With a flurry of activity, promises, and rumors floating around the road funding debate in Lansing, the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance released 5 principles it would like to see incorporated into the state’s road funding debate.
The principles reflect the northern Michigan business community’s desire to see a balanced solution between cuts, reallocation of current funding, efficiency in government, and new revenue dedicated to roads.
Road Funding Principles
We encourage the Legislature to include spending reforms and department efficiencies that would have a positive impact on sustainable infrastructure funding and economic growth. The Chamber Alliance also encourages the legislature to look carefully into program and spending return on investments when deciding on spending cuts and reforms.
Long-term the state will need to put more money into roads and transportation infrastructure if we want to continue to grow Michigan’s economy. We encourage looking at user fees and other new revenue options, along with cuts and reforms, to build a balanced and sustainable transportation infrastructure revenue plan. Additional revenue should be as fair to users as possible, and be guaranteed to roads and our transportation infrastructure.
The $1.2 billion number came from a study that is now years old, and we know our transportation needs have grown since then. Looking toward the future, as Michigan’s economy continues to grow, our transportation infrastructure funding will need a way to adjust to the increased use and stress put on our multidimensional transportation network.
The Chamber Alliance supports the use of state GF money but cautions against using projected future growth in general fund revenue as a large part of a road funding solution. While General Fund does show the legislature’s current desire to invest in roads, it leaves long-term and stable project funding at the mercy of future legislative bodies not interested in investing. Furthermore, the rise and fall of economic and budget cycles could put our roads in a sudden deficit situation.
Finding small increases or an incremental approach that finds and raises new revenue should not be discarded because it does not take care of the whole problem right away. In fact, it would not be practical to jump into a $1 billion investment in one year. Phasing a plan in would allow road agencies and contractors time to prepare for the increase. Small steps that lead ultimately to fixing the issue as a whole are preferable to waiting years to solve the whole problem at once.