Speaker Cotter: A road plan to meet Michigan’s needs
Michigan residents handed a resounding defeat to Proposal 1, even though they had to drive over a collection of cratered roadways to get to the polls. That message was not lost on us in the Michigan Legislature. We listened to the people and came up with a plan that addresses Prop 1’s fatal shortcomings by finally solving the roads issue with low taxes, no cuts to services, and with a simple solution we all can understand.
The House Republican plan pays for Michigan’s road repairs in four straightforward ways. We eliminate one of the many government subsidies instituted under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm that have tightened state budgets in recent years, we refocus hundreds of millions of dollars in the existing budget to roads without cutting a single state service to anyone in need, we lock in dedicated spending in future budgets, and finally we require warranties and competitive bidding from the road builders to make sure our tax dollars are used efficiently and effectively.
Reprioritizing money from one part of the budget to another is never easy, but it is the right thing to do as our economy recovers and our infrastructure needs expand. Michigan spent more than a billion dollars last year trying to incentivize companies to move here. Moving just a fraction of that spending allows us to rebuild our failing road network without cutting services or raising taxes across the board.
It is well past time for state government to reassess its priorities in light of the road funding crisis, just like every family in Michigan had to reassess their own spending priorities after the recession. Times have been tough here, and we need to make smart choices that limit waste.
House Republicans are also choosing to invest in road and bridge repairs first by dedicating a fixed down payment to road funding every year, just like we do with schools and public safety. Our plan makes the right commitments and ensures road funding has a place in the state budget now and for years to come.
Some critics want you to believe money won’t be there for roads in future years, because the size of other government programs and entitlements will necessarily increase and consume the entirety of the budget. I don’t think that’s right, and I believe we can change that in Lansing.
Just like a family putting their mortgage payment on auto-debit, we recognize that the state has to make these payments first every year with dedicated revenue if we’re going to be serious about fixing our crumbling roads. We have to take care of what we need before we argue over what we want.
The people of Michigan know they are important. That is why voters did not tell us to quit trying to fix the roads, even when they clearly told us they did not like Proposal 1. Everyone wants a solution, but everyone wanted a different solution than the one that was available at the ballot box.
That is why House Republicans moved quickly to propose an alternative and begin the discussion on this important topic. With this proposal on the table, we are ready to work with our partners in the Legislature to find the real, long-term solution Michigan needs.
State Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, is speaker of the Michigan House and represents the 99th District.