The much-anticipated report from the Growing Michigan Together Council (GMTC) was voted on and released this week. Governor Whitmer appointed MITA’s Executive Vice President to serve on the council as one of the infrastructure experts. After five and a half months of intense and tedious meetings, the report is now public and you can read the final report here. You will hear a lot of rhetoric concerning the report based on our current political climate. MITA considers the report to be a launching point for our goal of procuring long-term sustainable funding. At one of the council meetings our Governor conveyed the need to fund infrastructure by emphasizing the importance of curing the systemic problem that underfunding our infrastructure has created. To accomplish this MITA will need your help and will be launching a grassroots campaign at the Annual Conference so all members can participate.
The GMTC was established by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in June 2023 and was tasked with developing a long-term vision that addresses current and future challenges to help set our state up for success in the future. Specifically, the council is to advise the governor on specific policies to grow Michigan’s population, including identifying a population goal for 2050. In doing this, it will look at ways to successfully attract and retain talent, improve preK-12 educational outcomes and long-term funding solutions for higher education, and develop strategies for upgrading and modernizing our transportation and water infrastructure, including developing long-term, sustainable funding solutions.
Under the Governor’s Executive Order, the task specifically laid out for infrastructure and places reads: Propose long-term, sustainable, and equitable funding solutions for Michigan’s multi-modal transportation systems and aging water infrastructure network to help meet the 2050 population goal identified in the report. When proposing policy, planning, and funding recommendations, the report must consider the need for sustainable investment with the emergence of more fuel-efficient vehicles and an unprecedented influx of one-time federal money.
The final report lays out a variety of ideas on how the state can grow in population. One of the central themes throughout the report is that infrastructure is essential to all areas of concern when it comes to attracting people to our state. The report identifies significant problems facing our state, one of the largest being the $3.9 billion annual funding deficit facing our roads and bridges. Which are the only hard numbers contained within the report. The council recommended an array of solutions to consider closing that $3.9 billion investment gap to fix and fund Michigan’s roads, including:
· Future-proofing our physical infrastructure to ensure that Michigan is investing in our communities in a way that ensures that our infrastructure can adapt to an ever-changing climate;
· Examine alternative funding sources that make funding our roads equitable, ensuring that road funding is not threatened by the decreasing revenue from the gas tax as more drivers transition to hybrid and electric vehicles. Alternative funding sources include vehicle miles travel fees, tolling, and better utilization of public-private partnerships;
· Better leverage opportunities for federal investments and state-federal partnerships in community-driven solutions that can help prevent flooded highways and streets, like we’ve experienced in southeast Michigan in recent years;
· Incentivize state and local entities responsible for infrastructure to coordinate their efforts through service-sharing agreements or consolidation of local services to better coordinate infrastructure projects that cross jurisdictional lines.
This report is a launching point for our campaign for long-term, sustainable, and equitable infrastructure funding for Michigan. MITA, alongside the Fix MI State Coalition, comprised of groups representing every industry in Michigan, including agriculture, business, labor, construction, local governments, and many more, will be educating policymakers on the need for a solution to the $3.9 billion annual gap that exists.
Many will balk at the lack of detail in the report as it relates to how to fund or reach the stated goals. MITA would agree that we would have liked to get options on the table on how to reach our funding shortfalls but with that said much of that work should occur with direction from legislators and our Governor. It was clear based on the information gathered that even those in our younger demographic support the idea of good infrastructure. Remember it is easier to poke at problems than work on them which fully explains how we got to decades of underfunding. It’s time to stop punting our issue to future generations.
To be clear MITA WILL NEED YOUR HELP! As our efforts continue through 2024, MITA members will receive resources to advocate for increased infrastructure funding with their local lawmakers. Success will require a collective voice from the industry, speaking loudly and often. We will encourage our members to contact, meet, host job site visits, and educate their state representatives and senators, with the help of resources to be provided. MITA would like to track all of our efforts so that we can promote them in various ways through a multitude of media outlets.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Rob Coppersmith, Executive Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lance Binoniemi,
Vice President of Government Affairs, at email@example.com.