Michigan’s Transportation Team Urges Congress to Improve Highway Funding
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Posted by: Nancy Brown
More than three dozen members of Michigan’s Transportation Team traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to urge Congress to pass legislation that will increase federal transportation funding for the state. The group will be meeting with members of Michigan’s congressional delegation and key committee staff over the next two days.
“It is no surprise that Michigan lags behind the rest of the country in economic growth just as it ranks near the bottom in the amount of transportation funding received from Washington,” said Mike Nystrom, vice-president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) and co-chair of MTT. “Finally passing a long-term highway bill with adequate resources for Michigan will help attract and protect good-paying jobs and allow us to build a safer, more efficient transportation system.”
This week the Senate is scheduled to consider legislation recently approved by the House of Representatives (H.R. 3, “The Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users”) that would reauthorize long-term surface transportation funding. This version of the bill would result in at least $100 million or more annually in increased funding for Michigan.
The current authorization extension is set to expire May 31, 2005 and MTT members are lobbying Congress to avoid a seventh extension and pass a long-term bill before the expiration deadline. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, the six previous extensions and a lack of a long-term transportation bill has cost Michigan more than $500 million in critical resources for road and bridge improvements.
Based on previous studies, if Congress had avoided the extensions and approved a long-term reauthorization bill, Michigan would have been able to create an additional 25,175 construction, engineering, design and other good-paying jobs and spurred more than $3.2 billion in additional economic activity.
Michigan has long been a “donor” state – a state that sends more federal gas tax money to the federal government than it gets in return. Currently the state ranks 44th in rate of return, receiving only 90.5 cents back on every dollar its taxpayers send to Washington. MTT leaders organized a meeting of other donor state representatives today to strengthen their message to lawmakers and highlight the need for more equitable funding.
The mission of the more than 80 public and private organizations that make up the MTT is to secure additional transportation funding from the federal government. Members of the group include businesses, workers, state and local government officials and others.