The Michigan Senate on Thursday, June 11, 2009 voted – along party lines – to gut public transportation funding by $11.5 million from the Governor’s budget recommendation. Amtrak was specifically targeted. Amtrak funds would be less than half of the amount required to maintain current service if this budget passes the House in its current form. This would undoubtedly mean that two of the state’s three lines would cease to operate by early spring, 2010.
The State House of Representatives is expected to vote on a similar budget bill soon. The budget needs to be signed by Governor Jennifer Granholm in order to take effect.
Senator Gleason’s (D-Flushing) insightful comments before the vote:
Today all indicators are showing that it is time we dedicate more resources and a stronger purpose toward mass transportation. And, yet, the budget before us today… will reduce Amtrak funding by $2 million; … A further difficulty is … reducing the number of days provided by Amtrak from seven to five.
In recent times, we’ve neglected the opportunity to put more people in the seats of Amtrak because we’ve never marketed that service. When you came to Flint, Michigan, you couldn’t even find where the depot was. So only a few years ago, we dedicated about $100,000 to market where you actually get on the train and how you utilize the services. … We’ve seen an immense increase in ridership and a greater increase in receipts for those who are riding Amtrak….
I think it is high time that we take serious our consideration toward mass transportation. Let’s do the right thing by putting more people in the seats of the mass transit opportunities. We are having intense conversations today in Washington, D.C., to find funding for light rail. At the same time, the conversations are being undertaken at our national level with our federal delegates. We are slashing the money which we are dedicating to mass transit right here today.
All Republican Senators voted in support of the budget except for Sen. George who did not vote. Two Democratic Senators – Jim Barcia of Bay City and Michael Switalski of Roseville – voted for the budget. The following is a vote break down from the Senate Journal, located at this link: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(qwvfgc450kf5n445vobjfibg))/documents/2009-2010/Journal/Senate/htm/2009-SJ-06-11-051.htm
Roll Call No. 242 Yeas—22
Allen Cropsey Kahn Richardville Barcia Garcia Kuipers Sanborn Birkholz Gilbert McManus Stamas Bishop Hardiman Pappageorge Switalski Brown Jansen Patterson Van Woerkom Cassis Jelinek
Anderson Cherry Gleason Olshove Basham Clark-Coleman Hunter Thomas Brater Clarke Jacobs Whitmer
George Prusi Scott