Legislation would fix roads, bridges neglected under the current system

LANSING, Mich., April 13, 2018 — Sen. Steve Bieda (D–Warren) has introduced two bills to reform how the State of Michigan funds its roads and bridges, which are counterparts to those that were recently introduced in the House by Rep. Jeff Yaroch (R–Richmond). The legislation would appropriate money based on a new set of criteria that will give areas a chance to fix infrastructure that has long been neglected under the current funding process.

“There’s no debating it: our tax dollars should go toward fixing our roads, not someone else’s,” Sen. Bieda said. “Taxpayers in Southeast Michigan have spent a significant amount of money helping rural areas around the state, but, right now, we need our money to fix our roads.”

Senate Bill 944 would base the amount of transportation funding an area receives on the number of lane miles they have in their area, rather than just the mileage.

Currently, the major factor applied in funding roads considers the total length of the road, without consideration for how many lanes the roadway may have. Urban areas utilize multi-lane roads to reduce traffic congestion, which are more expensive to fix, while most roadways in rural areas are single-lane.

Senate Bill 945 would ensure that all additional revenue generated by an increase in automobile registration fees be kept in the counties from which they were raised.

“When we pay thousands of dollars in higher taxes to register our cars and trucks, we expect that money to go toward fixing our roads and bridges,” Sen. Bieda said. “But it isn’t, and our money is being sent to fix someone else’s problem — that theft ends under these bills.”

In 2015, Governor Snyder signed a 20 percent increase in vehicle registration fees into law. Those additional fees, along with an increase in the gas tax, is expected to generate $600 million in revenue. Under the current funding system, that money would be sent to the state, but this bill would simplify that process and keep taxpayer dollars in the areas they came from.

Both of the proposed bills would rewrite Public Act 51, which was originally drafted in 1951.

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