Michigan State Representative Paul Opsommer, R-DeWitt, announced today that he would be working with fellow transportation leaders at the upcoming National Conference of State Legislators conference to help push for more state autonomy in transportation spending.
“The past 5 years in Lansing have focused almost continually on making sure we could always match federal transportation dollars,” Opsommer said. “The new reality is that we are going to be getting so little transportation money from Washington D.C. going forward that it is a perfect time to stop worrying about matching funds, cut the cord, and put more dollars towards Michigan priorities.”
Opsommer said nationally senators like Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey have pushed for such policy in the past and that a perfect storm was being created to finally get such a change through. While he has not seen all of the details of the Hutchison and Garrett legislation, Opsommer has introduced House Concurrent Resolution 28 in Michigan to provide support for the premise of returning authority to the States. Opsommer plans to hold hearings on the resolution this fall.
“For too long Lansing has been chasing its tail to make sure we match these federal dollars, only to find out that once we get them we often have to spend it on street beautification projects and other low priority initiatives while our roads are crumbling,” Opsommer said. “As I work with my colleagues here and at NCSL on federal highway trust fund reauthorization it has become clear that the federal government is going to be giving us less money, put less towards roads, and not address the problems of donor states like Michigan. Matching funds could easily become a non-factor in the future”.
Opsommer also pointed to the current budget crisis in Washington D.C. as a reason why the states need to be more proactive.
MDOT Director Steudle recently addressed the Transportation Commission and highlighted the various problems that reliance on federal funds that may not be forthcoming were causing the state.
“It’s getting harder and harder to justify Michigan taxpayers paying money at our pumps that we have to send to the federal government with our fingers crossed that we will get most of it back and be allowed to spend it in areas that matter most to us,” Opsommer said. “I’m looking forward to discussing this issue with my colleagues at NCSL and addressing HCR 28 here in Michigan this fall.”