The Michigan Legislature accomplished a great deal this legislative session. In addition to investing more in higher education so college could be more affordable, they balanced the budget on time and paid down debt. They also paved the way for Detroit’s financial restructuring and the establishment of a financial oversight process to help ensure sound fiscal practices are used in delivering city services. All of these things are very important in making Michigan a stronger state and we commend the legislature for these actions. But MI still needs a long-term, comprehensive funding solution for maintaining quality roads and bridges in our state. At $154 per person, MI ranks last among all states for spending on roads. Sadly, MI ranks 45th in urban road condition and has 1,354 bridges that are considered structurally deficient. Right now, the price tag to bring our roads and bridges up to good condition according to most experts is close to $2 billion. That number grows every day we do not act. We have temporarily plugged the hole using general fund dollars, but this is not sustainable and comes at the expense of other important priorities.
Fixing our roads is central to our economic future, both to protect the jobs we already have and bring more jobs to the state. The condition of our transportation system causes existing MI companies and prospective businesses to question whether MI is the right location for making new investments. Access to good highways is one of the top factors in making site location decisions. To compete for new jobs and investment, we need to invest in our roads and bridges now. We can’t continue to use general fund dollars on short-term fixes. We urge the legislature to continue to work on a comprehensive, long-term funding solution for fixing our roads.