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road funding

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Governor Rick Snyder has signed a budget bill that accelerates spending on road repairs in time to help with the spring and summer construction season.

The bill shifts $175 million from next year’s construction season to use this coming spring and summer to fix roads.

“You’re going to see a lot of (orange) barrels in every corner of Michigan,” he said.

But this spending on repairs is still not expected to keep pace with the rate at which roads are crumbling following a freeze-and-thaw winter’s that’s been brutal on pavement.

Potholes on a road in Ann Arbor.
Daniel Hensel / Michigan Radio

This week, Governor Snyder is expected to sign a bill sending an extra $175 million in one-time funds to our state and local roads. That money supplements $2.3 billion in ongoing funds this year. 

Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, joined Stateside again to answer one more MI Curious question about Michigan's roads. 

Someone shooting a gun at a gun range.
Peretz Partensky / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Democrats in Lansing want a state law that requires background checks for all firearm purchases. This is one of a number of ideas lawmakers have floated since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. But the House Republican leader says he’s focused on improving mental health services, while other Republicans have proposed allowing certain teachers to carry weapons.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the divide in the Capitol over how to keep kids safe from gun violence.


Pearl Pirie / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Roads, flood damage repairs, and an investigation could get money sent their way soon. The Legislature sent a spending bill to the governor’s desk today.

Every lawmaker in the House and Senate voted in favor of the bill. The big ticket item is roads – $175 million spread out to cities and villages, county road commissions and state road preservation and projects.

“For the roads, it’s probably been the worst Michigan winter we’ve had in 15 to 20 years when you look at the freeze and the thaw, the freeze and the thaw," said Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt.

Why are Michigan roads so bad? Because we don’t put enough money into fixing them.

Why is that? Because lawmakers don’t fear underfunding the state’s roads will cost them on Election Day.

A crumbling road with a large pothole in the asphalt
Chris UK / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Lawmakers in Lansing want to put $175 million toward fixing the state’s roads. The state House passed the spending bill today.

Governor Rick Snyder initially proposed a similar spending bump for the next budget cycle. But lawmakers say the potholes and crumbling roads need to be addressed as soon as possible. They want the money available in time for construction season.

Potholes are only part of the challenge for motorists trying to survive Michigan's aging roadways
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A snowy winter mixed with a few recent warmer days could make for a particularly nasty pothole season in Michigan.

A Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson says more people seem to be calling the state’s pipeline hotline this year. So far, more than 500 people have reported problems on roads across the state using the hotline.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder wants the public to turn up the heat on state lawmakers over road funding.

At a Michigan Department of Transportation facility in Oakland County Thursday, Snyder said his push is partly about the entire 2019 budget he proposed this week. It has an additional $150 million for infrastructure projects.

But Snyder also wants to bring in another $175 million of what he calls some “one-time” supplemental money that’s already elsewhere in the budget to pay for some additional projects sooner.

Governor Snyder patches potholes on M-37.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder today vetoed a road funding bill aimed at giving some relief to cities.

Right now, cities with more than 25,000 people have to share the costs of nearby state trunk line road construction projects. Senate Bill 557 sought to end that practice. It passed both the state House and Senate with big majorities.

The Michigan Department of Transportation's plans for construction on I-75 have hit a funding snag.
Flickr user dmitri_66 / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to widen Interstate 75 through Oakland County — but there’s a snag in the funding. A provision in a 1951 law requires cities or villages with a minimum of 25,000 residents, such as Troy, to pay a part for any highway construction within the state. But some residents whose communities fall under the provision don’t want to pay.

Marcie Casas

Update 2:30 p.m.: Judge Christopher Yates has ruled Hewlett-Packard must hand over the source code to Michigan.

Original post:

Michigan is squaring off with technology company Hewlett-Packard over source code for an unfinished computer system upgrade.

The state hired HP in 2005 to replace the Secretary of State's computer system. The $49 million project was supposed to be finished by 2010. 

Michigan terminated its contract with HP in August, on grounds that the company had missed deadlines and failed to deliver a complete project.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation that will increase fuel taxes and registration fees and re-prioritize spending to raise more than $1 billion to fix roads.

How Flint's water crisis pushed road funding plan ahead

Nov 5, 2015

I heard from several puzzled people yesterday, after Governor Rick Snyder proclaimed he would sign the road fund package the legislature narrowly passed on election night.

“I don’t get it,” one man said. “I thought the governor said that cutting the general fund by $600 million a year was too much.” Well, yes, he did say that.

A similar road funding approach fell apart barely two months ago, because the governor said he couldn’t support cuts that deep. Snyder’s press secretary, Sara Wurfel, said he was worried about “jeopardizing the state’s financial stability and comeback.”


Voters are smarter than the politicians

Nov 4, 2015

Two things happened yesterday that starkly illustrate what’s right and what’s wrong with politics and government in this state. First, we had an election – or, more accurately, a whole flock of elections. Turnout wasn’t great, despite the beautiful weather.

But the vast majority of the voters behaved reasonably and responsibly.


Repair trucks on a Michigan road.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A $1.2 billion road funding plan has cleared the state Senate.

The new "compromise" plan takes $600 million from existing revenues to the state's General Fund, $400 million from a seven-cent-per-gallon increase in the state's gas tax, and $200 million from an increase in vehicle registration fees.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Top lawmakers hope to reach a compromise this week on road funding bills.

The state House recently approved a $1.2 billion plan that in equal parts raises taxes and shifts money from other areas of the budget.

Are we there yet? The Senate says no

Oct 29, 2015

The Michigan Legislature may be inching toward a roads funding package. The roughly $1 billion plan would take $600 million from the state’s general fund and could include a rollback in the state income tax rate. It would also increase vehicle registration fees by 40%. While the House has passed the plan, the Michigan Senate scheduled and then delayed a vote on the plan.

Today on Stateside:

  • This week there was some optimism that the state Senate might pass a road funding plan, but it didn’t happen. Rick Pluta, co-host of It’s Just Politics and Daniel Howes, business columnist at the Detroit News, joined us to talk roads.

KellyP42 / morgueFile

The stalemate over road funding continues in the Michigan Legislature.

The state Senate was expected to pass a road funding plan on Tuesday that had already been approved by the state House. But it adjourned after about eight hours of talks without a vote.

Another road funding plan is moving in Lansing but, after four years of debate, one has to wonder: has a real solution become an impossible dream?

In the state Legislature, the Senate now has the House plan. The House has the Senate plan. But, even though it’s Republicans calling the shots in Lansing, Republicans can’t agree on what to do about fixing the roads.

Roads
Wikimedia Commons

Just fix the roads already.

That's what some Michigan business leaders are all but begging Lansing to do, even if means getting behind $600 million in new taxes and fees.

But they say  that’s how bad the roads are.

"I hope that's the message that the legislators hear, that it is just that important. Because we don't take this lightly,” says Rick Baker, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

His group and six other chambers – mostly from West Michigan – put out a statement today demanding Lansing take “immediate action on roads.”

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

  Republican leaders in the state Senate say they’re willing to consider a road funding plan approved late Wednesday night by the state House.

That $1 billion plan eventually raises taxes and fees by $600 million. It also makes $600 million in unspecified cuts to other parts of the budget. And the legislation includes a possible rollback in Michigan’s income tax rate.

WFIU Public Radio / Creative Commons

The state House met into the night to adopt a road-funding plan, but it seems that a final deal on paying for road repairs remains elusive.

The $1 billion package relies on new fuel taxes and vehicle fees. But half the money would also come from cutting other parts of the budget.

Governor Rick Snyder is facing a tough sell today as he tries to re-start the conversation on fixing Detroit’s schools. And, that’s just one of the political tough sells the Second Term Nerd is facing.

The politics of guns, roads and water

Oct 14, 2015
user westsideshooter / Flickr

In this Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss proposed bills to eliminate gun free zones, how road funding talks have stalled again, and an update on the Flint water crisis. 

You can listen below:

Orange construction barrels
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state House returns this week with two fewer members.

The House expelled Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser resigned late last week due to a sex-and-cover-up scandal.

Speaker Kevin Cotter says lawmakers can focus on roads now that the scandal is no longer a distraction.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

There’s a lot of talk (though as of yet, no action) about a long-term solution for fixing Michigan’s crumbling roads.

One question that comes up a lot in the surrounding debate: What role do all those heavy trucks play, and what should we do about them?

That’s the question at the heart of this edition of MI Curious, Michigan Radio’s series investigating listener questions about our state.

Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek looked into this question from Ethan Winter, who asked: “Why are all the weigh stations always closed?”

Once again lawmakers are starting over as another road funding plan collapsed late last week in Lansing.

What really happened?

The latest effort to come up with more than a billion dollars for roads had pitted Republicans against Republicans. The GOP has a 63 to 46 advantage over Democrats in the state House, and a 27 to 11 margin in the state Senate. Those numbers led to the idea that GOP leaders could develop a Republican-only roads solution without having to deal with the Democrats.

What impact would having part-time Legislators have on Michigan?
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

Jennifer White spoke to Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about legislative progress towards a roads funding package.

Sikkema says there hasn't been real progress made and Republicans have failed to identify the cuts they would make in the state budget to pay for road improvements. He also says he thinks Republicans need to be willing to make the cuts they identify, rather than leave them for a later legislature to handle.

Contrary to what you might think, it is not true that our government in Lansing can’t do anything. Why, just yesterday, the governor reappointed four members to the Michigan Carrot Commission. 

And the state House of Representatives unanimously voted to retroactively recognize last Sunday as Airborne Day, whatever that means.

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