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Bumpy road ahead for state budget as road funding talks continue

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan lawmakers are expected to continue discussing ways to spend more money to fix state roads. It’s estimated the state has to come up with at least $1.2 billion annually to repair Michigan’s aging and crumbling roads and bridges.

In May, voters rejected a proposal to increase fuel and sales tax rates to pay for fixing the roads.

Most of the proposals on the table now include tapping existing state revenues. The general fund is used to fund most state government programs.    

Bob Schneider is with the Citizens Research Council. He says whatever deal is struck it will probably mean a “budget crunch” for other state programs, including prisons and higher education.

“You run into significant budget issues in both fiscal year 2016 and they get a little worse in fiscal year 2017 … if you start using more of our general fund resources for the roads,” says Schneider.

But delay is not a good option either. 

Schneider says the road problem will only get more expensive to fix the longer state lawmakers debate a solution. 

“At some point when you need to finally deal with it … these same budget decisions come back and hit you in the face and they are bigger than they are today,” says Schneider.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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