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.
Charlotte Chamber: All in for transportation funding
As part of their Grow America tour, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary (and former Charlotte Mayor) Anthony Foxx met with local business and civic leaders in Charlotte this week. Their tour serves to promote the President's proposal to rebuild or replace America's crumbling infrastructure.
The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce was in attendance and is in support of congressional action on infrastructure funding. (Click here to hear reactions from chamber leaders invited to attend.) According to Bob Morgan, president of the chamber, the Charlotte region currently has two million residents, and is expected to reach four million within the next 20-30 years. As the fourth fastest growing state in the nation, funding infrastructure to support that growth is a major concern. Although the Charlotte region has great plans for economic growth and infrastructure improvement, their ability to execute those plans relies heavily on federal action.
The president's proposal, which includes $478 billion in transportation infrastructure investment over six years, serves to solve the transportation funding problem. The Highway Trust Fund is expected to once again run out of money in May 2015 if congress does not act. There is still much debate over the best way to pay for increased transportation funding, but one thing is clear: something needs to be done, and soon.
Although transportation funding is a priority in Charlotte, it is also vital to all cities, regions and states across the country. A nationwide coalition of Chambers has banded together in support of congressional action on this issue. To find out more information about the coalition, their letter to congress, and how you can join the Charlotte Chamber in support of this issue, visit acce.org/transportation.
At the start of 2014, Medicaid is to be expanded due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to people with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That expansion was expected to take in approximately 16 million uninsured people nationwide.
However, the Supreme Court’s ruling allows states to opt-out of the expansion. Thus, many governors across the country have said that their state will not expand Medicaid coverage as outlined in the ACA. This also means that those states will not be receiving the federal dollars tied to the expansion, as states that agree to the Medicaid expansion will have 100 percent of the costs paid by the federal government for the first three years.
Fiscal concern begins after the first three years when states are expected to shoulder up to 10 percent of the costs. Those increased expenses in that fourth year and beyond could strain already costly Medicaid programs.
Chambers will be watching this issue closely as the time comes for state legislatures weigh in on the issue. Join the conversation about Medicaid expansion at the next Government Relations division call on January 15, 2013. Details found at acce.org.
For a snapshot across the country, visit advisory.com’s map of Medicaid positions.
To read more about ACAs impact on Medicaid, visit Medicaid.gov
Stateline.org has a number of articles about Medicaid expansion:
Court Lets States Opt out of Medicaid Expansion
For Some States Medicaid Expansion May be a Tough Fiscal Call
Obama Win Means Big Health Care Decisions for States
Everything You Need to Know About the Fiscal Cliff
Now that the presidential election dust has settled, Congress has reconvened to discuss the fiscal cliff. Here are some comprehensive explanations about what the fiscal cliff is and what could happen if we go off it.
WP WonkBlog: Everything you need to know about the fiscal cliff in one post
Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post WonkBlog explains what it is, how big it is, when it will happen, what will happen to the economy, and what could stop it.
Council of State Chambers, State Chamber Policy Center
A new report by Inforum/University of Maryland, Fiscal Shock: America’s Economic Crisis, finds that the U.S. already is struggling due to Washington’s failure to address the fiscal cliff. The Pew Center on the States is finalizing a report that will evaluate the cliff’s impact on states, looking both at the effect of sequestration on revenue sharing and the expiration of dozens of temporary federal tax provisions on state tax systems. That report is expected in December.
Ron Haskins, co-director of the Center on Children and Families and Budgeting for National Priorities Project at the Brookings Institution, authored an interesting opinion piece: The Fiscal Cliff: Predictable, Reprehensible, but Still Avoidable.