from a federal funding coalition to a state funding coalition in the very near future.
We will keep you updated on the development of this major effort.
MITA PAC Continues to Need Your Support
For MITA to continue to be an influential voice in our state regarding industry issues, such as the ones mentioned in this bulletin as well as the issues that occur on a day-to-day basis, support and contributions from our industry representatives to the MITA PAC is essential. For those of you who have already contributed, the industry thanks you. For those of you who have yet to contribute, the rest of the industry would certainly welcome your support.
Please send your personal check or money order (corporate checks are prohibited) payable to MITA PAC, PO Box 1640, Okemos, MI 48805-1640. Thank you in advance for your support.
Contact Mike Nystrom at the MITA office with any questions or comments on any of the above issues.