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Tue February 18, 2014
Lawmakers Consider Emergency Road Funding
Emergency road funding could be coming after nasty winterBy Jake Neher A monster pothole season is upon us - and state lawmakers say they want to help. A state Senate panel on Tuesday added $100 million for road repairs and maintenance to a mid-year budget bill to help communities fix potholes and plow roads. Lawmakers say local governments need the help to offset the costs of constant snow removal and efforts to fix potholes caused by the nasty winter weather. "That warming and freezing will add to the problems that our counties, our villages, and townships, and state has in clearing our roads and keeping our people safe on the roadways," said state Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Township, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. "This money is needed not as part of enhancing the budget for 2015," said Kahn. "It's needed now, and it will be done now. And I think the support for that is overwhelming." The emergency money would come from a state fund for road projects. Some lawmakers say the state should also tap into a large budget surplus to help fix roads. But others say the state needs to figure out a long-term plan to fix its crumbling infrastructure - instead of always responding to crises with one-time money. "So we've got to face up that we've got a service that we're not providing, and it's costing," said state Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, who introduced the $100 million emergency funding measure. Governor Rick Snyder is urging lawmakers to boost road funding by more than $1 billion a year. But that kind of funding increase looks unlikely this year.