Ex-lawmakers propose new plan to finance MI roads

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of former state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have put forward new ideas for the legislature to consider when it comes to finding revenue to fix and maintain Michigan roads.

The Michigan Consensus Policy Project was created to brainstorm bipartisan solutions to the state’s most pressing issues.

“How to fund road repair and maintenance is one of the top priorities identified by the Michigan public … but it’s a difficult issue because it’s going to require revenue,” former state Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema said.

Sikkema, a co-chair of the Michigan Consensus Policy Project, said their group of former lawmakers have come up with ideas to cover the cost of not just fixing the roads but maintaining them over a long period of time.

The former lawmakers’ ideas were outlined in a press release sent out Tuesday.

“The bi-partisan group of former elected officials and policymakers called for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders to avoid raiding the state’s general fund for further needs, and instead continue to move toward a user-based, long-term plan to address the state’s massive infrastructure needs,” the release stated.

The proposed solutions come ahead of Wednesday’s State of the State address where Whitmer is expected to announce a new plan for funding the roads.

“We’re going to be anticipating that the governor is going to propose some bonding,” Sikkema said. “We’re hopeful that she articulates the fact that that’s only part of a long-term solution.”

Limiting the use of bonding or borrowing money to finance the roads was one of the three principles proposed by the former lawmakers.

Sikkema said borrowing or bonding money has the potential to indirectly take away from the general fund.

“Right we’re using the general fund to a considerable extent and that kind of robs from other priorities like K-12 schools, higher education, environmental protection,” he said.

Instead of drawing from the general fund or depending on the use of bonds, the group believes the best way to fix and maintain the roads is by finding a user-based revenue.

“Whether it’s the gas tax or some kind of mileage fee or whether it’s toll roads, they’re all a user-based principle,” Sikkema said.

This time last year, the same group of former lawmakers offered similar suggestions for the legislature and the public to consider.

“We’re not trying to replace the legislature or the governor, but what we are trying to do is demonstrate … that Republicans and Democrats can come together and propose solutions to solve some of the state’s most pressing problems,” Sikkema said.

When asked for a response to the proposed ideas, a spokesperson for Governor Whitmer sent News 8 the following statement.

“I have nothing to add here. The Governor will talk more about her roads plan during her State of the State speech tomorrow.”

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