When Governor Rick Snyder lays out his plans for Michigan’s future in Thursday’s State of the State Address, we hope the he calls for a sound investment in Michigan’s future: additional funds for the state’s transportation system. Governor Snyder is expected to support comprehensive transportation funding in his address, by now a familiar refrain for those tuned in to the transportation scene.
“Michigan’s infrastructure is living on borrowed time,” Snyder said in his 2011 Transportation and Infrastructure Special Message, noting our crumbling infrastructure and its threat to Michigan’s economic growth and competitiveness. State of the State addresses in 2012 and 2013 reiterated this call for a 21st century transportation system. But several legislative proposals have failed thus far to garner the estimated 1.5 billion dollars in annual additional investments needed to get 90% of our state trunk-line roads in good condition by 2025. The stakes have only gotten higher since the Governor’s 2011 message. Without additional investments, it will cost an additional $5 billion just next year to bring 90% of state trunkline roads into good condition by 2025, Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle recently told lawmakers.
Thursday’s State of the State provides Governor Snyder the opportunity to address the need for comprehensive transportation funding, and to make clear that it is one of the administration’s top priorities. Republican House leadership recently released their 2013-2014 House Action Plan, which addresses the need for transportation improvements but only provides for short-term, piecemeal funding solutions. The leadership’s proposal falls short of creating a transportation system that will attract and retain Michigan residents, especially younger generations wanting more transportation options. A strong call for transportation funding from Governor Snyder could provide the leverage for infrastructure and services critical to his Reinventing Michigan initiative, Placemaking efforts, and Michigan’s continued economic recovery.
Wholesale investment in transportation is long overdue. Governor Snyder should use Thursday’s State of the State Address to get Michigan back on track. But his call must be more compelling and more aggressive than in previous years to help break the legislative stalemates of the past.
Governor Snyder’s State of the State Address will be January 16, at 7:00 PM. You can watch the address live online, and join the conversation about the State of the State Address using #MISOTS.
Written by: Jeff Prygoski, Fellow, Transportation for Michigan