Legislature Passes $4.8 Billion Infrastructure Spending Package

The state legislature sent nearly $5 billion of spending bills to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.

Mainly built around infrastructure and water, it is the biggest supplemental bill passed in the COVID era. For the past year and a half both parties have laid out proposals on what the state should be spending their federal COVID relief dollars on and both sides have agreed they need to be long-term investments but little of the money has been spent before Thursday.Infrastructure Spending Pkg 3 24 2200 01 10 14still001

“I don’t know if I’m comfortable pushing this large of a bill, I don’t know how anybody could be,” said Rep. Ken Borton, a member of the Appropriations Committee, “But I’ve got confidence in the people who have been working on it that we did the right thing.”

In a plan agreed to by both chambers and the governor, before even being voted on, the state is shelling out $4.8 billion to provide clean drinking water, rebuild dams and bridges,  renovate parks and boost broadband. Most money from federal COVID relief dollars but some state surplus as well.

“For instance, a large chunk of that goes to the repairing and and restoring the dams that we had up in the Midland area,” said Rep. Thomas Albert, Appropriations Chair, “That was $250 million of state funds.”

Northern Michigan will see an impact with those dams, the replacement of lead pipes and other small projects.

“It also had a large portion in for the potash plant over in Hersey, in Osceola County,” said Sen. Curt VanderWall, “You know overall you can always pick goods and bads out of any supplemental. I think overall this is really good for the state of Michigan and it’s going to spur some economic opportunity.”

That was the key, opportunity moving forward. Even the lead negotiator wanted to make sure such an expensive plan would be worth it.

“They effectively mortgaged our children’s future to pay for these so we want to make sure that our grandchildren and children are going to be able to utilize these,” said Albert.

This leaves the state with about $2.8 billion of that federal COVID relief money left and there are no solid plans on what to spend that on.

According to a breakdown of the bill from the House Republicans, the plan will include:

 

Safe, clean drinking water 

Michigan families deserve to know the water they’re drinking is safe. 

  • More than $1 billion to provide safe drinking water, including special assistance to combat PFAS and replace lead lines in Benton Harbor and other communities 
  • Additional $712 million for the ‘clean water’ grant and loan program, including assistance to protect public health and fix failing septic systems 
  • $50 million for ‘healthy hydration’ stations in schools and child care facilities 

 

Dam safety

Upgrading aging facilities will protect people and property across Michigan. 

  • More than $300 million in additional support for repairs at high-risk structures, including $250 million for disaster relief and dams in Midland and Gladwin counties that failed in 2020 

 

Road repairs and transportation upgrades 

Better streets, highways and bridges are on the horizon without tax increases or adding to debt. 

  • More than $380 million for road and bridge repairs, including pump stations to prevent flooding 
  • Additional support for airports, public transportation and other projects 

 

Parks, recreation and tourism 

Enhancing our parks system will make communities across Michigan better places to live and visit. 

  • $250 million to fix up state parks and recreation areas 
  • $200 million in new projects for local community parks 

 

Technology and energy 

Rural Michigan communities deserve better ways to power their homes and connect with the internet. 

  • $250 million to expand broadband into more Michigan communities 
  • $25 million to make low-carbon energy like natural gas more widely available 

 

Community and economic development 

Essential public services and affordable housing are cornerstones of healthy communities. 

  • $322 million in COVID relief and $46 million to protect communities from falling revenue that impacts critical services 
  • $100 million to help develop duplexes, townhouses and other ‘missing middle’ housing options 
  • $50 million for home repairs and energy efficiency upgrades 
  • Nearly $140 million to fight fraud, improve service and stabilize the unemployment insurance trust fund 
  • $500 million for rent and mortgage assistance