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Congress Reaches Deal on Federal Highway Funding Bill

Wednesday, July 27, 2005   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nancy Brown
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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s Transportation Team applauded the announcement today that Congress has successfully negotiated legislation that could at long last provide more equitable transportation funding for the state. The conference committee agreement reached today will reportedly provide more than $200 million per year in increased resources for Michigan’s roads, bridges and other transportation systems.

“This is a critical breakthrough for Michigan’s transportation future and Michigan’s congressional delegation deserves a lot of credit for staying united and focused to see this issue through to its completion,” said Mike Nystrom, vice-president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) and co-chair of MTT. “We also recognize that Michigan will still be faced with a significant transportation funding shortfall and in the coming months our coalition will focus our attention on addressing these outstanding needs.”

House and Senate conferees reached an agreement on a conference report that reportedly would provide an improvement on the critical issue of minimum rate of return for donor states like Michigan — which send more federal gas tax money to the federal government than they get in return. It is expected the conference report will be finalized Wednesday evening and voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday and the U.S Senate this Friday.

It is also expected that the final version will help Michigan reach 92 percent guaranteed minimum rate of return. Currently, Michigan receives back 90.5 cents on every $1 of federal gas tax paid.

“This additional funding will help Michigan’s economy get back on track,” said Rich Studley, senior vice-president of government relations for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and MTT co-chair. “A safe, high-quality transportation infrastructure will help attract business and investment.”

Michigan’s Transportation Team, a coalition of more than 80 public and private organizations has worked for several years to raise awareness of Michigan’s transportation funding needs and push for a solution. The approval of a long-term federal transportation funding bill was their top legislative priority.

“The delay and uncertainty of funding has taken its toll on working families in Michigan,” said John Hamilton, business manager and international vice-president of Operating Engineers Local 324 and MTT co-chair. “This agreement means we have turned a corner and more work and good-paying jobs should lie just ahead.”

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