After a several week standoff between Governor Whitmer and the Republican leaders in the House and Senate, that included some unprecedented measures by both groups, all sides have finally come to an agreement on the Fiscal Year 2019/2020 state budget. The overall budget was officially done and signed into law on October 1, however it included almost $1 billion in veto cuts by the Governor that many wished to revisit.
The state budget had been contentious from the day the Governor presented her budget recommendations to the Legislature in March. Amongst those recommendations was a proposal to increase the gas tax by 45 cents to raise over $2.4 billion annually for roads and bridges. That proposal did not receive positive reactions from the Republican controlled House and Senate. As negotiations over the state budget went on throughout the spring and summer, a potential link to the budget and a long term road funding deal was severed in early fall.
A stalemate began on a supplemental budget to restore some of the cuts that the Governor had vetoed in the final budget. Finally, cooler heads prevailed this week and an agreement was made to restore some of the essential services funding previously cut out of the budget. MITA staff believes this to be a positive step towards continuing the discussion on road funding. As all of the Legislative leaders and the Governor have made this a top priority, we expect that as the new year begins, that discussion will move forward.
Next year is an election year, which will make things more political when talking about roads and how to properly fund them. For our part, MITA will have a strong public relations campaign throughout pothole season to remind the public that the poor state of our roads is thanks to decades of underinvestment. The public has made this issue its number one priority for state government to tackle. As we move into an election year, we need to pay attention to those who are serious about fixing our infrastructure as compared to those who are just giving lip service.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs, at email@example.com. They both can be reached at 517-347-8336.