State of the State will have Focus on Infrastructure
Governor Jennifer Granholm's office gave MITA a heads up regarding the focus of her State of the State address scheduled for Tuesday, February 8. The overall message will be the economy and how to create jobs, but she will focus on four key subjects: improving infrastructure, enhancing the state's economic infrastructure to lure growing sectors of the economy, the disconnect between the type of jobs available and the skills of workers looking for jobs, and boosting education. In addition, the Granholm administration has requested input from MITA as they develop details regarding their infrastructure proposal.
Thus far a key element in Granholm's infrastructure proposal is a plan to create 36,000 jobs in public construction and cleanup projects with a bond refinancing plan that speeds up the availability of $1 billion cash for the state. The money, to be made available in a three-year span rather than 10 years, would go for roads, environmental cleanup, university projects and housing. Sewer Funding also a Hot Topic
In other news from Lansing, a recent push by a MITA-led coalition for municipalities to take advantage of the sewer revolving fund has drawn attention from the legislature. House Speaker Craig DeRoche (R-Novi) said that the administration was not moving quickly enough to issue bonds for the revolving fund, which was approved by voters in 2002. In response to those comments, Environmental Quality Director Steven Chester issued a statement. He said that the state has issued only $100 million of the $1 billion approved under the ballot issue, the loan interest rate has been reduced, and still communities have not had funds to commit to the loan repayment. Chester said he expects more demand for the loans beginning in 2006 as the state's economy improves.
Speaker DeRoche's office spokesperson stated that if the sewer revolving fund was a priority for the Governor and administration, they could change the rules and make the program more affordable and accessible to communities.
MITA will continue to be at the forefront of both the Governor's infrastructure proposal and the sewer revolving fund issue. Stay tuned for progress reports.