The House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Transportation this morning refused to provide Michiganders with more solutions to combat high gas prices by going against the governor’s funding recommendation for fiscal year 2012 and reducing public transportation funding by 8 to 10 percent.
The reductions – if not reversed in the full appropriations committees – ensure diminished options for more flexible, affordable transportation solutions in Michigan.
“It is unconscionable that the legislature would undercut these important options,” said Tim Fischer of the Michigan Environmental Council. “Michiganders are turning in increasing numbers to more reasonably priced transportation solutions,” Fischer continued. “This is a penny-wise, pound-foolish move by politicians who could have helped to provide relief to family budgets.”
To make matters worse, important complete streets language, including incentives for communities who adopt local policies, was stripped from the House version of the bill.
Representative Agema’s bill raided the public transportation fund – specifically the fund used to keep buses running – by $20 million. Representatives Dillion and LeBlanc were the lone votes against the proposal. They should be commended for their attempts to prevent the cuts.
Michigan’s highly successful Complete Streets policies also took a beating this morning. Representative Agema’s bill struck language that gave municipalities which adopt complete streets policies preference when applying for state non-motorized transportation grants. Sec. 321 stated:
In evaluating and awarding enhancement grants, the department shall give preference to applicants which have adopted complete streets policies. In addition, the department shall give preference to enhancement grant applications which further complete streets policy objectives. The department shall report to the house and senate appropriations subcommittees on transportation, and the house and senate fiscal agencies, on or before March 1, 2012, on the specific actions taken to comply with the intent of this section.
This language which was adopted in last year’s transportation budget offers an important incentive for local communities to adopt complete streets policies. Since its adoption last year, at least 24 complete streets policies across Michigan have been passed. In total 39 communities have adopted a complete streets ordinance or resolution – the most in the nation.
Also struck was Sec. 322 which stated:
Upon request of a university, the department shall-work with representatives of state public universities to assist in the development and implementation of complete streets policies on university road and street systems.
Voting in favor (anti-transit/complete streets vote):
- Dave Agema, Dist 72, Grandville, 517-373-8900
- Ken Goike, Dist 33, Macomb Co., 517-373-0820
- Nancy Jenkins, Dist 57, Adrian, 517-373-1706
- Phil Potvin, Dist 102, Cadillac, 517-373-1747
Voting against (pro-transit/complete streets vote):
- Brandon Dillon, Dist 75, Grand Rapids, 517-373-2668
- Richard LeBlanc, Dist 18, Westland, 517-373-2576
Senator Pappageorge’s bill slashed $15 million out of the public transportation fund. Senator Pappageorge noted that the cuts were beyond what was needed and what the Governor recommended, but wanted some “insurance” at the expense of public transportation users. Senator Anderson was the lone no vote.
The Senate version of the bill did not touch the above mentioned complete streets language.
Voting in favor (anti-transit vote):
- John Pappageorge, Dist 13, Troy, 517-373-2523
- Patrick Colbeck, Dist 7, Northville, 517-373-7350
Voting against (pro-transit vote):
- Glen Anderson, Dist 6, Livonia, 517-373-7350
The next stop in this budget process is for the full Appropriations Committees to consider the subcommittees’ recommendations. The cuts can be restored with amendments – that must be supported by the full committees. We encourage complete streets and transit supporters to take action today and contact your Representative to ask them to restore funding for public transportation and to prioritize transportation funding to communities with complete streets policies.