Michigan lawmaker pursues road funds

| 7/22/2009

Intent on getting more road and bridge work done in Michigan, a state senator has offered multiple plans to help accomplish that goal.

The Michigan Senate has approved a non-binding resolution from Sen. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, that urges the federal government to waive the 20 percent state match required for transportation projects for two years.

Richardville said such action could save taxpayer dollars and help with the state’s economic recovery.

“Given our increasing unemployment rate and declining state revenues, there is little chance that Michigan will have the dollars necessary to meet the federal match,” Richardville said in a written statement.

The state gets about $982 million in federal stimulus transportation funds. Only five states received less per capita.

Since the 1950s, Michigan has contributed a greater proportionate share to the Federal Highway Trust Fund than the share of federal funds returned to the state.

“We have been subsidizing other states’ roads for more than 50 years,” Richardville said. “I encourage Congress to recognize Michigan’s extreme financial difficulties and our status as a donor state. We simply cannot afford the required matching funds.”

The legislation – Senate Concurrent Resolution 15 – has moved to the House Transportation Committee.

Another effort from Richardville would make changes to Michigan law to help secure more money for roads and bridges. The bill would turn the Michigan Transportation Fund into a “trust fund” to allow the state to receive higher interest earnings from the funds.

“Michigan could earn an additional $10 million a year by changing the transportation fund to a trust fund,” Richardville said. His bill would prohibit using the earnings for departmental administrative purposes. “Any income or profit earned would go directly to road and bridge projects,” he said in a written statement.

The bill – SB670 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.