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Budget impasse could delay infrastructure spending

striped safety cones on a road
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Road construction along I94 in Jackson County, Michigan (file photo)

The state Legislature is on a summer break with much of the state budget still unfinished. That includes revenue sharing payments to local governments, as well as plans for using federal pandemic aid.             

While local governments rely on revenue sharing payments, an even bigger deal is approving the state’s allocation of American Rescue Plan funds.             

Chris Hackbarth of the Michigan Municipal League says construction season in Michigan has already begun, so the Legislature needs to figure it out soon, otherwise "we’ve missed this construction season so the impact that this $3-plus billion could have on any construction projects this year is gone.”    

Hackbarth says if the budget waits until September or October that will further delay projects such as road, bridge and dam improvements. He says there are also opportunities languishing to apply for joint grants and other actions that could make the money go further.                  

“The thing that the public will not see right away is, if we’re doing this right, these projects are going to be spread over the next two or three years, so you’re going to see more impact probably next year and next construction season than you will this year,” he said.             

The Legislature is officially on a two-week recess. But Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) told a local television program he expects the Senate won’t return until August.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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