The state’s revenue estimating conference concluded last week that there was an extra $483 million more than anticipated coming out of the current fiscal year. Much debate on where to best utilize the extra revenues has occurred, and the three Republican leaders: (Governor Rick Snyder, House Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville) have decided to put most of that extra money towards improving roads and bridges throughout Michigan. The total money put towards our transportation system out of the extra surplus money would be approximately $350 million. Now that the majority party leaders have come to an agreement on where to spend the extra cash, it is likely that the full legislature will follow suit in their recommendations.
The news can be a double-edge sword for the industry. While any additional money is great, our concern is that this could be another excuse for some lawmakers to avoid finding a long-term funding solution. This additional revenue is a one-time source, and it is not nearly enough to meet our overall need to maintain our current system.
Fortunately, the leaders have recognized publicly that this is not the long-term solution to our transportation funding problem. Governor Snyder said of the one-time money, “We will continue to work with our legislative partners to develop a sufficient and sustainable revenue stream to maintain our transportation infrastructure.” Speaker Bolger commented that, “This (new money) provides a solid down payment on our transportation needs, however, that’s all it is. It is not a full solution.”
There continues to be a strong push by MITA, as well as our Michigan Transportation Team partners, to get a long-term and sustainable solution in place before lawmakers leave for their summer recess. Early estimates have the legislature in session through the week of June 14, however, there is a possibility that they will be in session through June 28. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Infrastructure Modernization continue to meet and debate different solutions to increasing revenues by an additional $1.2 – $1.6 billion annually.