Published in Economic Development
(Courtesy file photo) (Courtesy file photo)

State lawmakers advance $4.7B infrastructure spending compromise 

BY Thursday, March 24, 2022 01:35pm

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the legislation’s passage in the House and Senate.

LANSING — A deal between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders will put nearly $4.7 billion toward infrastructure improvements across Michigan.

The compromise reached late Wednesday night — that lawmakers quickly introduced as legislation and approved Thursday by wide margins in both the House and Senate — would direct nearly $1.8 billion for storm and wastewater systems projects, addressing water contamination, and replacing lead water pipes.

Other major elements of the agreement include $316.6 million for road and bridge repairs, $250.6 million for grants for high-speed internet infrastructure in unserved markets, and $121.4 million to a homeowner assistance fund for people facing mortgage defaults, delinquencies or foreclosure on their home.

Another $382.9 million would go for emergency rental assistance for people who have “experienced significant financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of becoming homeless or of experiencing housing instability,” according to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of Senate Bill 565.

The bill includes $43.2 million for improving dams following the May 2020 dam failure and flooding in Midland. Of that amount, the state would spend $15 million on dam inspections and reviews and $28.2 million on risk reduction loans.

The head of Business Leaders for Michigan, a statewide roundtable of corporate CEOs and university presidents, said in a statement that the agreement and infrastructure investment will make Michigan “a stronger state.”

“This agreement will help improve the lives of thousands of Michiganders and make our state more competitive in the fight for job growth,” Business Leaders for Michigan President and CEO Jeff Donofrio said. “The investments to improve drinking water and fix roads, bridges and dams are critical for health, safety and economic growth, while the dollars allocated to housing and broadband will help remove barriers to economic success for many people in our state – opening doors for them to advance their education, enter the workforce and progress in their careers.”

A group of municipal leaders and business organizations, working as the Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan, said the “transformational investments laid out in this funding package will address some of our state’s most urgent needs including aging water infrastructure, housing and broadband access. Through this legislation, Michigan is building a strong foundation that will position our state for long-term growth and prosperity.”

The compromise deal would use $3.1 billion in one-time money from federal COVID-relief funds and $945.4 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Congress passed. The rest would come from state funding.

“These are tough times for families, small businesses, and communities, and this bipartisan supplemental will help grow our economy, create jobs, and invest in every region of our state,” Gov. Whitmer said in a joint statement with GOP leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees. “I look forward to signing this supplemental (spending bill) when it reaches my desk and continuing in this spirit of collaboration to pass another balanced, bipartisan budget that delivers on the kitchen-table issues.”

The supplemental appropriations bill also would spend $200 million for local park and trails grants, and $250 million for state parks and trails. As well, it earmarks $97.8 million for airport infrastructure grants.

S.B. 565 would direct $322.1 million for COVID recovery grants to local communities that could use the money for “assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits,” aiding industries that include tourism, travel and hospitality, and for investments in water, sewer, or broadband projects.

“By successfully working together, we’ve reached an agreement on historic funding to make Michigan an even better place to raise a family, live and work — and I look forward to seeing the results of these transformative investments,” state Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

Read 1517 times Last modified on Friday, 25 March 2022 09:45