White House points to Michigan's D+ rating on infrastructure while pitching American Jobs Plan

Posted at 5:33 AM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 05:33:28-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Biden Administration is making their pitch to the American people and lawmakers for the American jobs Plan. The $2 trillion proposal is meant to improve infrastructure throughout the country, which means money towards Michigan roads.

“It would certainly be a welcomed addition given our needs, well-documented needs of under-investment in transportation in Michigan,” MDOT Director of Communications Jeff Cranson said.

The White House pointing to Michigan’s Infrastructure Report Card to make their case.

The Infrastructure Report Card is put together by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The grade here in Michigan is a D+.

Part of the reason for the grade, Michigan’s 1,219 bridges and 7,300 miles of highways are in poor condition. The report states since 2011, commute times have increased 4.6%, and that drivers pay $644 a year in driving costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.

What is still unclear with the American Jobs Plan is just how much money would come here to Michigan.

Nearly $600 billion is planned for transportation and infrastructure, including $115 billion towards repairing roads and bridges.

“We don’t know yet if they are going to use a typical authorization formula for that to decide if states get that, so if it is doled out based on population or miles of freeway or miles driven,” said Cranson.

Funding always becomes an issue when it comes to fixing the roads.

“The federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993, there is nothing else that you can buy now for the same price that you could in 1993, and yet we expect you know road departments both at the local level and the state level across the country to make that work,” said Cranson.

“I am not opposed to it, but yet I have some serious concerns with how we are going about it,” said Representative Jack O’Malley.

Jack O’Malley is a Michigan representative and the chair of the Michigan House Transportation Committee. He has concerns this plan will hurt taxpayers.

The Biden Administration discussing raising the corporate tax to supplement the plan. However, Republicans worry that could have a trickle-down effect on the average taxpayer.

The concern over hurting taxpayers was also raised when it comes to paying off the $3.5 billion in bonds Governor Gretchen Whitmer is using to fix state roads.

The other concern for O’Malley is fixing local roads.

“The governor bonds out for $3.5 billion to fix state roads, well what about the 92% of our local roads, the ones you drive on mainly? So my question now that federal money is that going to go to federal highways or is that going to go to Main Street?” said O’Malley.

But with no word yet on where this money will go, Cranson says funding local roads could be a possibility through the American Jobs Plan.

As for how to fund these initiatives, it’s a conversation that needs to continue into the future on both sides of aisle on a state and federal level.

“We welcome the money but we also welcome long-term sustainable solutions so we are not always waiting for the federal government to ride to the rescue,” said Cranson.

President Biden’s Administration is currently working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to push it forward. President Biden said this week that he's willing to 'negotiate' on the scope of the plan and how to pay for it.