State Senator John Bizon, M.D. from the 19th District, visited Hastings City Hall Friday to talk with constituents. About 30 people were in the Council Chambers for the hour-long meeting.
Bizon and his Chief of Staff, Jake Jelsema gave their opinions and outlook, told how to appeal to state agencies for help in some situations and were invited to come back again.
The public had a wide variety on questions, including revenue sharing to cities, child abuse prevention funding, recreational marijuana, the opioid crisis, trust in government, young people vaping, PA 116, Firekeepers Casino revenue sharing, propane price gouging, rural internet accessibility and insurance and health care costs.
The first 25 minutes were devoted to Michigan’s roads and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 45 cent increase on gas taxes, “to fix the damn roads.” Bizon said he had 150 telephone calls about the plan, with one person supporting it; he contacted 87th District Rep. Julie Calley and said she had the same experience.
Bizon said the need for money came because roads are expensive, the state doesn’t use technology and innovation as much as it could and doesn’t enforce contractor’s warranties when roads don’t live up to expectations. Some states and Canada use rubberized asphalt that is initially more expensive to lay, but last twice as long, so costs half as much, he said.
“We need to talk to other states and further explore that,” he said. Barry County’s Road Commission lets some roads go back to dirt which costs less to maintain. Bizon explained Act 51, the formula that distributes gas taxes for roads, noting the framers made it to benefit rural communities like Barry County.
The latest increase in the gas tax and fees dedicated to roads was also used to pay down debt, something Bizon did not agree with. “I was the only one who voted against it…I thought it was bait and switch telling constituents that it would all go to roads.”
State Senator John Bizon, right, listens as his Chief of Staff Jake Jelsema answers a question from a constituent.