Michigan Senate panel advances effort to boost road funding

| 9/4/2009

A state Senate panel has approved a bill to help secure more money to get more road and bridge work done in Michigan. Another effort also seeks to enhance funding for the state.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill to the full Senate that would turn the Michigan Transportation Fund into a “trust fund” to allow the state to receive higher interest earnings from the funds.

“Under this proposal, more dollars would be raised for fixing our roads and bridges, but the funds would not be coming from residents’ paychecks,” said Sen. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, in a written statement.

It is estimated that the state could earn an additional $10 million a year by changing the transportation fund to a trust fund. Richardville said the switch would enable the state to use the money more efficiently as a transportation investment.

The bill – SB670 – would prohibit using the earnings for departmental administrative purposes.

Also moving through the statehouse is a non-binding resolution from Richardville 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.

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 – is in the House Transportation Committee. The Senate already approved it.

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.