SOUTHFIELD (WWJ/AP) – Michigan Governor Rick Snyder laid out a far reaching plan to help stabilize the state’s crumbling roads. He said we’re looking at about $1 billion a year to fix the state’s transportation funding issues.
“Michigan’s infrastructure is living on borrowed time,” Snyder said. “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,” he said.
“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.”
So, where will all this money come from?
Snyder wants to try a new way of taxing gasoline and diesel fuel to raise the money needed to fix roads and bridges. In his speech at Lawrence Tech University Wednesday afternoon, Snyder also discussed thoughts on improving public transit, Internet, and sewer systems in the state.
Snyder suggested several ways that the state could raise more money for roads, such as increasing vehicle registration fees by $10 a month, which would raise $1 billion more a year.
WWJ’s Marie Osborne said that plan would mean $120 more per motorist per year for vehicle registration.
Snyder is also calling for the elimination of the 19-cent gas tax motorists pay at the pump in favor of a tax on the wholesale price of fuel.
Snyder said no one wants higher taxes, but that more investment is needed to help the state’s economic recovery, noting that “better roads drive better jobs.” He’s stressing his plan will save Michigan citizens money in the long run.
Also among the governor’s proposals is the idea that local communities will have more say on how their road and bridge projects are funded. Snyder wants to let local governments raise their own fees to fix local streets. He also supports rapid transit in southeast Michigan.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reported that Snyder is stressing that these are just ideas, saying he wants to start a dialog on the state’s transportation issues.
“The governor was very careful in this news conference today and in his speech not to say he was calling on lawmakers to do this. He was throwing this stuff out as an example of what lawmakers could do,” Skubick said.
Skubick said that, at the State Capitol, feedback is already coming in on both sides of the issue.
“We already started to get some feel from Democrats that this is bold enough, but we’ve also talked to special interest groups that build the roads … they are absolutely in love with this proposal because it gives them $1.4 billion if, please underscore, if they can get lawmakers to go along with the governor and make this program work,” reported Skubick.
Following this speech, Snyder was asked if he thinks Michigan is really going to make this happen.
“For too long we’ve been too negative in this state. If you look at all of the things we’ve accomplished, we’ve got a pretty good track record,” said Snyder.
“It’s not about me. It’s about all of us deciding there’s the old Michigan and we’re going to reinvent our state and we’re going to be winners and let’s just go get this done,” he said.
Speaking earlier on WWJ, Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association said a plan like Snyder’s is needed for long-term growth.
“We can invite those good paying job providers back to Michigan if we lay the foundation,” said Nystrom.
“But if we aren’t investing in ourselves and the bridges and roads are crumbling, it’s hard to envision someone coming to Michigan and saying, boy, I want to move my plant or my business to that state,” he said.
Nystrom believes the state will see an immediate impact as well with the addition of new construction jobs.
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