Kevin Cotter

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan lawmakers are expected to continue discussing ways to spend more money to fix state roads. It’s estimated the state has to come up with at least $1.2 billion annually to repair Michigan’s aging and crumbling roads and bridges.

In May, voters rejected a proposal to increase fuel and sales tax rates to pay for fixing the roads.

Most of the proposals on the table now include tapping existing state revenues. The general fund is used to fund most state government programs.    

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A plan to boost road funding by about $1 billion a year could clear the state House this week.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, is pushing a plan that would rely mostly on shifting existing funds in the state budget and expected revenue increases in the coming years.

State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature is entering another round of negotiations to raise money for Michigan’s roads, following a decisive defeat of Proposal 1.

Jennifer White spoke to Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, about the politics of getting a viable roads funding plan passed. 

Here's their conversation:

Last week’s defeat of Proposal One means the billion dollar question of how to pay for Michigan’s roads remains unanswered.

Lawmakers were quick to say that they’re going to work throughout the summer to come up with a new plan. But, if they haven’t been able to find a solution yet, what makes them think they’ll be able to now?

Update Monday, January 26th:

The ax has fallen.

This afternoon, Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) and the Republican caucus developed a response that was both ruthless and nuanced to the Democratic insurgency on the House Appropriations Committee.

Michigan Legislature
Matthileo / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Zoe Clark discuss calls for bi-partisanship in Lansing now that a new legislative session is underway. Do politicians really mean it though? Or are these calls for compromise just politics as usual?


Michigan lawmakers chose new leaders after the recent elections.
Matt Katzenberger / flickr.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers' first order of business after the election was picking new leaders.

Republicans on Thursday chose Arlan Meekhof to lead the Senate for the next four years. The 54-year-old from West Olive is best known for sponsoring one of Michigan's two right-to-work laws that made union fees voluntary.

Rep. Kevin Cotter of Mount Pleasant was chosen to be Speaker of the House. Al Pscholka of Stevensville also sought the speakership but dropped his bid in exchange for being named to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills will continue as House Democrats' leader. Senate Democrats picked Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint to succeed Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing.  

In January, Republicans will have 63-47 and 27-11 edges in the House and Senate.

Michigan House Republicans / gophouse.org

A plan to expand mental health courts in Michigan seems to be gaining momentum in the state Legislature. A state House panel unanimously approved the bill Thursday.

People diagnosed with conditions like severe depression and schizophrenia can avoid jail time and have certain charges erased from public records if they participate in mental health treatment programs under the supervision of a judge.

At the same time, they can get help finding jobs, education opportunities, and housing.

State Rep. Kevin Cotter (R-Mount Pleasant) chairs the state House Judiciary Committee. He says alternative courts get results and could save the state money in the long-term.

flickr.com

Michigan residents will have to wait to gamble in the lottery online. iLottery, proposed by the Michigan Lottery, would have allowed people to buy tickets and play games like Club Keno and scratch-offs right from their computer.

However, that plan is no more. Gov. Rick Snyder approved the state budget that did not include the new gambling tool.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

In a meeting with members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education some tough words were levied at University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman.

Coleman was at the meeting to testify on Gov. Snyder's funding proposal for higher education.

During the hearing, State Rep. Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) said the University of Michigan did not adequately give the legislature answers to questions about human embryonic stem cells.

More from Dave Murray of MLive.com:

Cotter said the school was supposed to provide answers to five questions about the use of human embryonic stem cells – numbers he said could be provided on one sheet – and the university instead sent a cover letter with 50 pages of copied newspaper articles.

“The university is thumbing its nose at the Legislature,” he said.

Genetski, R-Saugatuck, said the university’s funding “might be in jeopardy” if it is not more cooperative.

Coleman said she doesn’t think there is a problem with the way the university responded, and she and the lawmakers “would have to disagree” on the issue.

Drunken Sailors

Apr 15, 2011

I’ve been following the Michigan legislature’s attempts to approve various sections of the state budget, and the cliché that first came to my mind this morning was the wrong one. I was tempted to tell you that they have been behaving like drunken sailors.