Rep. Greimel: GOP drops ball on fixing Michigan roads
When legislators returned to Lansing last week, taxpayers rightly expected us to finally fix our state’s roads and bridges. Instead, House Republican leadership decided to only hold legislative session for two days and then went home for three weeks.
Republicans hold the governor’s office and a majority of seats in both chambers of the Legislature, and they could pass a roads plan without a single Democratic vote. Unfortunately, Republicans have been paralyzed by infighting within their own ranks.
House Republican leaders have proposed diverting $600 million from other programs each and every year to fund roads. The biggest problem with this proposal is that House Republicans have refused to identify where they would cut $600 million from the General Fund. Taxpayers have had enough of the Legislature kicking the can down the road when it comes to making tough decisions, and House Democrats have joined Gov. Rick Snyder in expressing grave concerns about the House Republicans’ unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible approach.
Would police and fire departments around the state take the hit? It’s possible. Would prison funding be scaled back, weakening safeguards for families who live near state prisons? Perhaps. Would community health programs be reduced or even eliminated? We don’t know. Would education funding be cut? Maybe. Republicans have been unable or unwilling to answer our questions about how they would make these massive budget cuts.
The House Republican approach of cutting the budget, but waiting until future years to decide how to pay for it, wreaks of the kind of irresponsible behavior that has led the United States’ Congress to run massive budget deficits. Michigan residents deserve better.
Our deteriorating roads and bridges are a serious problem and they deserve a serious solution. Our potholes, bridges and ramshackle roads cannot be fixed in a single year, and we need a long-term, permanent solution that is sustainable for years to come. Taxpayers have had enough of Band-Aid approaches to fixing roads.
Michigan House Democrats stand ready to work with the governor and with members of both parties in the house and senate to find a responsible solution that will work. That’s why we introduced a plan in July that would invest $1.2 billion into roads annually through the responsible use of existing funds, reforms in our transportation funding system and requirements that corporations pay their fair share to fix this problem.
Disappointingly, House Republicans have been reluctant to sit down with us and talk about our ideas.
Now is the time for all of us to come together, regardless of party, and share our ideas as we search for a real plan to fix our roads that doesn’t jeopardize education, health care or public safety. The people of Michigan don’t want partisan politics — they want their roads fixed.
State Rep. Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, is House Democratic Leader and represents the 29th District.