Michigan House Budget Includes Cut For Public Transportation

A proposed state budget that cleared the house Thursday includes cuts to public transportation across the state.

Lawmakers are trying to figure out how to balance the budget and find money for roads.

But the plan includes about $30 million in cuts to public transit.

Wexexpress in Wexford County says this proposal would mean major cuts for them and their routes.

Carrie Thompson is the executive director of Wexexpress. She says they would lose around $200,000 under the budget proposal the Michigan house passed.

“Losing $200,000 in a budget would mean cuts. It would mean cuts to routes. It would mean cuts across the board to make up for that amount. The other thing they sometime forget is for every dollar that comes in with state money, especially when it comes to capital for bus projects, you lose $4 of federal money as well,” said Thompson.

She says if they were forced to make cuts, it would come at a time that ridership numbers are breaking records.

“Here in Wexford County we are experiencing record high numbers in ridership. Last month we had 14,400 rides that was a record for us we’re doing about 150,000 rides a year which is up about 40,000 rides in the last year so we’ve had huge increases,” said Thompson.

Northern Michigan representative Jack O’Malley voted for the bill, but says he expects the funding for public transportation to be fully funded in the final budget.

“I think people need to understand, and I’m not real thrilled with this, but I understand this is the first step in a process, the house has a budget, the senate has a budget, and the governor has a budget. They are all going to come together and then negotiations start,” said O’Malley.

And Representative O’Malley says budget negotiations could continue for the next several weeks and into the summer.