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Lt. Gov. Brian Calley revs up push for Michigan road money

Wednesday, February 13, 2013   (0 Comments)
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The way Michigan pays for its roads "built on an illusion" that it can be sustained with stagnant gas taxes and registration fees, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said Tuesday in Genoa Township.


Calley, a Republican, promoted Gov. Rick Snyder's push for more road funding and touted an uptick in the state economy at a Good Morning Livingston program at Cleary University.


Calley repeated Snyder's recent call for an additional $1.2 billion annually to improve Michigan's roads and bridges to "90 percent good" condition.


Calley said the cost to do the roadwork would more than double after 10 years and that doing the work sooner would create about 12,000 new jobs.


Snyder's road plan, which he has included in his proposed budget, would require a combination of gas tax and registration fee increases.


"We have an infrastructure that has been built on an illusion," Calley said, adding that roads are the "lifeblood, the artery" of Michigan's economy.


Also on the transportation front, Calley said a private concessionaire for a planned second bridge spanning Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, Canada, should be in place this time next year.


He said a U.S. presidential permit is also needed to move forward with the bridge project.


Calley said the phaseout of the personal property tax on industrial equipment, which begins next year, will put Michigan among the 10 best states to do business in the country.


He said Snyder's policies have resulted in more than $20 billion in debt reduction, $500 million toward the state's rainy-day fund and balanced budgets.


Calley said more than 1,000 business regulations determined to be unnecessary have been eliminated under Snyder, a comment met with applause by chamber members.


"Now, we're seeing opportunities to make strategic investments," Calley said. "We don't run from hard decisions in this administration."


Calley said Michigan for the first time in 30 years is investing in its future by paying down debt and focusing on balanced budgets and investing in education and the work force.


He said the Snyder administration is changing that course.


"Now, we can look back on 2011 as a turning point," Calley said.


Calley referenced signs of an uptick in the state's economy, including increases in personal income growth, lower unemployment and a population spike, as further news of progress.


Whether state policies are responsible for the growth is a subject of debate. Snyder's critics have argued that the resurgence of the automotive industry is primarily fueling positive economic news in the state.


Calley also noted improvement in scores in the latest Michigan Educational Assessment Program test results.


He outlined goals Snyder made in his proposed budget for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, including a proposed $130 million increase to early education over the two fiscal years. He said the funding increase for early childhood programs is the largest in Michigan history.


He said the state also needs to work with schools to better match job hunters' skills with in-demand industries.


Calley said the atmosphere in Lansing has been upbeat and cooperative since Snyder took office in 2011.


He noted partisan gridlock that often held up legislation and passing budgets under former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.


In the final years of Granholm's administration, Democrats and Republicans each controlled a chamber of the Legislature.


Calley recalled staying behind locked doors as a state representative for 24 hours while a budget deal was being ironed out.


Snyder has worked with an entirely GOP-led Legislature since he took office.


Calley is currently the youngest lieutenant governor in the country, and the second-youngest lieutenant governor in Michigan history.


He previously served in the state House representing Ionia County in the late 2000s, and before that was an Ionia County commissioner.


Good Morning Livingston is a program of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce.

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