Michigan Senate considers $100M proposal to repair roads

LANSING — The state Senate is considering a proposal to immediately inject $100 million into local and state roads to help deal with the effects of an especially brutal winter.

“We all represent communities that have been mercilessly affected by this winter,” said state Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart. “I’m really concerned that the road commissions are on life support trying to keep the roads safe for us.”

The problem is expected to get worse when warmer temperatures and rain hit Michigan later this week and the freeze and thaw cycle results in even more tire-crunching potholes.

“The average snowfall for us is 77 inches and we’re at 122 inches of snow now,” said Kenneth Hulka, managing director of the Muskegon County Road Commission. “One of my drivers hit a hole and split a truck in half.”

The Senate Appropriations committee got the road rescue ball rolling Tuesday morning, offering an amendment to a supplemental budget bill that would put $100 million into state, county, township and village road funds. The committee was expected to vote on the budget Thursday

The money would be allocated by giving: 39% to the Michigan Department of Transportation, 39% to county road commissions and the remainders to cities, villages and townships. The supplemental also included a $2 million amendment to help communities clear tree debris leftover from a pre-Christmas ice storm.

The roads money would come from a $115 million reserve fund that had been set aside to use for road projects identified by individual legislators that hasn’t been approved by the full Legislature yet..

The rest of the $361 million supplemental bill, fueled mostly by state budget surpluses, also reflected the $73.3 million needed in the Departments of Community Health and Corrections to make up for a shortfall created when the Senate refused to give immediate effect to a bill expanding Medicaid to 400,000 low income Michiganders and $114.5 million to cover shortfalls in the Health Insurance Claims Assessment, or HICA, fund, which provides the state match for federal Medicaid dollars.

Some other items in the supplemental budget:

  • $600,000 in college scholarships for teens aging out of the foster care system.
  • $5.1 million for school districts that received students from the two districts — Buena Vista and Inkster — that were dissolved by the state because of financial problems.
  • $19.9 million for a programs to prevent infant mortality and provide services to at-risk pregnant women and premature babies that is being run by Hutzel/Harper Hospital in Detroit.
  • $3 million to enhance rail grade crossings across the state.
  • $15.8 million for maintenance at military armories around the state, $560,000 for services to veterans and $1.2 million for a new heating and cooling system at the Grand Rapids veterans’ home.
  • $2 million in start-up costs for the Regional Transit Authority in southeast Michigan.

Posted by Tribune News Services

Leave a Reply