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Chamber Letter to Legislature: Action Needed on Roads Compromise Plan

October 21, 2015

The Honorable Arlan Meekhof
The Honorable Jim Ananich
Michigan Senate

The Honorable Kevin Cotter
The Honorable Tim Greimel
Michigan House of Representatives

State Capitol Building
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Dear Messrs Meekhof, Ananich, Cotter and Greimel:

After the defeat of Proposal 1, leaders of both parties promised voters a plan to finally fix Michigan’s roads and critical infrastructure. Six months later, no agreement has been reached and voters once again read headlines that our elected leaders are at an impasse.

This morning, the Chamber’s Board of Directors met to discuss the challenge of funding our road and infrastructure fix. The Board voted – in an overwhelming majority – to endorse the compromise measure that is currently being discussed and agreeable to the Governor. In addition, the Board authorized us to communicate this action and included messages to the Legislature and media.

Immediately after the failure of Proposal 1, the Chamber outlined five principles that have shaped our advocacy on this important issue:

  1. Transportation infrastructure should be funded by users of the system.
  2. The funding crisis has been decades in the making; an appropriate solution should be permanent and dedicated.
  3. New revenue will be required to protect services that the business community and citizens demand.
  4. Transportation is multi-modal and all modes of transportation are important to competitiveness.
  5. Speed is important, but getting it right is more important.

The Chamber continues to believe that the tremendous economic progress Michigan has made thanks to the strong leadership of the Legislature and Governor is at risk if the roads issue is not resolved in a manner consistent with these five principles. The reported “last, best deal” reflects a compromise that, while imperfect to all parties, would finally bring an end to this saga and give Michigan motorists and businesses the transportation infrastructure they deserve.

Action should be taken immediately to pass this proposal. It is past time for voters to see whether their elected representatives are interested in solving the most vexing and persistent issue facing our state.

The Chamber recognizes that the commitment of $400 million in General Fund appropriation is not without its risks; Michigan’s citizens and businesses recognize that the state must fund priorities that sustain our economic growth, and this is likely to have a cost in future years. The state must prepare to fund Healthy Michigan, make higher education attainable for its residents, and invest in economic development programs that take advantage of Michigan’s improving business climate.

This commitment of $400 million from the General Fund combined with $800 million in new revenue will provide an adequate pathway to being the long process of bringing Michigan’s roads and bridges to working, safe and sustainable condition. Further dedication of the General Fund beyond the $400 million, however, would be short-sighted and run counter to Michigan’s best interests.

Michigan’s residents and business community should not wait any longer to have a transportation system worthy of a state on the rise. The failure to act decisively has already cost Michigan motorists four construction seasons since Governor Snyder first called on the Legislature to act. Increasingly, citizens from all walks of life along with business owners and leaders see the Legislature’s inability to find common ground on this issue as a failure of leadership. Your prompt action will help repair not only our critical infrastructure, but Michigan’s reputation for good government leadership that you have worked so hard to build over the past few years.

Sincerely,

Sandy K. Baruah

President & Chief Executive Officer

Brad Williams

Vice President, Government Relations

cc: Governor Rick Snyder
Members, Michigan Legislature
Chair, Detroit Regional Chamber
Vice Chair, Detroit Regional Chamber