Thursday, November 3, 2011

Statement in Support of Governor Snyder’s Infrastructure Message

Co-Chair of Bipartisan House Work Group on Transportation will help move proposal forward

LANSING (10/26/11) – State Rep. Rick Olson (R-Saline), co-chair of the bipartisan house work group on transportation funding today issued the following statement on Governor Rick Snyder’s message on infrastructure and transportation unveiled this afternoon:

"I was pleased to hear Governor Snyder being bold and proposing up to $1.4 billion of new revenue to maintain our roads and bridges. The report Representative Roy Schmidt and I released as the Transportation Funding Work Group showed that we will need to spend at least $1.4 billion more on our roads and bridges to attain and maintain them 85% to 95% good or fair condition. As the report says, " The bottom line is: if the investments projected by these models are not done, either the deferred costs of maintaining our roads will be much higher OR we choose to accept lower quality roads. From a business perspective, the set of investments recommended is the lowest long-term costs of maintaining our roads."

I hope that my colleagues in the legislature will join with me in supporting Governor Snyder’s recommendation protecting citizens’ pocketbooks in the long-term, keep families safe on our roads, and creating good-paying jobs right now. I look forward to working with the Snyder administration and my fellow state leaders to move this bold solution forward in the legislature.

I am sure the legislature will want to fully vet this set of proposals just as it does every other executive branch proposal. But, based on numerous conversations I have had with Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle - both Republicans and Democrats - I sense a genuine desire to finally cure our problem of crumbling bridges and potholed roads on a bipartisan basis. After all, I don't recall ever hitting a Democrat pothole or a Republican pothole - only non-discriminating, non-partisan potholes.

Many of us in the legislature wish to be fiscally responsible, and not run budget deficits as is being done at the federal level. The simple truth is, to the extent that we fail to act and defer maintenance on our roads and bridges, that is exactly the same as pushing the expense onto future taxpayers - our children and grandchildren. I consider that irresponsible and feel we need to raise more revenue for our road and bridges, as much we know no one likes additional revenue proposals, even if they are user fees.

Some people may like this set of proposals because of the short-term construction jobs it will create. But I look upon it as a business decision - if we don't spend at least $1.4 billion more on preserving our roads and bridges, we will pay much more in the future. You know, "Pay me now, or pay me more later." as the oil change add says. That just seems like simple, American common sense.

One study says we are already paying for our bad roads, with an estimated additional cost of $370 per year per car to repair our cars' blown tires, bent rims, wheel alignments, etc. Last spring, I received an e-mail from a lady saying that she had had 14 cars turn into her driveway just that week to change their blown tires due to the potholes in Samaria Road.

The Governor's message also contained some proposed "best management practices" that are designed to make sure we are getting value for our taxpayer money spent. I am sure those will be carefully studied and perhaps expanded upon to make sure we are getting the biggest bang for our buck. Our taxpayers deserve no less."

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