LANSING, Mich. – If you think of Governor Rick Snyder’s third State of the State address as a road map for the upcoming year, you can think of the lawmakers in Lansing as the people using the map.
As they look at the map, there are certain markers along the way the governor wants to his legislators to look for. One such marker are Michigan roads. Gov. Snyder says he wants drivers in Michigan to help pay $1 billion to pay for repairs this year alone.
“Infrastructure is a very important thing of what we need to do,” said newly elected Democratic state representative Winnie Brinks from Grand Rapids. “My concern is that we aren’t asking middle class taxpayers to fit the bill.”
Rep. Colleen Lamonte of Norton Shores, another newly elected Democrat, said companies hauling their freight on Michigan roads need to pay more for upkeep. “Let’s make sure they are paying their fair share of the upkeep we need for our roads,” she said.
In response, West Michigan Republican representative, Lisa Lyons said she doesn’t have answers yet, but she looks forward to talking about it. “This isn’t about class, this is about everyone, especially with our roads.”
“The last thing I want to do is raise taxes, but it’s got to be something that is on the table,” said another Republican, Peter MacGregor from Rockford. “No one wants pay more, but look at the issue that is at hand.”
When it comes to education, the governor wants to focus on the youngest learners and make it a priority to allocate funds for preschool age students.
In response to that idea, Rep. Brinks said she was glad Gov. Snyder was talking about schools. “I’m glad he is talking about early childhood investment. I want to see how that is going to get paid for.”
“Our schools are struggling,” Rep. Lamonte said. “We have more schools operating at budget deficit than we ever did. If quality education is what we want, we need to find the political will to fund it.”
Rep. Lyons said she thinks the governor’s plan will work. “We also put $200 million back into the school aid fund, so I am a little perplexed at what they are getting at, because we are doing a great job of keeping that a priority.’
If any of the governor’s priorities are to survive this year and become reality, it will take lawmakers working together.