Comprehensive Transportation Solution Relies on Passage of Ballot Proposal

After a marathon final day of lame duck the House and the Senate were able to successfully put together the framework for a comprehensive long-term solution for investing in Michigan’s infrastructure. Although we would have liked the legislature to solve this problem independently, they approved a ballot proposal that will be put before the voters in May of 2015. This ballot proposal along with other statutory changes represents real investment in core areas that are critical to Michigan’s long term success. Below are the highlights of the transportation funding package.

Ballot Proposal:
– Raises sales and use tax from 6% to 7%
– Eliminates the sales tax on motor fuel
– Removes Higher Education from the School Aid Fund
– Amends the use tax distribution

Statutory Changes (Effective only if the ballot proposal passes):
– Switch to a percentage based wholesale tax on motor fuel and increase
– Increase the percentage based wholesale tax
– Changes to registration fees for vehicles and heavy trucks
– Transportation related reforms for warranties and competitive bidding on road projects
– Restore the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
– Sales tax on internet sales (Main Street Fairness)

Net Impact of Changes in FY 2017-18
– $1.2 Billion in new revenue for roads
– $107 Million in new revenue for the Comprehensive Transportation fund for transit and rail
– $118 Million in new revenue for constitutional revenue sharing
– $394 Million in new revenue for the School Aid Fund
– $260 million in tax relief

A more detailed analysis will follow as additional information becomes available.

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

Legislation Allowing Golf Carts on Local Roads Sent to the Governor

HB 5045 which allows golf carts on local roads sent to the Governor. This bill would allow a local unit of government to pass an ordinance that would allow golf carts on roads under their jurisdiction. The following requirements must be met.

    • Must have a population less that 30,000
    • The operator must be at least 16 years of age and have a valid drivers license
    • The golf cart must be operated on the far right side of the roadway
    • You can only operate the golf cart between a half hour after sunrise and a half hour before sunset
    • Drivers must use hand signals to indicate turning and stopping

The golf cart cannot exceed 15 mph and can not operate on a road with a speed limit of more than 30 mph

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

Transportation Funding Bills Sent to Conference

In the second to last week of lame duck session, tensions were high as transportation talks continued. The House and Senate sent the transportation bills to conference committees where a small bi-partisan group of six legislators will ultimately vote on the conference report being negotiated by legislative leadership and the Governor. The conferees in the Senate are Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-Holland), Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake) and Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint). The House conferees are Rep. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), Rep. Rob VerHeulen (R-Walker) and Rep. Marilyn Lane (D-Fraser). The legislative leadership and Governor have met for several hours in each of the last few days on this issue, and we anticipate some sort of resolution next week.

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

League Needs Your Help on Transportation Issue This Week

The League supports a comprehensive transportation-funding solution that supports all forms of transportation, not just roads.

The League supports a comprehensive transportation-funding solution that supports all forms of transportation, not just roads.

This week is likely to be very busy in Lansing when it comes to transportation funding and the League will need your help. Many of you have already contacted your lawmakers on this issue in recent days, but we need you to keep the pressure on. Stay tuned to our Inside 208 blog for the most up-to-date information and calls to action.

Here is what we know as of today:

  1. There are two transportation funding plans being considered. One is the Senate-approved plan that the League supports because it provides additional funding for our complete transportation system. The second is the House-approved plan that the League opposes because it would shift dollars away from local governments, schools, transit and the general fund into roads. The House plan relies on projected increases in economic growth to make up for lost revenue, which simply isn’t reliable.
  2. A new transportation funding vote could take place in the Senate this week.
  3. The League will oppose any plan that puts funding to municipalities at risk.

Here is what the League would like you to do this week:

  1. Contact you state senators asking them to reject the House transportation plan and pass the transportation-funding solution approved by the Senate on Nov. 13. GO HERE to our Action Center to get their contact information and send a sample email that we’ve prepared for you. Talking points for your state senators: A. We need to fix the roads and our transportation system without hurting local governments, schools and public transit. B. We stand behind Governor Snyder and his desire to solve this road-funding problem with new revenue. Taking money from others is not the right solution. C. The Legislature should not solve the road funding problem by reducing revenue sharing and relying on “projected economic growth” forecasts to make up for lost revenue. This is a risk we cannot afford.
  2. Contact your state representatives to express your opposition to the House-approved plan. Ask them to oppose any transportation-funding plan that is potentially harmful financially to municipalities, schools and public transit. Feel free to thank those representatives who voted against the House-plan. And for those who voted for the House-plan ask them why they are willing to put at risk funding to schools, municipalities and public transit? Below is a list of how the representatives voted on this short-sighted and irresponsible House plan.
  3. League Board Member Nathan Triplett (right) on Fox 2 Detroit's Let It Rip.

    League Board Member Nathan Triplett (right) on Fox 2 Detroit’s Let It Rip.

    To help craft your responses, check out a recent interview League Board Vice President and East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett did on Fox 2 Detroit. On the “Let It Rip” program with Rep. Anthony Forlini, Triplett did an excellent job discussing why the Senate proposal is best, how the House plan would hurt communities, schools and transit, and why additional revenue is needed to support a comprehensive transportation plan. To hear Triplett’s responses to hard-hitting questions, watch segment 1 and segment 2 from the show.

How representatives voted on the House plan (info from this Detroit Free Press article):

House Bill 4539 — removes the 6% sales tax on fuel sales over a six-year phase-in. It passed 56-53

Voting yes: Jase Bolger, R-Marshall; John Bumstead, R-Newaygo; Mike Callton, R-Nashville; Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant; Hugh Crawford, R-Novi; Kevin Daley, R-Attica; Cindy Denby; R-Fowlerville; Jeff Farrington, R-Utica; Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Townshiip; Frank Foster, R-Pellston; Ray Franz, R-Onekama; Ben Glardon, R-Owosso; Ken Goike, R-Ray Township; Joseph Graves, R-Argentine Township; Gail Haines, R-Waterford; Joe Haveman, R-Holland; Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth; Tom Hooker, R-Byron Center; Martin Howrylak, R-Troy; Bradford Jacobsen, R-Oxford; Nancy Jenkins, R-Clayton; Joel Johnson, R-Clare; Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw; Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township; Eileen Kowall, R-White Lake; Kenneth Kurtz, R-Coldwater;Andrea LaFontaine, R-Richmond; Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway; Tom Leonard, R-Lansing; Matt Lori, R-Constantine; Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township; Lisa Lyons, R-Alto; Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford; Greg MacMaster, R-Kewadin; Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan; Michael McCready, R-Birmingham; Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills; Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton; Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage; Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes; Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle; Earl Poleski, R-Jackson; Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac; Amanda Price, R-Holland; Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville; Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City; Bill Rogers, R-Brighton; Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City; Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake; Pat Somerville, R-New Boston; Jim Stamas, R-Midland; Robert VerHeulen, R-Walker; Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville; John Walsh, R-Livonia; Ken Yonker, R-Caledonia; Dale Zorn, R-Ida.

Voting no: Theresa Abed, D-Grand Ledge; Brian Banks, D-Grosse Pointe Woods; Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills; Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids; Terry Brown, D-Pigeon; Charles Brunner, D-Bay City; Phil Cavanagh, D-Redford Township; Paul Clemente, D-Lincoln Park; Tom Cochran, D-Mason; George Darany, D-Dearborn; Scott Dianda, D-Calumet; Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids; Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline; Fred Durhal, D-Detroit; Pam Faris, D-Clio; Douglas Geiss, D-Taylor; Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck; Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills; Harold Haugh, D-Roseville; Rudy Hobbs, D-Lathrup Village; Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon; Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor; Andrew Kandrevas, D-Southgate; John Kivela, D-Marquette; David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights; Robert Kosowski, D-Westland; Collene Lamonte, D-Montague; Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser; Bill LaVoy, D-Monroe; Ellen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods; Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo; Paul Muxlow, R-Brown City; David Nathan, D-Detroit; Stacy Oakes, D-Saginaw; Dave Pagel, R-Berrien Springs; Phil Phelps, D-Flint; Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores; Rose Robinson, D-Detroit; David Rutledge, D-Ypsilanti; Harvey Santana, D-Detroit; Andy Schor, D-Lansing; Kate Segal, D-Battle Creek; Sam Singh, D-East Lansing; Dian Slavens, D-Canton Township; Charles Smiley, D-Burton; Thomas Stallworth, D-Detroit; Woodrow Stanley; D-Flint; Jon Switalski, D-Warren; Alberta Talabi, D-Detroit; Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit; Jim Townsend, D-Royal Oak; Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights; Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor.

Not voting: John Olumba, I-Detroit.

For questions on this transportation-funding issue, contact at the League’s John LaMacchia II at (517) 908-0303 or jlamacchia@mml.org.

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

Speaker Bolger Road Funding Plan Voted Out of the House

House Speaker Jase Bolger’s (R-Marshall) transportation funding plan, which would shift dollars that currently go to local governments, schools, transit, and the general fund to roads, was voted out of the House without a single democratic vote.

The plan relies on projected revenue increases, which supporters say will more than counter-balance the revenue shift. In an attempt to keep local funding at current levels, language was added to the bill that says if state spending on local governments falls below the previous year, the sales tax phase-out would be repealed. The League has very serious concerns and is continuing to express its strong opposition to this plan. Holding communities harmless and not allowing them to benefit from a growing economy by shifting money over to road funding is not the comprehensive solution for which the League is advocating.

Members voted 56-53 for HB 4539, which would phase out the sales tax on gasoline over six years. The bill would remove 1 percent of the 6 percent sales tax each year from 2016 to 2020. HB 5477 would gradually increase the state’s gasoline tax to balance out the drop in the sales tax over that same time period. Eventually, the sales tax on gas would be 0 percent and the state’s new wholesale gasoline tax would be 13.5 percent, resulting in a $1.1 billion increase in Act 51 allocation. This plan also results in a $48 million cut to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTF), which funds public transit, by 2020.

Additionally, all new transportation revenue generated under the plan would go to only the State Trunk Line Fund, counties, cities and villages. The CTF would lose out on another $97 million in new revenue by not allocating the money to the full Act 51 formula. At a time when we should be investing in public transit in Michigan as a way to attract and retain talent, this plan significantly reduces the current investment in public transit.

For the fiscal analysis please click here.

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

League Distributes Letters to the Editor in Support of Transportation Funding Package

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

The Michigan Municipal League sent to the media this week a series of letters to the editor to encourage the state House to approve the transportation funding package passed in the Senate on Nov. 13. The House is considering a couple different transportation funding options and we want the state Representatives to show the same courage as the Senate and pass the comprehensive funding plan that includes HB 5477. Governor Snyder also supports this plan.

The letters were co-penned by people you might not normally see working together, but they’ve found common ground when it comes to getting additional funding to fix Michigan’s failing infrastructure. The letters maintained that increased funding is needed to all forms of transportation (roads, rails, trails, bridges, harbors, non-motorized facilities, and public transit) in order to help build communities where people want to live, work and play.

For example, we sent a letter jointly authored by East Lansing Mayor and MSU alum Nathan Triplett, vice president of the League board; and Ann Arbor Mayor and UM alum Christopher Taylor. The letter starts out with, “As mayors of East Lansing and Ann Arbor, when it comes to college sports there isn’t a whole lot we agree on. But when it comes to the pressing need for increased investment in our state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, we are in total agreement: the time for legislative action is now.”

Other letters were written by the presidents of the Michigan Municipal League Board (Wakefield Mayor Pro Tem Dick Bolen) and Michigan Townships Association Board (Arcada Township Supervisor Doug Merchant); and the mayors of two Michigan cities that are more than 640 driving miles apart – Ironwood’s Kim Corcoran, a member of the League board, and Luna Pier’s David Davison.

We are already getting some traction in the media from the letters so stay tuned to mml.org for links and information about that as it happens. Check out the letter by Triplett and Taylor in the Lansing City Pulse and the letter by Corcoran and Davison in the Battle Creek Enquirer, the Macomb Daily Tribune and the Detroit News.

We’re also encouraging our members to contact their state Reps this week to ask them to approve the package passed in the Senate. You can go here to our Action Center to look up your Reps’ contact information and send them a sample email we’ve prepared for you.

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

 

Reach Out! Encourage House Members to Vote Yes on the Senate Passed Transportation Funding Package

On Tuesday (11/25) Speaker of the House, Jase Bolger, put forward a new transportation funding plan. The plan would remove the 6% sales tax now charged on fuel sales (at 1% per year), while at the same time converting the 19-cent-per-gallon fuel tax to a percentage rate that would gradually increase over the same period. The result would be an extra $1 billion a year in revenue that would be devoted to roads. The plan does not provide for a replacement for the lost sales tax revenue that goes to local government and schools ($75M for constitutional revenue sharing alone). The Speaker theorizes that sales tax revenue is projected to grow by more than $200 million annually because of economic growth in Michigan, meaning schools and local governments would not be hurt by the gradual removal of the 6% sales tax from gasoline sales.

This plan is significantly different than the package of bills passed by the Senate that would increase transportation funding by nearly $1.5 billion over the next four years and is currently awaiting a vote in the House. Please consider reaching out to your Representative and ask them to support the transportation funding plan passed by the Senate. The message to your state Representative is simple:

  • Vote yes on the Senate passed transportation funding package.
  • We need a real increase in funds for roads, bridges and transit and we will not support any plan that would jeopardize local revenue.
  • Pass the increase approved by the Senate and we in local government will support your vote!

Please click on the following link for more information on the Senate plan and a breakdown of the increase in revenue each municipality would receive from HB 5477, which brings in the bulk of the new revenue by increasing the gas tax incrementally over 4 years. Transportation Package Information Sheet

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

Michigan Senate Votes for New Funding for Transportation!

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

In a huge vote, the Michigan Senate has just passed HB 5477, a bill that would phase in a new percentage-based gasoline tax that will result in an additional $1.2 billion for transportation funding by 2019. Revenue from other bills in this package result in transportation increases as high as $1.5 billion annually once fully phased in.

The bill would replace the current cents per gallon structure, which is 19 cents per gallon on gasoline and 15 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. Under the bill, the percentage tax on gas would start at 9.5 percent as of April 1, 2015. It would increase to 11.5 percent on January 1, 2016; to 13.5 percent on January 1, 2017; and to 15.5 percent on January 1, 2018.

Thank you to all of our members who reached out to their Senator asking them to support this important legislation. The bill will now need to be approved by the House. Our advocacy efforts cannot end here. We encourage you to immediately begin reaching out to your House member and ask them to vote yes on House Bill 5477 as approved by the Senate.

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

Contact Michigan Senators Today to Urge Their Support of Transportation Funding Increase

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

There are many transit options in Michigan and a complete transportation funding program would support all of them.

Discussions are currently taking place in Lansing on finding a way to raise new revenue for Michigan’s transportation network during the current lame duck legislative session.

House Bill 5477 is a key piece to this new revenue.

It would switch the current cents per gallon tax on fuel to a percentage based tax on the wholesale price and gradually increase that percentage over the next several years.

The proposed funding solution is a nine-bill package that would provide yearly increases to transportation funding and would reach $1.5 billion in new annual revenue by 2020.

Legislators have an incredible opportunity to solve Michigan’s transportation needs and develop a comprehensive solution for investing in Michigan’s infrastructure.

Michigan can no longer wait for a comprehensive transportation funding plan.

Michigan can no longer wait for a comprehensive transportation funding plan.

This plan would not only invest in roads and bridges, but would provide additional funds for public transit, trails, ports, and rail. Download the Michigan Can’t Wait flyer.

The Senate could take this up for a vote as soon as Thursday (Nov. 13, 2014) and we need your help. Please contact your Senator and let them know that you are supportive of increasing transportation revenue and the positive impact it will have on your community. We are on the verge transforming our transportation system and you can help ensure its successful passage.

To make it as easy as possible for you, we’ve drafted a sample email that you can edit and send to your senators.

To access this tool, go to our action center here and click on the item in the blue Action Alert! box.

A comprehensive transportation funding system is one of the four key parts of the Michigan Municipal League’s Partnership for Place initiative released in 2013. Read more about why this is important here.

This blog post was by John LaMacchia II, legislative associate for the Michigan Municipal League. John can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org and 517-908-0303.

Changes to MDOT Annual Certification of Employee-Related Conditions Signed by the Governor

Senate Bill 882 has been signed by the Governor and is now Public Act 301 of 2014. This has been a long process and the Michigan Municipal League would like to thank all of those have helped with the passage of this bill. They include Senator Casperson and his staff, Representative Schmidt, Representative Kosowski, policy staff, MDOT, Munetrix, and most importantly our members for all of the outreach they did on this issue.

The final version of this bill eliminates the requirement for cities and villages to post their current fiscal budget, list the number of transportation employees, and create an additional dashboard. It pushes the implementation date back to September 30, 2015 and maintains the requirement to certify with the department that you are in compliance with PA 152. It also requires that communities inform MDOT if they have opted out of PA 152. If you fail to send in your certification form to the department they may withhold your Act 51 funding.

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