Infrastructure Fund Sees $35 Million In State Budget
As budget negotiations wind down between legislative leaders and the governor, the Michigan Infrastructure Fund (MIF) will see $35 million for fiscal years 2017 – 2018. Governor Rick Snyder had recommended $20 million for the fund earlier in the year, however, the House-passed version only included $5 million for the fund, and the Senate-passed version completely eliminated all revenues going towards the much-needed fund.
The MIF is a new item in the state budget; established in 2016. It was created to assist communities with underground infrastructure projects, as well as to develop new mechanisms to improve our overall infrastructure in Michigan. For example, earlier this year, the governor signed an executive directive creating a pilot program to provide recommendations for implementing a comprehensive, statewide asset management system.
The pilot program was one of the essential recommendations outlined in the Governor’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission Report. As the pilot projects move through the year and give us great information on how we can establish a statewide infrastructure asset management program, they will create interactive maps for all infrastructure needs across the state. Money from the MIF can help support that initiative.
After the legislature looked to zero out the MIF, MITA and the Fix MI State campaign began grassroots efforts to encourage the public to reach out to their state lawmakers. Social media ads, as well as digital ads in popular online news publications, ran for approximately 4 weeks with great success. MITA staff heard from lawmakers and their staffers that people were contacting their office regarding the fund, and our internal numbers showcasing the amount of activity the Fix MI State website was generating was very impressive. Click here to watch the ad that ran during the budget debates, which played a big role in the final outcome of the fund being increased to $35 million.
As we promote having more revenue going towards all infrastructure needs in this state, the MIF will be a big component for future efforts. Another recommendation from the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission Report was to continue the Commission and to give them authority over the MIF. It is MITA’s long term goal to utilize that fund to help communities in a variety of ways to begin investing more in their underground infrastructure. As things progress with the fund and the asset management pilot programs, MITA will continue to update members.
Fix MI State Campaign Receives National Recognition
Two separate national online publications, Associations Now and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Daily Digest Bulletin, featured articles on the Fix MI State campaign and its efforts since the official launch in December 2016. Click here to read the coverge.
The objective of the campaign has been to educate the public on the scope of our infrastructure problem, support solutions and to have a group of citizens engaged and ready to take action when its needed. The above story featuring the Michigan Infrastructure Fund is a great example and a strong indicator of our public engagement efforts.
We recognize that $35 million isn’t going to solve the massive unmet infrastructure needs in this state, however, it’s a move in the right direction on future initiatives. More importantly than the $35 million in the MIF is the $600 million for roads and bridges coming from the General Fund in Michigan’s budget, which was passed in 2015 as part of the new road funding package. As discussions continue with Republican lawmakers who put increased limitations on the budget; i.e. an income tax roll back that would decrease revenues by approximately $1 billion each year or the teacher retirement system reforms that could potentially cost the state over $1 billion per year in revenues, it is extremely important that we continue to remind lawmakers that $600 million is supposed to come from the General Fund for roads and bridges.
The Fix MI State campaign that we have been working on for over a year is gaining followers and momentum and is ready for action if budget items become tighter next year, and some decision makers may see the new road funding money as a way to bail out other budgets. If you haven’t done so yet, we strongly encourage everyone to sign up on the campaign’s website and social media channels at www.fixmistate.org. In addition to the video on the MIF, there are several other compelling videos that you can share with your social media networks to get others involved.
If you have any further questions, please feel to contact Mike Nystrom, MITA’s Executive Vice President, at email@example.com, or Lance Binoniemi, MITA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org. They both can be reached at 517-347-8336.