From June 15 to July 10, passionate advocates will participate in a Transportation Month of Action to tell legislators to find a real solution to our transportation crisis. We invite you to join us as we explore the benefits of funding a robust system with transportation options for all Michiganders. After voters rejected Proposal 1 as a means to fund transportation, legislators have been working to find a new solution. Unfortunately, the message legislators seem to have heard is that voters only want transportation funded in a specific way: with existing revenue spent exclusively on roads and bridges. But this misses not only the needs of maintaining our transportation system, but voter sentiment as well! In a poll conducted by EPIC-MRA in April, 45 percent believed that legislators would need to fund transportation through additional taxes or fees, or a combination of new revenue and cuts to existing state programs and services. In that same poll, 64 percent wanted to continue to fund all of Michigan’s transportation infrastructure, such as public transit, harbors, rail, and biking and hiking trails. On June 10, the House passed a package that will raise revenue for roads and bridges by taking money from Michigan’s economic development programs, imposing higher registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, and harming our state’s lowest-income working families by eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit.The Senate is currently deliberating and has called off summer recess with session dates scheduled through June and July. Now is the time to educate your senator about the value of finding a real fix for our transportation crisis. Transportation advocates will spend the next month communicating three very important messages to the Senate. In order to truly fix our transportation system, we must:
- Support our complete transportation system. Historically we have funded public transportation, rail, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and trails by putting money through the full Act 51 formula. The House legislation would bypass all other transportation infrastructure and just send money to roads and bridges. The Senate has the opportunity to change this.
- Find a sustainable, dedicated funding source that does not pull money from other important Michigan priorities. Michigan’s transportation system is in crisis, but that doesn’t mean that other Michigan programs and services don’t also need their designated funds. Taking money from things, like our economic development programs, will only hurt other aspects of Michigan’s comeback. In order to continue funding transportation adequately, funds need to come from a sustainable source so we don’t face this crisis again.
- Create enough new revenue to meet the real needs of building and maintaining a 21st century transportation system. We need an estimated $1.2 billion annually just to fix our roads. If we are going to experience the benefits of a robust transportation system, we have to find at least this much, and to do so we must look at creating new revenue instead of relying solely on funding dedicated to other Michigan priorities.
Each week, advocates are going to focus on one of the above messages. The first week, spanning June 15-19, the message is support our complete transportation system. If this message is important to you (and we hope it is!), you can participate by sharing this message with your senator.
- Get in touch with your senator. Call, email, or write to tell them to put all money through the full Act 51 formula. Then, next week get in touch again around message point 2. Then do it again during week 3 and 4. Let the Senate know that we need well-funded options to get to the places we need and want to go. Not sure who your senator is? Look it up here.
- Share these graphics. We all know that having multiple transportation options beyond driving our cars is helpful for our health, pocketbook, and well-being. But do you know how beneficial it is for your community and Michigan? Use these helpful graphics to share how valuable it is to have a strong bus system, safe bikeways, and more.
- Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Use this power to communicate your message. Take a selfie with your preferred transportation option, whether that is your favorite bike lane, public bus, trail or walkway. Then share that with the masses. On Twitter and Facebook, use #MITransportation = and tell us why you choose this means of getting around. And don’t forget to tag your senator!
- Spread the word and have your friends participate. Legislators really do listen to their constituents, so make sure your voices are heard loud and clear. The more people who participate, the louder the message.
Funding transportation is a priority for the state that needs to be resolved – not only just right away, but in the right way — if Michigan is going to have a 21st century transportation system. Now is your chance to shape what that solution will look like.