U.P. Delegates talk road funding holdup

U.P. Delegates talk road funding holdup

LANSING — The Michigan House of Representatives ended its session Wednesday evening without coming to an agreement on how best to fund the state’s road repairs.

Representative Scott Dianda expressed his disappointment, but said he could not support the up to $600 million dollars of budget cuts proposed.

“When you start looking at our seven counties that I represent in the U.P., they would start looking at cutting a lot of our essential services,” Dianda said, “and the other part that I think was a very big crucial thing was the $3.8 billion that’s currently spent on MDOT. Myself and a lot of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle are saying that we’ve got to start looking at how we’re spending the money now.”

“Really it’s coming down to the revenue side of it– are we going to raise revenue or are we not going to raise revenue,” said Sen. Tom Casperson. “Until they can work that out, we’re going to hold off and we won’t be voting on anything. It doesn’t make any sense to move forward on anything until we get an agreement out of everybody. It needs to be a bipartisan effort; right now it’s been one sided. Leadership is looking at talking to other sides and bring their ideas into this thing as well.”

Thursday’s House of Representatives session was adjourned, but Dianda and others are ready to head back whenever they get the call. The package of bills meant to solve the road funding issue was passed through the Senate earlier this summer.

That agreement would have given MDOT and county road commissions $700 million immediately, but would also increase gas tax to 34 cents a gallon over a three–year span. A ballot proposal to help fund roads was soundly defeated by voters back in May.