The House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday unanimously approved state Rep. Rodney Wakeman’s plan giving local governments more flexibility when it comes to funding necessary road repairs.
The Saginaw Township lawmaker’s measure alters state regulations in key areas to give communities a better opportunity to work on roads in the most dire need of repair. House Bill 4965 would ensure the state no longer constrains counties from certain spending requirements.
Currently, local units of government are required to divide 75 percent of funds to “primary roads,” leaving just 25 percent of funds to go to “local roads.” Wakeman’s plan would provide local governments with more flexibility in deciding how to spend road repair money and what gets fixed.
“Given the economic uncertainty of our state and local municipalities as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, we cannot continue to operate under the current road funding formula that spends tax revenue irresponsibly,” Wakeman said. “Even before COVID-19, the blanket 75/25 rule on primary and local road repair allocation wasn’t working for every county in Michigan. Tough budget decisions will have to be made in the coming weeks, and we can make these decisions a little easier if we explore ways to spend road repair funding more wisely. It’s time we ditch burdensome, impractical regulations and start adopting solutions that allow us to prioritize the roads in the worst shape first – regardless of whether or not they are a primary or secondary road.”
Under Wakeman’s legislation, local governments would still need to submit their asset management plans – which includes road condition data, outline of performance goals and risk of road failure analysis – to a commission to ensure there is proper oversight.
The legislation now awaits a full House vote.