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WILL MICHIGAN TAXPAYERS FIX ROADS AND BRIDGES AND CREATE JOBS -- IN OTHER STATES?

 WILL MICHIGAN TAXPAYERS FIX ROADS AND BRIDGES AND CREATE JOBS --
 IN OTHER STATES?
 LANSING, Mich., Nov. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Michigan taxpayers will fix more roads, bridges and bus systems -- and create jobs -- "in other states" unless the governor and Legislature pass a state fuel tax increase that will help pump more federal funds into Michigan, transportation leaders said today.
 Without a state fuel-tax hike, Michigan cities and local road agencies will be short of matching funds to qualify for about $1.2 billion in new federal transportation funds earmarked for Michigan over the next six years. The additional federal dollars are in a bill aimed at funding the nation's highway and mass-transit programs, and creating 2 million jobs. Congress is expected to give final approval to the bill today.
 "How shameful and embarrassing it would be for the Michigan Treasury to have to stamp 'return to sender' on any of the $1.2 billion appropriated to this state for road and bridge repairs and for motorists' safety," said James Little, executive director of the County Road Association of Michigan, which represents the state's road commissions.
 Michigan cities and road commissions already are struggling -- cutting snow removal, laying off workers and delaying road and bridge repairs -- just to come up with matching funds for the most critical road and bridge projects. That's because Michigan's fuel tax of 15 cents per gallon, one of the lowest rates in the nation, has been frozen since 1984. Since then, road, bridge and mass-transit costs have skyrocketed while increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles have caused fuel tax revenues to plummet.
 "Finally, the Congress has agreed to return more of the federal taxes Michigan citizens pay," said David Osborn, director of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. "For years and years, our residents have been sending far more taxes to Washington than Washington sends back to us.
 "But unless our Legislature and governor do what's right and help us come up with matching funds, the federal government may as well just keep the new transportation funds, because we'll just have to send the money back anyway."
 Over the years, the federal government has returned to Michigan about 85 cents of every $1 paid in taxes. With the additional federal transportation funds, Michigan's return would improve to about 90 cents on the dollar.
 "Look, all we want is for Michigan to get its fair share," said Osborn. "If we don't, the bottom line is Michigan tax dollars end up paying for roads, bridges and buses in other states, while our transportation systems crumble."
 Michigan's public bus systems recorded more than 101 million passenger boardings last year. Michael Bolton, president of the Michigan Public Transit Association, said buses will continue to age and deteriorate without more revenues.
 "Our public bus systems are the lone source of transportation and the only link to the world for tens of thousands of senior and handicapped citizens," said Bolton, of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. "Our buses carry thousands of college students to class. They take commuters to work, and they help the working poor get to their jobs. It is unconscionable that our elected leaders would flatten the wheels to the world for so many."
 Lawrence W. Martin, executive director of the Michigan Road Builders Association, reaffirmed that a state fuel-tax increase is long overdue and critically needed.
 "More than 80 percent of our roads and more than 30 percent of our bridges are in such bad shape, we have to either replace or fix them in this decade. Even with $200 million more a year over the next six years, we'll barely be able to meet these most pressing needs," Martin said. "Without an increase in the state fuel tax, Michigan is on the road to ruin."
 Martin noted a study by The Road Information Program, based in Washington, estimating that every $100 million spent on highway programs in Michigan creates or sustains 2,630 jobs and $46 million in payroll. That means $200 million in new annual funds translates to about 5,200 jobs for Michigan, $92 million in payroll and roughly $4 million in state income tax revenue to the Treasury.
 -0- 11/27/91
 /CONTACT: James L. Little of the County Road Association of Michigan, 517-482-1189; David N. Osborn of the Michigan Municipal League, 517-485-1314; Michael Bolton of the Michigan Public Transit Association, 313-973-6500; or Lawrence W. Martin of the Michigan Road Builders Association, 517-372-5130/ CO: County Road Association of Michigan; Michigan Municipal League;
 Michigan Public Transit Association; Michigan Road Builders Assoc. ST: Michigan IN: TRN SU: LEG


SB -- DE013 -- 7784 11/27/91 13:57 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 27, 1991
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