The Craig Fahle Show

Action to Improve Road Conditions May Not Happen

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher reports from the state Capitol:

Attempts in the Legislature to come up with more than $1 billion a year to fix roads fell apart late Wednesday night. After about 15 hours of trying to pass proposals to fix the roads, the Senate went home after midnight with no deal.

Lawmakers in that chamber rejected a plan asking voters to approve a one percent sales tax increase that would go to roads. Another bill to boost the state’s gasoline tax also never got enough support to pass.

“This is an embarrassment. And it’s a failure of leadership,” Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, told reporters as the Senate was leaving for the night.

“This is not easy for anybody. If it was, the Republicans would have done it a long time ago. But I think the fact of the matter is that we are here now, and they could only cobble together nine votes out of 26 members in their caucus. It’s a failure of leadership, I don’t know how you conclude something other than that.”

Opposition to each plan came from both sides of the aisle. Many Democrats worry the proposed tax increases would unfairly affect the poor.

State lawmakers meet for one more day before they leave Lansing for the summer.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says there’s still time this year to work out a deal to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads.

“We do need to address the long-term problem,” Richardville told reporters after the session. “And I think we’ll have to do it either this summer – possibly tomorrow (Thursday) – but I see more likely this summer or possibly in the fall.”

Most estimates say Michigan needs to increase infrastructure spending by at least $1.2 billion a year to keep the roads from getting worse.