The Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association expressed their opposition April 19 to the practice of shifting funds out of the Michigan Transportation Fund to bolster the budgets of other state departments.
Legislation was approved in the Michigan House of Representatives the week of April 11 that took away $10 million from road improvements in a mid-year adjustment and sent it to the Department of State. The Michigan Senate could take up similar legislation this week.
Michigan’s struggling economy and deteriorating roads simply cannot afford to have the rug pulled out from under them once again. This shell game is literally highway robbery and MITA plans to lobby the Senate vigorously to reject this measure when it comes before them.
This is not the first time constitutionally-protected transportation resources have been transferred away from the MTF to other state departments, including departments that have seen budget increases in recent years. Interdepartmental fund transfers in the 2005-2006 budget add up to approximately $44 million, which would be the equivalent of a four cent diesel tax increase.
This fiscal maneuvering takes away critical funds from an integral component of Michigan’s economic rebound to cover bureaucratic costs. It also has the domino effect of making it more difficult to attract good-paying jobs and new businesses to Michigan.
This is yet another example of lawmakers bypassing the needs of an area that contributes greatly to our chances of an economic recovery — transportation — in favor of administrative or bureaucratic programs that won’t necessarily create a single new job. It is ironic that at a time when state officials on both sides of the aisle criticize the federal government’s unwillingness to adequately provide for our transportation needs, they continue to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ with our own state funding.
MITA and other transportation advocates plan to aggressively oppose the growing practice of interdepartmental fund transfers in future budgets. Stay tuned for further updates.