Runestad testifies before Senate panel on his bill maximizing local road funds

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Jim Runestad testified Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on his bill that would help maximize local road funds.

Senate Bill 518 would require all federal transportation funds received by the state to be spent at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), except funds specifically allocated at the federal level for local jurisdictions or funds allocated to local jurisdictions through a competitive process.

“Certain restrictions, reporting requirements and other red tape that all come with federal transportation funding make it much more difficult for local agencies to work with this money than it is for large state departments, such as MDOT,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Local agencies will be able to focus their resources more efficiently with the state handling all federal transportation funds and reporting requirements.”

SB 519, a companion bill sponsored by Sen. Michael D. MacDonald, would use state funds to replace the federal dollars directed to MDOT under SB 518 — directing funds from the State Trunkline Fund to counties, cities, and villages.

“We need to give our local transportation agencies the most flexibility when it comes to critical road repaving and repairs so they can put your gas tax money where it is needed most,” Runestad said. “The non-partisan Senate Fiscal Agency estimates that this could save between 20% and 30% for local units of government. That could result in up to $80 million saved state-wide each year. Imagine how many more miles and lanes of pavement we could get in exchange for reduced compliance costs and overhead expenses.”

Both measures are part of a 10-bill package aimed at improving the way roads are built and taking a more comprehensive look at improving the state’s utilization and oversight of road funding.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at SenatorJimRunestad.com. Click on “Photos” under the “In the News” tab.