State Rep. Jack O’Malley, chair of the House Transportation Committee, today unveiled a wide-ranging, bipartisan plan to give local communities more tools in their toolbox when it comes to providing needed road repairs.
The bills, which are separate from ongoing budget negotiations but a notable and increased commitment to Michigan’s infrastructure, cut red tape and improve state regulations for additional flexibility with roadwork from driveway to highway.
“Road funding is important. We’ve committed more money to road repairs in our House budget plan that was approved in June. But it’s about spending our money smarter,” said O’Malley, of Lake Ann. “I think we can get more mileage from those dollars and have our rules be more tailored to what communities across the state need – and that is what these bills do.”
Rep. O’Malley has hosted several town halls throughout the state during his first legislative term on the issue of roads. Input from residents, local officials and road builders was taken into account to develop a better way of improving infrastructure.
O’Malley is sponsoring a proposal in the package, HB 4963, which allows for a local option fuel tax at the county level.
If put on the ballot by a county and approved by the people, taxes collected would be distributed to local road agencies based on population and actual road miles within that county.
O’Malley contrasted his local option plan with the governor’s uniform gas tax increase, underscoring a key “economic importance” variable within her recommendation. This provision would have put revenue collected at the pump toward roads deemed most important by a centralized board while leaving some rural areas throughout the state underserved. A county-oriented tax would give these areas more authority and ensure the needs of residents paying a tax are properly addressed.
“Gov. Whitmer’s massive gas hike idea was unpopular for many reasons, and one of the concerns is the revenue from her plan would have been unfairly distributed to places like metro Detroit,” O’Malley said. “With a local fuel tax ballot option, if people in a particular county want better roads, they will have the opportunity to pay for them.”
Other measures in the legislative package include car registration reform, asset management planning, bridge work collaboration and rollbacks on prequalification limitations for certain contract work.
The proposals have been referred to the House Transportation Committee for consideration.
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Jack O’Malley (right), of Lake Ann, unveiled a bipartisan road repairs plan today to give local communities more flexibility to improve roads. O’Malley, chair of the House Transportation Committee, was joined by Rep. Tim Sneller, of Burton, who also authored legislation in the plan and serves as the committee’s minority vice-chair.