Committee Hearings Begin on House Transportation Proposal

The newly formed Roads and Economic Development committee held the first of three committee hearings this morning on a package of bills introduced by House Republicans to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads.

HB 4610 allows townships contributing greater than 50% to a road project over $50,000 to require competitive bidding and the League has no position on this legislation due to it having no direct impact on our communities.

HB 4611 would require competitive bidding on all MDOT and local road projects over $100,000, and HB 4613 would require MDOT and local road agencies to secure warranties for projects over $1 million. We are currently opposed to these two bills as part of this package. The League believes we must find a sustainable long-term solution to the problem that includes new revenue that is dedicated to the entire transportation system.

The proposed package of bills only has $50 million in new revenue with the remaining billion coming from reprioritizing General Fund spending and projected growth. It neglects to make a much need investment in transit and jeopardizes economic development funding many of our communities benefit from. This plan impacts the long-term certainty our communities need to plan and one of the key factors for our opposition.

The League is committed to working with the legislature towards a long term solution and we are hopeful that solution can found sooner rather than later.

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.

 

Speaker Cotter Unveils House Republican Transportation Solutions

At a press conference this afternoon Speaker Kevin Cotter released the House Republican transportation plan. The highlights are below.

  • This plan will generate $1.05 billion for transportation
  • $700 million from the General Fund
  • $185 million from Reprioritizing Restricted Funds
  • $162 million from Tax Fairness
  • Reforms and Efficiencies

General Fund: The $700 million the Speaker is proposing will come from expected future growth in revenues and additional anticipated revenue available based on the upcoming Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. This portion of the plan lacked specifics so it is yet to be determined what impact this would have on the state budget moving forward but the Speaker said he would be able to do this without making cuts.

Reprioritizing Restricted Funds: Of the $185 million, $75 million will come from tobacco settlement dollars currently in the 21st Century Jobs Fund, $60 million from the states tribal gaming compact, and $50 million from eliminating the film tax credit.

Tax Fairness: The Speaker will achieve the projected $162 million through the creation of tax fairness by eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit and using that $117 million for roads. The remaining $45 million will come from diesel parody and increased fees on electric and hybrid vehicles.

Reforms and Efficiencies: The plan will 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.

Other highlights in this plan include a phase in over four year with $522 million going to roads in FY 16, $697 million in FY 17, $872 million in FY 18, $1.05 billion in FY 19 and beyond. All of the new money would only be sent to MDOT, Counties, and Cities and Villages. None of the new money would go to transit operations. The current gas tax will remain at 19 cents but would be tied to inflation under this plan. A copy of the document Speaker Cotter provided can be found at the following link. House Republican Road Funding Plan

As the League gathers more details on this plan in the coming days we will be sure to update you with any new information.

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.

Local Election Results Show Voters Support Essential Local Services, Better Communities

A road crew fills potholes in Macomb County.

A road crew fills potholes in Macomb County.

(Go here to view the League’s statement on the defeat of Proposal 1)

Not to be lost in the overwhelming defeat of Proposal 1 last night, is the success of a majority of local ballot questions that also went before voters in Tuesday’s election. The results show voters are willing to support essential services that contribute to a community’s vibrancy.

According to MIRS news service, of the more than 200 questions on local ballots statewide nearly 70 percent were approved. In particular, voters approved nearly 70 percent of the school-related ballot proposals and 78 percent of the proposal dealing with police, fire and emergency services.

View a spreadsheet on the MIRS report here. View the subscription-only MIRS article on the local election results here under the headline “Local Road Proposal Approvals Go 50%, New Money Asks for Roads 21%”.

The local election results also are consistent with the findings of an EPIC-MRA survey co-commissioned by the League. The poll, which you can view here, found that a majority of voters who opposed the Proposal 1 ballot question want the Legislature to get back to work and pass a plan that fixes roads with new revenues. The poll shows that voters did not want major cuts to essential services that make our communities strong and liveable – namely schools, communities and police and fire protection.

Here are some key findings in the EPIC-MRA poll:

  • A strong majority of voters want the Legislature to get back to work now and fix the roads;
  • They are willing to support higher taxes as long as they money goes only to transportation, and they oppose major cuts to K-12 education, higher education, revenue sharing and healthcare to find the money to fix the roads;
  • 64 percent polled “strongly favor” or “somewhat favor” a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax to fix the roads, as long as the new revenue from the penny increase is guaranteed in the constitution for roads, bridges and transportation;
  • 88 percent oppose “major cuts” to K-12 education to pay for roads;
  • 76 percent oppose “major cuts” in revenue sharing for local communities;
  • 63 percent opposed “major cuts” to universities and community colleges;
  • 85 percent support the Legislature working all summer to pass a new roads plan.

The poll also found that the Legislature’s job approval rate sunk to just 27 percent (with only 1 percent giving the Legislature an “excellent” rating). That’s reflected in the constant complaint we’ve heard that the Legislature should have come up with a road solution itself instead of sending it to the voters.

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.

Of note, the poll found that Governor Snyder’s approval rating is an all-time high – 52 percent positive job approval. The Governor has been an exceptionally strong leader on fixing our roads and the League was especially pleased with his statement issued following Proposal 1’s defeat last night. The statement, with the subheadline, “A plan must improve roads without hurting schools, communities,” explains that fixing the roads remains a top priority for the governor and that a new solution should be one that gives “Michigan residents the safe roads they need and deserve and helps our growing economy.”

The League pledges to continue working with governor and the Legislature on a new plan that will fix our roads and bridges while protecting those services essential to Michigan’s families, communities and economy. Like Michigan voters, we do not believe the state can cut our way to prosperity.

There will be much debate in Lansing in the coming days, weeks and possibly months over the next step to fixing our roads. Please stay tuned to this Inside 208 legislative blog for the latest developments. We may also call on you as various plans surface and gain momentum. So please be ready to contact your lawmakers when asked.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org and (734) 669-6317.

Voting Yes Tuesday on Proposal 1 is Right Thing for Michigan’s Roads, Communities, Schools

Sterling Heights City Manager and MML board member Mark Vanderpool speaks at a Proposal 1 Safe Roads Yes! tour bus stop in Romeo. The League appreciates all the support it has received from members on Proposal 1.

Sterling Heights City Manager and MML board member Mark Vanderpool speaks at a Proposal 1 Safe Roads Yes! tour bus stop in Romeo with Governor Rick Snyder and MDOT Director Kirk Steudle. The League appreciates all the support it has received from members on Proposal 1.

The fate of Proposal 1 goes in the hands of voters tomorrow (Tuesday, May 5, 2015) and the Michigan Municipal League strongly encourages you to vote yes on this road-funding plan.

The League Board of Trustees in January officially endorsed Proposal 1 and the League has been actively supporting it ever since. League staff and members have participated in numerous community meetings, town hall events, public forums, debates and city council sessions to promote Proposal 1. Staff and members also were involved in the Vote Yes on Proposal 1 bus tour Thursday, Friday and today. In addition, we’ve encouraged communities to pass resolutions in support and you can view that list here.

Our message throughout the campaign has been the same: That this proposal is in the best interest of communities throughout Michigan and will improve our ability to attract and retain talent.

The League’s John LaMacchia, who has been leading our Vote Yes efforts, said this at a recent Proposal 1 event: “Michigan now spends less per resident on roads than any other state. Let me say that again: Michigan is now dead last in per-capita funding for roads. We’ve neglected to properly invest in our roads and bridges and everywhere you travel in this state you can see the repercussions of that. This proposal will constitutionally guarantees that every penny we pay in state fuel taxes goes to transportation while protecting funding for local governments and schools. This proposal is not perfect … nothing from Lansing ever is. But it does provide a long-term sustainable solution that will fix our roads, and the only guarantee we will have on May 5th if this fails is that our roads will get worse. Vote Yes!”

Here are some details about Proposal 1:

Ballot Proposal:

  • Raises the sales tax from 6% to 7%
  • Exempts sales tax from motor fuel
  • Removes higher education funding from the School Aid Fund
  • Dedicates a portion of the use tax to K-12 education

Statutory Changes Effective Only if Proposal 1 Passes:

  • Increases the tax charged on motor fuel
  • Eliminates the depreciation on vehicle registration fees
  • Increase registration fees on the heaviest trucks
  • Requires more competitive bidding and road warranties
  • Restores the Earned Income Tax Credit to 20% of the federal level

Revenue Generated:

League members - Lapeer City Manager Dale Kerbyson and Lapeer City Commissioner and MML Board member Catherine Bostick-Tullius - talk with Governor Snyder at a Proposal 1 bus tour stop near Davison.

League members – Lapeer City Manager Dale Kerbyson and Lapeer City Commissioner and MML Board member Catherine Bostick-Tullius – talk with Governor Snyder at a Vote Yes on Proposal 1 bus tour stop near Davison.

Fixing our roads will make them safer by repairing dangerous potholes and improving roadway design. Today, many drivers swerve to avoid dangerous potholes or lose control of their vehicles as a result of flat tires.

According to TRIP, a national transportation research organization, roadway design is a contributing factor in about one-third of fatal traffic crashes. Between 2008 and 2012, 4,620 people died in Michigan car accidents – an average of 924 fatalities per year.

For more information about Proposal 1 go to the League’s Safe Roads Yes! webpage.

To learn more about the Safe Road Yes! campaign go here. View here a series of question and answer videos about Proposal 1. Check out what MML members have to say about Proposal 1. See how much your community will get in additional road dollars and constitutional revenue sharing if Proposal 1 is approved. View which Michigan communities have passed resolutions in support of Proposal 1.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org. The League’s John LaMacchia can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org.

Save the Date for the 3rd Annual Michigan Rail Conference

Save the date for the 3rd Annual Michigan Rail Conference!

This year’s event will be held in Grand Rapids at the Grand Valley State University Eberhard Center on August 19 & 20. The program includes plenary sessions in the morning filled with presentations related to freight & passenger rail activities in Michigan. The afternoon will feature breakout sessions that could include rail project development in the past year; equipment and rolling stock development; education/labor needs/workforce development; government regulation; and shipper’s needs. National, regional, and local rail experts will be on hand to offer their insight and comments. The final program will be posted on the Michigan Tech University website by mid-May; and contacts regarding general questions or registration are included on the flyer. MI Rail Conference-Save the date

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.

Proposal 1 Offers Michigan’s Last, Best Chance to Fix Roads with Guaranteed Funding

John LaMacchia discusses Proposal 1 at a recent Burton City Council town hall meeting.

John LaMacchia discusses Proposal 1 at a recent Burton City Council town hall meeting.

The fate of Proposal 1 will be decided by voters next week (Tuesday, May 5), and there is one thing guaranteed about the outcome: If it passes it will provide a solution to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure and will guarantee funding for transportation, local government, schools. And if it fails? No one can guarantee a solution out of the state Legislature.

That’s the simple message from the Michigan Municipal League’s John LaMacchia, legislative associate, in his many speaking engagements, media interviews and community meetings about Proposal 1 in recent days, weeks and months. LaMacchia has been the League’s voice on Proposal 1 after the League board unanimously endorsed the road funding package in January.

“The one thing that those for and against Proposal 1 agree on is the longer we take to come up with a transportation funding plan, the worse are roads are going to get,” LaMacchia said.

If Proposal 1 passes, it would guarantee, for the first time, that every penny we pay in state fuel taxes goes to transportation.

Bad-bridge-small-for-webLansing would no longer be able to divert taxes paid on gas to some other state program or service.

Here is some additional information about what Proposal 1 would do:

Ballot Proposal:

  • Raises the sales tax from 6% to 7%
  • Exempts sales tax from motor fuel
  • Removes higher education funding from the School Aid Fund
  • Dedicates a portion of the use tax to K-12 education

Statutory Changes Effective Only if Proposal 1 Passes:

  • Increases the tax charged on motor fuel
  • Eliminates the depreciation on vehicle registration fees
  • Increase registration fees on the heaviest trucks
  • Requires more competitive bidding and road warranties
  • Restores the Earned Income Tax Credit to 20% of the federal level

Revenue Generated:

We would fix more roads instead of just fill potholes if Proposal 1 passes May 5.

We would fix more roads instead of just fill potholes if Proposal 1 passes May 5.

Fixing our roads will make them safer by repairing dangerous potholes and improving roadway design. Today, many drivers swerve to avoid dangerous potholes or lose control of their vehicles as a result of flat tires.

According to TRIP, a national transportation research organization, roadway design is a contributing factor in about one-third of fatal traffic crashes. Between 2008 and 2012, 4,620 people died in Michigan car accidents – an average of 924 fatalities per year.

For more information about Proposal 1 go to the League’s Safe Roads Yes! webpage.

To learn more about the Safe Road Yes! campaign go here. View here a series of question and answer videos about Proposal 1. Check out what MML members have to say about Proposal 1. See how much your community will get in additional road dollars and constitutional revenue sharing if Proposal 1 is approved. View which Michigan communities have passed resolutions in support of Proposal 1.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org. The League’s John LaMacchia can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org.

Is there a Plan B if Proposal 1 Fails? Why are Michigan’s Roads so Bad? Find Out in New League videos

Fowler plan bIt’s just two weeks until voters decide the fate of Proposal 1 on May 5 and the Michigan Municipal League has just posted a series of question and answer videos to address some of the concerns you may have about the road funding plan.

The videos come from a panel discussion during the League’s 2015 Capital Conference that took place in March.

The general session, “Driving Toward Safer Roads with Proposal 1,” was moderated by Roger Martin, of the Martin Waymire public relations firm and spokesman for the Safe Roads Yes! coalition. Panelists were Mike Flanagan, state superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education; Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan; Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell; and Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

View all the League’s Proposal 1 information here, including an updated list of all the Michigan communities that have passed resolutions in support of Proposal 1.

Steudle bad roadsHere are the questions posed and subsequent answers. The videos are all very short:

The League also has a new slide show illustrating how much in new money for roads and constitutional revenue sharing each Michigan community will receive if Proposal 1 passes. The numbers are substantial. It’s a long video but it’s in alphabetical order so you can advance to the parts you want to see. You can also view a pdf of that video here, which will allow you to advance through the list more easily.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org and (734) 669-6317.

MDOT Accepting Transportation Economic Development Fund Category F Applications

The Michigan Department of Transportation Office of Economic Development is currently accepting Transportation Economic Development Fund Category F applications for Fiscal Year 2017. Eligible applicants include cities, villages and county road commissions. Proposed projects must be on federal-aid designated routes within federal aid urban areas located in a county with a population of 400,000 or fewer. Higher consideration is given to applications that propose improving all-season capabilities on routes having high commercial traffic or those that improve access to state trunklines.

The application deadline for Category F grants is Monday June 1, 2015. The application and instructions can be accessed at http://www.michigan.gov/tedf For questions, please contact Matt Wiitala, at 517-241-2152 or wiitalam@michigan.gov.

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.

LaMacchia: ‘Roads Will Only Get Worse'; Vote Yes on Proposal 1 for New Road Funding in Michigan

About 60 people attend a symposium on Proposal 1 Tuesday in Sterling Heights.

About 60 people attend a symposium on Proposal 1 Tuesday in Sterling Heights.

Last night the Michigan Municipal League hosted a “Safe Roads Symposium” on Proposal 1 in Sterling Heights. The event was attended by about 60 people, including multiple officials from the city of Sterling Heights and surrounding communities.

The League’s John LaMacchia, Legislative Associate, was one of several officials who spoke on the issue as part of a panel during the symposium.

Other event panelists were Gilda Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy; Dr. Robert Livernois, Superintendent of Warren Consolidated Schools; Dr. Christine Johns, Superintendent of Utica Community Schools; and Carmine Palombo, Deputy Executive Director of SEMCOG.

During the informative event, LaMacchia gave a brief history of how Proposal 1 came about and why the Michigan Municipal League supports the initiative heading to voters on May 5.

LaMacchia encouraged those attending to vote yes on Proposal 1.

Panelists get ready for the symposium.

Panelists get ready for the symposium.

“Michigan now spends less per resident on roads than any other state. Let me say that again: Michigan is now dead last in per-capita funding for roads. We’ve neglected properly invest in our roads and bridges and everywhere you travel in this state you can see the repercussions of that. This proposal will constitutionally guarantees that every penny we pay in state fuel taxes goes to transportation while protecting funding for local governments and schools. This proposal is not perfect … nothing from Lansing ever is. But it does provide a long-term sustainable solution that will fix our roads, and the only guarantee we will have on May 5th if this fails is that our roads will get worse. Vote Yes!”

For additional information on Proposal 1 go here: http://www.mml.org/advocacy/safe-roads-yes-neutral-info.html.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 734-669-6317 and mbach@mml.org.

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.

 

 

Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets

Secretary Foxx

Secretary Foxx

Anthony Foxx, U.S.Transportation Secretary, is challenging mayors and local elected officials to take significant action to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities over the next year. Mayors’ Challenge participants will be invited to attend the Mayors’ Summit for Safer People, Safer Streets in March, and their cities will spend a year helping their communities undertake seven activities to improve safety. The challenge is based on the 2010 USDOT Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation.

For more information and to sign up for the challenge please click here. Michigan communities already signed up include Ann Arbor, Flint, Jackson, Traverse City and Westland.

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.