Michigan governor vetoes cost-sharing roads bill

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/14/2016

As the state of Michigan prepares to collect more revenue at the fuel pump, the governor has vetoed a bill described as protecting local road funding.

The legislation calls for ending a requirement that the state’s largest cities cover some of the expense of local road work. Specifically, the state requires that cities with populations in excess of 25,000 must reimburse the Michigan Department of Transportation for a portion of road projects within their limits.

The rule affects 45 cities statewide that include state trunk lines within their limits. The state trunk line highway system is a 9,655-mile network of roads posted with Interstate-, U.S.- or M-numbered route designations.

Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, said the bill would assist cities and villages with road repairs by removing a requirement that forces them to use limited funds to reimburse MDOT for road projects within their limits.

Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the bill despite it receiving unanimous approval from the Republican-led state Legislature.

The GOP governor acknowledges that the bill, SB557, seeks to soften a provision that creates hardships for some communities. However, in his veto letter to state lawmakers he said the bill goes too far.

“There are many state trunk lines that are critical commercial corridors in those communities,” Snyder wrote. “In these cases cost sharing seems reasonable.”

He also noted the affected communities receive more funding under the state’s “equivalent major mileage” program.

“Eliminating the cost sharing requirement while maintaining reimbursements for equivalent major mileage takes what some consider an inequity in one respect ... and makes it an inequity in another.”

Instead of taking a piecemeal approach, Snyder called on state lawmakers to work with him to achieve “wholesale revisions” to the state’s road funding distribution law before the end of the year.

The Legislature can choose to attempt to override the veto. A veto would require a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate.

In January, the state’s 19-cent-per-gallon gas tax rate will increase by 7.3 cents to 26.3 cents. The 15-cent diesel rate will also increase by 11.3 cents to 26.3 cents. Vehicle registration fees will rise by 20 percent.

Changes in the fuel tax rates are estimated to raise $400 million annually.

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

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