Lawmakers fail to find money for roads before summer
LANSING, MI (MPRN)-- Legislation to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads will have to wait until lawmakers return from their summer break.
The state Senate failed multiple times this week to pass comprehensive road spending plans – and even rejected legislation that would make structural changes to the system, but keep funding at or near current levels.
Now, lawmakers have left Lansing and probably won’t hold any more votes until August or September.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says they’ll continue working to find a solution until then.
“Why would be hurry to try and come up with a gas tax increase when we all know there’s probably a better solution out there? Instead, we decided to work through the summer and come out with a better solution,” Richardville told reporters Thursday after the Senate had adjourned.
Richardville was the architect of that plan to raise the state’s tax on gasoline to pay for infrastructure improvements.
Gov. Rick Snyder remains “relentlessly positive” about raising the money to fix Michigan’s roads. He says lawmakers have made progress toward a deal.
“If you go back a year or two when I first started talking about it, we had a long way to go,” Snyder said during a media roundtable at the state Capitol Thursday afternoon. “And I think we’ve seen a lot of positive progress and the dynamic of action happening – the velocity of action happening has increased quite a bit in the last month.”
The governor said on Monday he wanted a transportation package on his desk by the end of the week, before the Legislature’s summer break. Snyder says election year politics are partly to blame for the failure to meet that deadline.
“If we were sitting at the kitchen table as a big family and you looked at this issue, we would have solved this problem,” he said. “It’s a challenge. It’s an election year. So you’re finding participants in this process becoming more political. That’s unfortunate.”
Most estimates say the state needs to boost transportation funding between $1-2 billion a year to keep the roads from getting worse. Many legislators on both sides of the aisle have not been willing to raise taxes to get there.
The governor says he expects lawmakers to form workgroups over the summer to hammer out a road funding solution.