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Calley: Road package will ‘take reprioritization’ of revenue

August 4, 2015

Administration sources have privately conceded since the May 5 defeat of Proposal 1 that a reshuffling of existing state revenue will need to be part of a final deal to come up with a long-term revenue stream for road funding.

Thursday, Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY acknowledged this point by saying a final deal with legislative leaders will also “take reprioritization within our current resources,” which some fear means cuts in other areas of the budget. 

During road funding negotiations last year, Snyder was pushing behind the scenes to raise all of the $1.2 billion in new annual road funding dollars through revenue increases, which is a reason Proposal 1 came into being, former House Speaker Jase BOLGER told MIRS Monday last week (See “Bolger: I Could Have ‘Lived With’ Senate’s 2015 Road Plan,” 7/20/15). 

Now that the House wants to raise only a little more than $100 million in new revenue for roads and the Senate is willing to do between $700 and $800 million, the Governor’s office has needed to walk back from the “all new revenue” position. An improving economy and state budget is helping with the pivot. 

“It will also take some real stretching when it comes to how we pay for the roads,” Calley said, but he did not use the term “revenue increase” as part of that comment. 

Dennis MUCHMORE, chief of staff for Gov. Rick SNYDER does. 

“It requires more dollars” and he says talks about that center on “user fees” as he acknowledges raising revenue has “always been difficult.” 

Asked about lowering the $1.2 billion target, Muchmore reported that is still the goal however, “It’s really up to them (lawmakers) to come up with whatever plan they feel comfortable with. And we’ll see if we can go along with it and support it.” 

Calley was quizzed on whether he would back a lower figure? 

“I’m not negotiating with you . . . all the options are on the table.” 

Senate Minority Leader Jim ANANICH (D-Flint) and House Minority Leader Tim GREIMEL (D-Auburn Hills) were, for the first time, invited into the legislative road talks on Tuesday as part of a conference call with all four caucus leaders. 

Muchmore said he is of the mind that, “You need everybody to pass it.  I don’t think you should try to pass a transportation package of this magnitude with just one party, but if one party is all that’s willing to step up to the plate, that’s what we’ll do.” 

As for when a final road funding package might come together, Muchmore offered, “the fall seems reasonable,” although he does note that lawmakers will be back for a couple of days in August. 

What about the notion that if it does not get done in the fall, it will be impossible once you move into the 2016 election cycle for house members? 

“I leave that to the wags in town,” the Chief smiled, while dismissing the notion. Reminded that he was a long-time wag himself, he confessed, “I’m not so sure on this issue that I know anymore than anybody else does.”

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