Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
GRAND RAPIDS December 16, 2014– It’s time to fix Michigan’s roads. It’s time to pass legislation that funds road repairs without taking money from our schools and communities.
That was the message from Michigan Labor groups in downtown Grand Rapids this morning. Local labor and city leaders gathered in Calder Plaza to urge Lansing lawmakers to pass legislation that will raise new revenues to fund road repairs, instead of diverting money from existing education and mass transit funds.
“We want our roads fixed, however, not at the expense of our schools and public services,” said Louis DeShane, member of ATU Local 836 and a city bus driver, who also invited House Speaker Jase Bolger to get on a bus with him and see just how bad the city’s roads are.
“Drivers’ backs are aching at the end of shifts because of the bumps and potholes on the roads,” said DeShane.
Recently, the Michigan Senate introduced a bi-partisan bill which would fund road repairs through a balanced approach, combining gas fees and traffic fines for overweight and over-sized vehicles. It was well-received on both sides of the aisle, as well as from local government leaders across the state
But then, Michigan House Speaker Bolger and House Republicans introduced an alternative bill which would divert sales tax funds from our schools, community services and mass transit to patch the road situation.
Legislators from both sides of the aisle, the governor, the labor community and municipal leaders all agree that Bolger’s plan is wrong for Michigan, and that the senate solution is the best, most efficient way to fix our crumbling roads.
Rosalynn Bliss, second ward commissioner for the city of Grand Rapids, also spoke at the Calder Plaza rally, and she described how Bolger’s plan would set back Grand Rapids’ schools if education funds were diverted to fix roads.
“The Bolger Plan would cost Grand Rapids Public Schools another $7 million per year and would stop their significant transformation in its tracks,” she said.
Bliss said the best plan for Michigan’s economic recovery is the senate’s road bill, and it’s time for legislators to stop delaying and to pass it.
“The Senate’s action to invest new dollars comes at the right time of economic recovery for the state,” she said. “Road conditions in Michigan have gone from bad to worse. Investment in the state’s road infrastructure is critical for continued economic recovery of our urban centers.
“Dependable and predictable investment is crucial so that we can rebuild our road construction industry and rebuild our roads.”