Businesses and consumers alike rely on quality roads. When our roads are in disrepair—which far too many in Michigan are—it costs us all time and money. It takes us longer to get to work or home and costs money for car repairs. Businesses rely on our roads to connect them to the community and their customers, and cannot afford traffic jams, increased transportation costs or shipping delays. Our roads literally get us where we need to go, and should be valued as such.
That is why I was pleased to support the Department of Transportation budget recently passed by the Senate. It was one of the few bright spots in this year’s budget, as it was one of only a handful of departments to receive an increase in these lean times. Overall, the budget received a $137.9 million increase over last year, allocating more money to pay for vital road projects and improve our state’s infrastructure.
This increase also enabled the Department of Transportation to provide matching funds to leverage vital federal transportation dollars. The Legislature must be responsible with every taxpayer dollar we are entrusted with. Anyone who has driven on Michigan roads knows that their repair is an essential need, but by securing federal money, we are able to get a significant return on our investment and direct even more money toward fixing our roads.
By increasing funding for the Department of Transportation, we are going to be able to make the repairs and improvements to our roads that they so desperately need. This will help our businesses thrive by improving accessibility and reducing company transportation costs. It will also enable customers to spend less at the repair shop and more at our local businesses.
The Transportation budget also included a $10 million increase for the State Aeronautics Fund that provides funding for investments and improvements at airports around the state. This fund is also extremely efficient and fiscally sound, using a 5% match each from state and local governments to leverage 90% in federal dollars. Also, the funding approved in this budget along with House Bill 4025 that would allocate a portion of sales tax revenue from aviation fuel and specifically direct it to the State Aeronautics Fund, will increase the State Aeronautics Fund enough to accommodate our state’s larger airports. This will enable Detroit Metro Airport to now apply for funding for improvement projects, bettering our region.
Transportation funding in Michigan is not only used to repair our roads and bridges, but update our airports and promote mass transit. These projects help improve travel and commerce alike, and I will continue to support efforts like these that effectively leverage federal dollars to improve our local infrastructure.