Road Work: Michigan Chambers Help with Transportation Funding
After a long and hard fight in the legislature and at the ballot box, Michigan finally has a long-term plan for road funding.
Transportation funding has been a top priority for several years, but the final solution wasn’t found until after voters in May struck down a measure that would have increased the state sales tax by 1% to help raise $1.2 billion for transportation. In the worst defeat for a Michigan ballot measure in 52 years, 80% of voters said no. While it was clear that this particular plan was not what voters wanted, the public and the business community were still clamoring for a solution to solve a looming transportation crisis.
According to a study released in the spring, 38% of Michigan’s major roads are in poor condition, 45% are fair, and only 17% are good. Under current funding, the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council estimates that 53% of those major roads will be in poor condition by 2025. With the “Pure Michigan” campaign spending money to draw travelers to Michigan, and countless other industries relying on surface transportation, it was clear that funding infrastructure improvements was overdue.
Transportation has long been a major priority for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. A 2015 member survey found that transportation was a top concern, with 64% saying that poor road conditions had an impact on their business. So, when a balanced package was being considered in the legislature to raise the $1.2 billion with a combination of new revenue and existing state dollars, the chamber moved to support the measure.
Grand Rapids joined five other regional chambers in support of a common sense, long-term funding solution calling for $600 million in dedicated funding from existing state revenues, and $600 million in new money. The other five chambers were The Chamber of Commerce – Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.
According to Josh Lunger, director of Government Affairs in Grand Rapids, “the unified show of support was helpful in advancing the plan.” On Nov. 4, the Michigan Legislature passed the compromise package which was signed a week later by Gov. Rick Snyder. The $600 million in new revenue will come from $400 million from increasing the gas tax 7.3 cents per gallon and creating diesel parity, and $200 million from a 20% increase in registration fees.
The revenue increases take effect in January 2017. Moving forward, Lunger stressed the importance of working hand in hand with legislators to effectively plan for future budget pressures and the shift of $600 million in “existing state dollars". He urges deliberate and thoughtful consideration to determine where best to make changes so that important programs, such as Early Childhood Education and Workforce Development, are not compromised.
Paying for Infrastructure with the Gas Tax
Iowa lawmakers say gas tax increase is a 50-50 issue
Iowa’s senate majority leader says a substantial number of republicans and democrats in the state senate support investing in the state’s infrastructure. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Commission recommended raising registration fees for new vehicles by one percent, establishing a new user fee for hybrid vehicles and a phased gas tax increase equivalent to a 10-cent hike. Read more: Sioux City Journal
The extra mile: Maryland gas tax could increase
Maryland’s legislative session begins Wednesday, and a proposed hike to the gas tax will be a big issue. Watch the video for more details, including how money from the tax would be used: WUSA9
Minnesota tax cut on autopilot
On July 1, Minnesota’s highway fuel tax will go up a half-penny per gallon. Unless there is legislative action, it won’t go up again—ever. While some may cheer, others are considering what that may mean for the safety, comfort, efficiency and even the cost of driving in the long run. Read more: editorial from Minnesota 2020
How States are Building the Nation’s Transportation Systems Report
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Center for Excellence in Project Finance at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) have partnered to produce a review of transportation governance and finance for all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Read the full report here.
This report focuses on transportation finance and the roles and relationships among the branches of state government that are most active in transportation issues. The report also offers a rich diversity of approaches to govern, finance and ultimate deliver America’s transportation systems.
Brookings: Missed Opportunity Transit Report
It seemed fitting that on my way to the Brookings Institute yesterday morning for the presentation on Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America, I hit a typical DC traffic snag and crawled from Alexandria to DC for two long hours. I fancy myself to be a runner and smiled a weak smile of satisfaction when I discovered I could have run there faster than I could drive in my car. I then chastised myself for not taking the Metro to a Transit report unveiling. What was I thinking?
Brookings had a great line-up to discuss the roll out of the Missed Opportunity report. Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow at Brookings gave an overview of the study and there was a panel discussion about the implications of the findings followed by Secretary LaHood and Secretary Donovan discussing the federal role.
The real star of the show was the Missed Opportunity report. Visit Brookings site to read the full report and all of the supporting content. Be sure to check out the interactive map.
“Dr. Gridlock”, Robert Thomson, of the Washington Post moderated the panel of Keith Parker, CEO, Via Transit Systems, San Antonio, TX; Matthew Mahood, President and CEO, Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce; Ponsella Hardaway, Executive Director, Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES); and Alan Berube, Senior Fellow and Research Director, Metropolitan Policy Program, from Brookings. Here are some of the things I sent out into the twittersphere during the panel:
Following the panel discussion, Bruce Katz joined Secretary Ray LaHood (Transportation) and Secretary Shaun Donovan (HUD) to talk about what the Feds are doing about transit. Secretary LaHood and Secretary Donovan have been working together very closely over the past two and a half years. Again, here are some notable quotes that I tweeted:
Again, here is the link for the Missed Opportunity page on Brookings site: Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America.