Operating Engineers 324 today applauded Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s vetoing of several items in the submitted 2019 Transportation budget that would have drastically impacted the state’s ability to move forward on infrastructure. This includes the veto of a section added to the boilerplate language that would have prohibited MDoT from awarding road contracts to union contractors with subcontracting agreements, a move that would have disallowed companies who complete 80-90% of current Michigan roadwork from bidding on future projects. Failure to veto this provision would have led to a drastic decrease in the amount of road and bridgework that could be completed, skyrocketing costs on those that could, and a massive layoff of Michigan workers.
“The inclusion of budget language interfering with private sector labor agreements and picking winners and losers before the bidding process has even begun would not have helped Michigan fix it’s crumbling infrastructure,” said Operating Engineers 324 Business Manager Douglas W. Stockwell. “It would have done the opposite, by undermining the fair bid system, lowering competition, forcing up costs, and in the end, it’s the taxpayers who would have suffered. The inclusion of the boilerplate language was not intended to fix our roads, it was included to satisfy a small number of political interests, and we thank Governor Whitmer for putting the interests of Michigan workers, taxpayers, and families first in vetoing it from the budget.”
Operating Engineers 324, which represents over 14,000 Heavy Equipment Operators in the state of Michigan, also commends the Governor’s veto of the “one-time” 390 million dollar road funding offered in the budget. Instead of finding a source for new, additional funds to invest in infrastructure our current roads and bridges require, the legislature punted on a full road funding bill. When Governor Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Report was issued in 2016, the findings were stark: it stated that an investment of 4 billion dollars – annually – over 20 years was the cost to restore Michigan’s infrastructure. The Republican-led legislature instead offered less than one-tenth of the dollars advised, for only one year, and only achieved that by robbing other vital services of funding.
“With this budget, the legislature has ignored the voices of Michigan residents who have said, resoundingly, they want the roads and bridges fixed. It is time to stop the shell game of robbing Peter to pay Paul and find a way to fund the repair that is desperately needed. Now that a shutdown has been avoided, we hope the legislature joins her in talks to find new funding sources and brings their own viable solutions to the table so that some progress can be made. The time for inaction has long since passed.”