Partisan Politics Involved In Michigan Road Funding

Michigan’s crumbling roads will be getting some greatly needed repairs this year. Residents who hope to see the repairs made in their neighborhoods will depend largely on who represents them in state government.

Crain’s Detroit Business reported a project list from the Michigan Department of Transportation shows that a list of 108 projects approved by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the republican leaders of the House and Senate, 87 were requested by Republican legislators and only two by Democrats.

Democrats fared better with Snyder, twelve of the 19 projects were in Democratic districts.

All 26 Senate Republicans had at least one project in their districts compared to just five of the 12 Senate Democrats. Just two of those five were requested by a Democrat. The others either the DOT or by a Republican Senator with an overlapping district.

In the House, 56 of 59 House Republicans had at least one project in their districts compared to 12 of the 49 Democrats. Only one of the 12 projects in those districts was requested by a Democrat.

Twice in 2013, GOP lawmakers have allocated special funding for road projects.

The first time Senate members of both parties were notified to request projects, House Democrats were not allowed to participate.

When asked why they were not allowed to make requests, the office of House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall said “They weren’t welcomed into the discussion because they didn’t vote for the funding.”

Democrats said the road money was in a large budget bill last year, and thy didn’t like some of the projects in that bill, like cuts to local government and pension taxes.

Since Snyder was elected in 2010, Michigan politics have often been a contact sport.

In 2012 Michigan residents voted down a proposal to make it a Right To Work state. In December, in a lame duck session, Republicans pushed the law through. Snyder signed the the law despite saying earlier in the year Right To Work was “Not on my agenda.”

Snyder has also put Emergency Financial Managers in several Michigan cities, including Detroit and Flint. EFM’s control city finances over elected officials.

TRIP, a non-profit group that researches economic transportation data, reports that 57% of Michigan roads in “poor or mediocre condition. They also reported drivers in the state have spent $7 billion in vehicle repairs.

Ari Adler, spokesman for Bolger was asked if partisanship was involved in road funding said “A lot of projects existed that we don’t have money for, so we had to chip away with the money that we had for a down payment. The important thing is the roads are getting improved, bridges are getting repaired. There’s a lot more to do. But this is a starting point.”

Snyder is running for re-election this year against former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer.

[Image via]