December 16, 2014 - Last week, SEMCOG held a news conference to have local elected officials tell members of the state legislature how they felt about both the House-passed and the Senate-passed transportation funding legislation. It should not be a surprise that local government leaders favor the Senate-passed version of the bill. Why?
- The Senate-passed bill raises more dollars.
- The Senate-passed bill raises more dollars in a shorter period of time.
- The Senate-passed bill raises new dollars and does not take from any other state programs.
- The Senate-passed bill distributes the dollars through the existing Act 51 formula, so for the first time since 1987, public transit will see an increase in state funding.
Mayor Mike Duggan, County Executives Mark Hackel and Bob Ficano, Mayor Bryan Barnett from Rochester Hills, Supervisor Dan O’Leary of Washington Township, and Paul Hillegonds, Chair of the RTA were among the speakers who made the above points.
The House-passed bill does none of the above; it raises fewer dollars, takes more time, and takes money away from schools and government revenue sharing and public transit.
So where are we today?
The Senate rejected the House plan and sent it to a Conference Committee of the House and Senate. At this stage, the issue is being debated behind closed doors by the legislative leadership and the Governor. If they can reach a solution, that plan would go to the Conference Committee which could choose to just rubberstamp the deal and send it on to both the House and Senate to approve in their full sessions. At that point, the Conference Committee report cannot be amended and must be voted on as “yes” or “no.” If it passes in both chambers, it goes to the Governor for his signature. If it does not pass in both chambers, the issue of new funding would die and new legislation would have to be introduced again in 2015.
So, we are now pretty much at the mercy of whatever “deal” can be made between the Governor and Senate and House leadership. However, you can still influence the final agreement. Phone calls and emails this week to your legislator will keep the pressure on them to reach a deal that is good for us all.
We are close. Call and tell your legislator to pass the Senate-passed bill. Do it today!
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