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Spending bill with $175 million for roads heads to governor’s desk

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Pearl Pirie
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Roads, flood damage repairs, and an investigation could get money sent their way soon. The Legislature sent a spending bill to the governor’s desk today.

Every lawmaker in the House and Senate voted in favor of the bill. The big ticket item is roads – $175 million spread out to cities and villages, county road commissions and state road preservation and projects.

“For the roads, it’s probably been the worst Michigan winter we’ve had in 15 to 20 years when you look at the freeze and the thaw, the freeze and the thaw," said Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt.

Democrats say it’s not enough. Their amendments to add more money for roads were shot down in the Senate.

“You know, we agree we need more money for roads, we just think we need a lot more," said Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint. "And we think budgets are priorities and it’s important to make sure people are safe. So we’re going to keep fighting for that.”

According to the Department of Transportation, it costs an average of $3.2 million to reconstruct one lane of one mile of freeway. But non-freeway and rural roads cost less.

There's also $1 million for the investigation into Michigan State University.

The Attorney General’s office is in charge of the investigation. It’s looking into alleged mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints at the school. The investigation started after multiple women said they reported former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar for sexual assault, but the school did nothing.

“We will be staying tightly within that budget," said attorney general spokeswoman Andrea Bitely. "There could be some costs that come directly out of the Department of Attorney General but we’ve budgeted this to come in right about $1 million for the investigation.”  

Bitely says the money would be used to pay for salary and costs for employees assigned to the investigation – including special prosecutor Bill Forsyth’s salary. Forsyth is set to earn over $12,000 a month for leading the investigation. 

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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