Comprehensive Strategies to Tackle Michigan’s Infrastructure Challenges
Bringing local people to the table, taxing marijuana, and asking voters to approve a statewide bond issue to raise revenue for roads and bridges are just some of the concepts included in my package of ideas to fix Michigan’s infrastructure.
“The Flint Water Crisis should have never happened. Those responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”
Our roads, bridges, and state’s infrastructure are a gift passed down to us by thoughtful Michigan leaders long ago. Once upon a time, Michigan led the way in innovation, having a highway system that was second to none. By proposing long term solutions to our biggest problems with a year before the state’s primary election, candidates can begin to debate substance in the race for governor, not just throw platitudes at voters.
Some of my proposed ideas include:
- An immediate pledge as governor to not cut the state’s existing preventative road maintenance budget – Michigan must first focus on preservation as it works on revenue solutions to fix long unsolved problems.
- Ask voters in 2019 for a bond of up to $1 billion to pay for roads, bridges, transit, and infrastructure repair, paying attention to the state’s ongoing costs associated with its bonding cap.
- Pot For Potholes – Encourage citizens to make up their own minds when voting for a proposed 2018 ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana in Michigan. If the initiative passes, proceeds from this industry should then be split 50/50 into infrastructure and education.
- In concert with the State Legislature, the Federal Government, and local officials, implement long overdue ideas for public transit and infrastructure in Michigan:
- Restoring revenue sharing to cities, counties, and townships, dedicating those resources specifically to infrastructure needs so local leaders have a seat at the table and a say about fixing local issues.
- Work to fund high speed rail lines from Detroit to Chicago and Detroit to Traverse City, with central stops along the routes.
- Work with federal government to prioritize the expansion of I-94 to three lanes across Michigan.
- Double the state’s investment in autonomous vehicle research – Michigan will continue to be the hub of innovation in the world for this burgeoning industry.
- Establish truck routes across the state to minimize traffic tie-ups and ensure trucks have more direct routes to market for their goods.
- Create a legacy initiative to remove all lead service lines from municipal water systems statewide within a decade.
- Improve access to high speed Internet for rural and impoverished areas throughout the state.
- Seek opportunities for public/private partnerships to address roads and bridges – Companies and corporations that use the State’s infrastructure in greater proportions should shoulder a larger portion of the cost to repair it. Currently, corporations are not paying additional monies to solve this problem, but average citizens are paying increased drivers and licensing fees to foot the bill.
- Create a streamlined administrative entity modeled after the Public Service Commission – that regulates utilities – to set a course for the planning and implementation of infrastructure repair, setting priorities and making expenditures where necessary.
Somewhere down the line, leaders in Lansing forgot that this gift wouldn’t last forever. The roads package passed by our State Legislature last year –by anyone’s account – does not solve our long-term problem and places an undue burden on Michigan’s citizens. This detailed plan begins to address our challenges, and solve our road and bridge needs once and for all.
I also want to consider the notion of finding new revenue streams to support efforts that rebuild Michigan the right way, including implementing a progressive tax structure, seeking a fairer share of revenue from the federal government, and using the state’s ability to issue municipal bonds, as examples.