Michigan Governor Calls for Transportation Funding Reform

AASHTO Journal, 28 October 2011

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder this week called for increased investment in the state’s infrastructure, specifically infrastructure related to transportation.Gov. Snyder’s message — that better roads drive better jobs — was among the key messages delivered during a news conference at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, a leader in developing innovative road construction materials.”Michigan’s infrastructure is living on borrowed time,” Gov. Snyder said, according to a statement. “We must reinvest in it if we are to successfully reinvent our economy. I haven’t met a Michigan driver yet who is satisfied with the condition of our roads and yet we’re facing a $1.4 billion shortfall just to maintain our current system. If we want to grow our economy and keep our children here, then we need to fix the very foundation of our state. Michigan put the world on wheels. We can continue being a transportation leader through bold, innovative approaches to upgrading our infrastructure. It’s time to seriously engage in this discussion that is so vital to our state’s future.”

Gov. Snyder focused on four primary needs:

  • A modern transportation system that moves people and goods efficiently, reliably, and safely.
  • A multi-modal system serving the movements of a new generation of Michiganders that is more active, urban-based, and tech savvy.
  • Water and sewer systems that support and protect Michigan’s rich environment.
  • Integrating the broadband telecommunications network, connecting every business and household to the Internet.

Snyder also urged reforms to Michigan’s transportation user fees to ensure sustainable funding for roads and bridges. His recommendations include:

  • Allowing counties and regional authorities to levy a local vehicle registration fee to support transportation if approved by local voters.
  • Eliminating the state’s current 19-cents-per-gallon gas tax and 15-cents-per-gallon diesel tax in favor of a percentage wholesale tax on fuel, which is a more viable long-term funding approach. The wholesale tax would be revenue neutral upon enactment.
  • Increasing investment in the state’s infrastructure by $1 billion to $1.4 billion each year.
  • Distributing new transportation funding based on road use and traffic volumes, with a seven- to ten-year transition period for full effect. This would include any new revenues beyond what is collected and spent today.

Gov. Snyder said that Michigan loses nearly $3 million each day in the value of its transportation assets, or $1 billion annually. Each dollar spent today to preserve a road or bridge saves Michigan at least $6 in future rebuilding costs, according to a statement from his office.

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