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Some Democrats skeptical about proposal to fix roads

A state House Republican plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure is drawing criticism from some prominent Democrats.

The proposal seeks to boost road funding by about $500 million a year. That’s well short of the $1-2 billion most estimates say is needed to adequately address the problem.

Some Democrats say the plan could make passing a more comprehensive solution unlikely any time soon.

“Because if they act this year, people will say, ‘We did something,’ and the ‘something’ did nothing,” said Wayne State University Board chair and congressional candidate Debbie Dingell. “And what we really need is a plan to make this state competitive for the long term – and that is, fix our aging roads.”

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson says Gov. Rick Snyder should not settle for anything less than a full solution.

“These half-measures and small, you know, reaching small – just because of politics – because he can’t get it done politically, is ruining our roads, ruining our infrastructure,” said Johnson.

“There is some risk that it could allow politicians to say or pretend that they’re doing a comprehensive solution when it’s not even designed to be that,” said state House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel.

But Greimel says there are some “common sense” proposals in the plan that he expects Democrats to support. They include requiring more and longer warrantees on road work to avoid short-term fixes. Greimel says he looks forward to working with the House Speaker on the legislation as it moves forward in the House.

Gov. Snyder says the House Republican plan is a good start. But he says it is still critical to increase road funding further. Snyder’s goal of boosting infrastructure spending by more than $1 billion a year would probably require an increase in taxes or fees - a heavy lift for lawmakers in an election year.