Zero Dollars For Michigan Infrastructure? Only If $4 Billion For Transportation Not Counted

State taxpayers paying more than ever for transportation infrastructure

A campaign by road builders and other interests called Fix MI State is conducting a public relations campaign on Facebook by posting memes implying that Michigan has not set aside any money for infrastructure spending.

One reads, “Sick of Michigan’s bad roads? Sewage in our water? Sinkholes? Tell your lawmaker $0 is NOT enough to fix our infrastructure.”

Another asks, “How can we fix our infrastructure with zero dollars in the Michigan Infrastructure Fund?”

Despite the claims, Michigan has and continues to allocate billions of tax dollars to maintain and improve infrastructure. For example, the Michigan Department of Transportation oversees the state’s transportation infrastructure and spends billions every year on maintaining and improving highways, roads, bridges and public transit.

In fact, more state dollars will be raised and spent on Michigan roads and transportation than ever before — $2.74 billion in the current fiscal year, up from $2.05 billion in 2011-12. If local and federal dollars are included, Michigan will spend $4.11 billion this year, up from $3.35 billion in 2011-12. Total spending this year will be higher than in any other year, except for 2009, when the federal stimulus program pumped an extra $1.1 billion windfall into the state road budget.

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Lance Binoniemi, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, said the claim that “$0 is NOT enough to fix our infrastructure” refers to Gov. Rick Snyder’s Michigan Infrastructure Fund.

Snyder established the fund in 2016 and the Legislature appropriated $5 million for it in 2016, Binoniemi said.

“This year, Governor Snyder recommended $20M into the Infrastructure Fund through the General Government budget. The House-passed General Government budget decreased the fund to $5M for fiscal year 2017 / 2018. The Senate General Government budget completely zeroed out the Infrastructure Fund,” Binoniemi said in an email.

Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, said the Michigan Infrastructure Fund was new to the budget and eliminating its appropriation was not an indication of the Senate’s commitment to fund infrastructure.

“The state invests in infrastructure through different sources,” McCann said in an email. “Indeed, MDOT’s funding has increased and the Senate voted to prioritize money for roads and infrastructure through dedication of income tax revenue to roads as well as changes to the state gas tax and registration fees. There is also the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund.”

Although the Michigan Infrastructure Fund may not have much to spend, infrastructure revenue is coming in from many other sources. To cite just two, vehicle registration fees are expected to bring in $1.2 billion for roads this year, and fuel taxes another $1.3 billion.

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Obamacare repeal-and-replace is underway, and regardless of whether it passes or fails big, changes are coming for Michigan’s medical services and insurance industry, and the state’s social welfare system, especially Medicaid.

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