Congress Passes Another Transportation Extension Hours Before Deadline

Despite the Senate working many days to iron out various amendments before passing a six year transportation authorization bill (three years of which were funded under the plan), in the end, local communities are handed another short term extension. The House essentially refused to consider a long term bill and argued that there was not enough time to negotiate differences. Part of this included a non-transportation issue: the Export-Import bank reauthorization which the Senate supported and attached to the transportation bill. So the House sent the Senate a short term extension, funding transportation through October 29th, 2015. This means the debate will begin again within a few weeks. One very positive note in this effort is that both Senators Peters and Stabenow signed on to the Wicker-Booker amendment, which would have sent more money directly to locals. We’re hopeful the significant support that was displayed on that amendment will translate into inclusion during the next round of bill drafting. And we are thankful to our Senators for their support of local governments!

Summer Minnick is the Director of External Relations and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Senate Nears Passage of Long Term Federal Highway Bill

The United States Senate worked through the weekend on the six year authorization bill that would be the longest federal transportation bill the nation has seen in decades. But as it nears completion by the upper chamber, the House leadership has stated that they will not take up the Senate bill, and are encouraging the Senate to instead, take up the House passed extension. The House sent over a temporary extension this month which funds federal highway programs through December 18th. The current authorization expired this Friday, July 31st.

Summer Minnick is the Director of External Relations and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

As Federal Transportation Funding Nears Expiration, House and Senate Take Different Paths

The good news is that there has been action on transportation funding in both the House and the Senate this week in DC. The bad news is that they are taking different paths with respect to how to solve the problem with just two weeks remaining before the existing funds expire on July 31st. This week the House passed an $8 Billion extension which would fund federal transportation projects through the end of the year. However, Senate leaders are still working and have stated they intend to produce a six year bill yet next week. That does not leave much time for the two sides to negotiate differences. In addition, the re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank is being thrown into the transportation debate and could complicate the passage of the bill this month.

Summer Minnick is the Director of External Relations and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at sminnick@mml.org or 517-908-0301.

League Highlights Potential Negative Impact of Using General Fund Revenue for Roads

Although the Legislature made little progress this week in finding a solution to fix Michigan’s infrastructure needs, the League was very active in expressing our opposition to significant cuts to the General Fund.

On Monday we delivered a letter signed by the League and eight other organizations (Michigan Fraternal Order of Police, Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Association of Police Organizations, Michigan League for Public Policy, Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union, Michigan Townships Association, Police Officers Association of Michigan and Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan) to all 110 members of the House expressing our serious concerns with using existing General Fund resources to improve Michigan’s infrastructure. A copy of the letter can be found at the following link. Final GF Concern Letter to Legislators

In addition to the letter the League requested much respected non-partisan former House Fiscal Agency Director Mitch Bean to look at the implications of SB 414.

Key findings in Bean’s report:

  • The state’s General Fund has declined 1.8 percent since FY 2001, and adjusted for inflation has declined 23 percent. No state in the nation has cut its budget more than Michigan over that period.
  • The state already faces revenue pressure from several tax changes scheduled to take effect in FY 2017-18, when SB 414 would take full effect.
  • Additional general fund spending pressures are also expected, given federal policy changes that will require more state support for basic human services.
  • If SB 414, as passed by the Senate becomes law, the likely impact on the FY 2017-18 General Fund (GF/GP) budget would be $450 million to $550 million in GF/GP budget cuts.
  • The state would have to cut between 11 percent and 13 percent from each department line item if they were able to reduce health and human services, and corrections spending, the two largest items in the GF budget, by a combined $100 million.

The report and a memo from the League was provided to every Legislator, the Governor, and the Capital Press Core. A copy of the memo and report can be found at the following link. Report for Legislators

The League will continue to work hard to ensure our voice is heard on the potential long-term negative impacts this proposal could have on our communities. We will continue to update you on the advancement of this proposal and how you can engage members of the Legislature in the coming weeks.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

Transportation Asset Management Council Policy for Collection on Roadway Condition Data on (Paved) Non-Federal Aid Eligible Roads and Streets

Since 2009, the Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) has been working with local road agencies to collect PASER data on the paved non-federal aid system. In 2009, the TAMC began a policy to annually budget to reimburse agencies for data collection of PASER data on up to one third of the State’s paved non-federal aid road system. Many local road agencies have taken part in this reimbursement program to the extent funds allowed. The TAMC is also aware of many local road agencies that periodically collect PASER data on the paved non-federal aid system without reimbursement from the TAMC.

The TAMC would like to request submission of paved non-federal aid PASER data that agencies may have collected for their own purposes. If a local road agency is currently collecting paved non-federal aid PASER data without TAMC reimbursement; the TAMC would like to kindly request submission of that data annually. Your submission of paved non-federal aid data, with or without reimbursement, allows the TAMC to have a better indication as to the status of the State’s paved non-federal aid road system. Data submitted before December 15th of each year can be included in the TAMC Annual Report.

For more information please click the following link. TAMC – Paved Non-Federal Aid

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Redevelopment Ready Communities Program 2015 Training Schedule Set

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) program has set the training schedule for the 2015 calendar year (See flyer: RRC Best Practice Training Series (2)). Each participant will learn about RRCs Best Practices 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 depending on which date (s) is registered for.  Participants will receive detailed information, examples and implementation steps from experts in each of these RRC Best Practices.

Participants who attend all six training sessions will receive a certificate of completion for the training series, which will signal that the community is taking proactive steps towards being Redevelopment Ready.

The training sessions are being held at the League’s Lansing Office.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues for the League.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.  

Contact Your Member of Congress on New E-Fairness Legislation

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has introduced a bill to modernize our nation’s outdated sales tax collection process. The League has already sent a letter to our Michigan congressional delegation asking them to support this bill, and we need you to do the same!
The Remote Transactions Parity Act (H.R. 2775) would close the online sales tax loophole and level the playing field for the businesses that help build your community.
Take two minutes now to click this link and send the National League of Cities’ pre-written message to let your representative know how important this issue is to you. The letter is already drafted – all you need to do is fill out your name and address. Please help us send a message to our Representatives that the time for sales tax parity is now!

Summer Minnick is the Director of External Relations and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org. 

Senate Passes Road Plan with $700 million in Unspecified General Fund Cuts

Last night the Senate voted out a road funding plan that could ultimately raise $1.5 billion for roads, with two of the main pieces of legislation in the plan coming to a tie on the chamber floor.

The plan generates roughly $822 million by increasing the gas tax 15 cents and $700 million from unspecified General Fund budget cuts.

Eight bills — SB 0414, HB 4610, HB 4611, HB 4612, HB 4613, HB 4614, HB 4615 and HB 4616 — were passed through the Senate, but two of the main pieces of legislation were only moved after Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY broke the tie.

Under HB 4615, the gas tax would go up 19 cents to 23 cents on Oct. 1, 2015; to 27 cents on Jan. 1, 2016, and 34 cents on Jan. 1, 2017, raising $475 million more for the roads in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, $733 million in FY 2017 and $822.1 million in FY 2018, according the Senate Fiscal Agency (SFA).

The also also creates a lock box directing seven cents of the 15-cent gas tax increase to a fund controlled by the Department of Treasury that could only be spent after approval is given by joint resolutions of the House and Senate.

Under SB 414, a $350 million General Fund allocation would be made toward roads in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 and a $700 million special roads allocation that would take place going forward until FY 2033.

The bill also includes a mechanism that would roll back the state’s income tax if General Fund revenue exceeds the rate of inflation. Every .1 percent that is rolled back from the state’s 4.25 percent income tax would equate to an additional $230 million reduction in the the state’s General Fund.

HB 4613 would require warranties, where possible, on all road projects over one million dollars. Additionally, this bill contain 23 new reporting requirements that local units of government must provide to MDOT.

The bottom line is that this plan does not provide a long-term sustainable solution to address Michigan’s deteriorating infrastructure. Additional earmarks from the General Fund and only allowing the General Fund to grow by inflation could severely affect the ability of the state to prioritize investment in communities that desperately need it. It could result in future cuts to revenue sharing, K-12, higher education, community colleges, economic development, PILT, fire protection grants, or state police.

The League will be working hard to ensure our voice is heard on the potential long-term negative impacts this proposal could have on our communities. We will continue to update you on the advancement of this proposal and how you can engage members of the Legislature in the coming days.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

Senate Republican’s Release Road Funding Plan, Vote It Out of Committee

A fire truck makes an emergency run over crumbling roads in Macomb County.

A fire truck makes an emergency run over crumbling roads in Macomb County.

Late yesterday afternoon the Senate Republican’s released their road funding plan and immediately voted it out of committee on a party line vote. The plan consists of a mix of new revenue and rededicating General Fund money for a total of approximately $1.5 billion in funding for roads and bridges when fully implemented.

Beginning October 1, 2015, this plan would increase the gas tax by 5 cents. It would increase an additional 5 cents on January 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017, for a total of a 15 cent increase. Tax rates on diesel would be adjusted so they are equal to the tax paid on gas by the end of that three year period. Beginning in 2018 gas and diesel taxes would be tied to inflation. This will generate roughly $820 million in new road dollars that will flow through the full Act 51 funding formula, providing an increase to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund which supports public transportation, rail, and ports. Beginning in 2033 the gas tax would be eliminated.

The plan earmarks $350 million of existing income tax revenue in 2016 and $700 million each year from 2017 to 2032 solely for roads and bridges. These redirected dollars would circumvent the full Act 51 formula, bypassing the Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTF).

State General Fund spending would be capped at current spending levels and only allowed to grow by the rate of inflation. Any growth over inflation will result in a reduction to the income tax rate by the same amount. There is no identified floor on the rollback so hypothetically income taxes could be rolled all the way back to zero.

Similar to the House plan this proposal would eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit, require competitive bidding on all MDOT and local road projects over $100,000, require MDOT and local road agencies to secure warranties for projects over $1 million, and allow townships contributing greater than 50% to a road project over $50,000 to require competitive bidding. MDOT must also create a 50 Year Roads Task Force where their goal will be find a way to build roads that last at least 50 years and to be able to build them for half the cost.

The bottom line is that this plan does not provide a long-term sustainable solution to address Michigan’s deteriorating infrastructure. Additional earmarks from the General Fund and only allowing the General Fund to grow by inflation could severely affect the ability of the state to prioritize investment in communities that desperately need it. It could result in future cuts to revenue sharing, K-12, higher education, community colleges, economic development, PILT, fire protection grants, or state police.

We would encourage all of our members to reach out to their State Senator and explain that we are thankful that this proposal has new revenue included but this proposal will severely limit the flexibility of the state’s General Fund. The lack of flexibility could have a long-term negative affect on communities. Please ask that they do not pass this legislation this without significant changes that will protect the state’s ability to invest much needed resources into communities.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

E-Fairness Legislation Introduced in US House

This week, Rep Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced a new E-Fairness bill, which would bring online sales tax parity to retail transactions and help states generate significant sales tax revenues which are currently going uncollected without federal action. The bill is called the Remote Transactions Parity Act (H.R. 2775) and has bipartisan co-sponsors – including Michigan Rep. John Conyers (D-13). You may recall that legislation passed the Senate last session but failed to pass the House by the end of the year, requiring the introduction of a new set of bills. The League is hopeful that this momentum will help us see this legislation become law sometime soon.

Summer Minnick is the Director of External Relations and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at sminnick@mml.org or 517-908-0301.