Fuzzy math? MDOT, White House jobs numbers don’t match

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jul 22, 2014

MICHIGAN - The Michigan Department of Transportation is trying to sort out a contradiction in numbers with the White House.

It comes as the Obama administration tries to pressure Congress to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent.

The discrepancy is over just how many workers would be impacted if no solution is reached.

“Right now, in 2014, we're good,” said Jeff Cranson, MDOT spokesman. “We've planned our cash in such a way that we can pay our contractors.”

The White House says nearly 18,000 jobs could be impacted in Michigan.

“Over time, you'd be talking thousands of people,” Cranson said. “You're not talking about government employees; you're talking about private industry. I'm not sure how the White House extrapolated those numbers”

Cranson says the White House may be using jobs numbers from local projects to calculate its number.

By MDOT's calculations the exact number is closer to 11,000 jobs – next year.

According to MDOT’s five-year plan, the state will invest $1 billion to support more than 12,500 jobs in 2015.

If the federal money were to dry up, the state would reduce the program to $183 million, supporting about 1,600 jobs.

There are three main elements that make up funding:

  • Highway Trust Fund: $1 billion
  • State Fuel Tax: $946 million
  • Vehicle Registration Fee: $876 million

State numbers only add up to $2.8 billion, short of what Michigan needs to operate at the current level.

“The industry will tell you it's more like $1.5 to $2 billion that we need as a state in additional investment, just to maintain what we have,” said Cranson. “We have to decide what kind of state we wanna be.”

Cranson says if the money doesn’t come in, road work in 2015 will have a different look.

“You'll see maintenance and that's about it,” Cranson said. “You won't see major rebuilds of roadways. You'll see your roads continue to crumble. In a few years, if we don't solve this as a state - let alone at the federal level - we're going to be at 50 percent good or fair pavement.”