Republican lawmakers in Michigan are working to keep the high-stakes rail project from leaving the state.
They’re working to protect local communities from losing the line.
The high-tech rail line is the most important infrastructure project in the state, and Gov.
Rick Snyder (R) has been vocal about how much it would benefit communities around the state if it were built.
A key hurdle in the project’s development is funding.
There’s been a $4 billion funding gap since 2014, and the state is looking for an additional $1 billion to help with transportation costs.
That money has been put on hold while Congress looks to make funding available to cover a new federal program that would allow states to use tax dollars to pay for rail projects.
The GOP-led legislature passed legislation to reopen the funding gap in 2017, but the Republican governor has refused to consider it.
The state Senate voted unanimously in February to approve $2.7 billion in state funding for the project, but lawmakers on the House side of the chamber are holding off on final passage until the Legislature can make sure the project is funded.
That means the House has yet to pass the bill.
If they do, the project will move forward without any of the state’s lawmakers.
It is unclear when the House will vote on the legislation.
The House Appropriations Committee voted to hold off on voting on the bill until the new federal funding is approved, and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Southfield) says he’s still awaiting the results of the study the state released on Monday.
“There’s not a lot of time,” Bosma said.
“If there’s not an answer, we’re going to wait and see.”
While the state Senate is currently holding off, the House Appropriations committee will begin voting on House Bill 776 on Monday afternoon.
That bill would open up the federal funding for rail infrastructure projects.
It would allow the state to use that money to fund transportation projects in its localities, and would allow it to approve bonds to pay those bonds.
That would allow localities to purchase high-frequency rail trains and increase funding to keep that train from leaving their communities.
The Republican-led House passed that bill in January, but Democrats have been holding up on the issue until the study was released.
That study is being spearheaded by former Transportation Secretary Steven Roth, who is also a Republican.
Roth is working to pass legislation that would ensure the state can use federal funding to pay off the $2 billion in funding gap, but his plan hasn’t gotten any traction in the House.
Bosma said he hopes to have the study ready by the end of the week, but that could be pushed back because the House could be split on it.
“That could be another week or two,” Bosmas said.
The House and Senate are also working on a different proposal to open up $3 billion in funds for infrastructure projects, but it hasn’t been made public.
That’s because it is part of a larger $7.7 million transportation fund that the state has put on the back burner in order to avoid a $1.4 billion shortfall in funding for state transportation projects this year.
The Michigan Department of Transportation said in a statement that it will “continue to work closely with the House to ensure that the high speed rail line remains in Michigan.”