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MEC applauds state leaders for comprehensive transportation funding solution

With voter approval, plan would support in-demand public transit
Dec 18, 2014
December 18, 2014

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) today cheered a plan from state leaders that, with approval from the full Legislature and voters, will begin to seriously address the state's deteriorating roads and bridges while providing important funding for public transportation.

Under the plan, which the Legislature is expected to vote on later today, Michiganders would vote on a special ballot proposal in May to remove the sales tax on fuel and raise the general sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. It is expected to raise $1.34 billion, including $112 million for the Comprehensive Transportation Fund, which supports maintenance and upgrades to public transit and passenger rail.

While MEC preferred a legislative solution, Chris Kolb, the group's president, praised the new plan for putting the anticipated revenue through Michigan's full, traditional transportation funding formula. Known as Act 51, the formula distributes funds throughout the state's entire transportation system.

"We're pleased to see lawmakers and the governor recognize that Michigan's transportation system is more than just roads," Kolb said. "We support this proposed solution, and we hope the Legislature will, too."

If approved, the plan would be Michigan's first structural increase in state-level funding for public transportation since 1987.

"People in urban and rural areas of Michigan depend on public transit in their daily lives, and more and more young professionals consider it a must when they choose where to live," Kolb added. "This plan is good news for drivers, transit riders and Michigan's economy."

Kolb noted that the new funding would make Michigan more effective in attracting new talent and providing all Michiganders access to opportunity. The state's 78 public transit agencies provided more than 95 million transit trips in 2013-more than 260,000 rides to work, doctor visits or other destinations each day. State data show rail has seen a 78 percent ridership bump between 2002 and 2013. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Millennials list good public transportation among their top three factors when choosing where to live.

By using Act 51 fully, the plan would also benefit the Department of Natural Resources Recreational Improvement Fund, which supports Michigan's extensive system of more than 12,000 miles of trails for motorized and non-motorized use.

Additionally, that fund helps to maintain and improve the state's 80 harbors and marinas and 1,300 public boating access sites, supporting the shipping and recreational boating industries that are an essential piece of Michigan's economy.

Chris Kolb: 517-487-9539
Andy McGlashen: 517-420-1908
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy
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