Republican Leader from Monroe
Senate Majority Leader Richardville
Avoids Pot Holes to Deliver Good News
Michigan's economic health is vastly improved, yet finding money to pay for needed road projects continues to be a challenge, said State Senator Randy Richardville who trekked from his home in Monroe to speak May 21 to the Eastside Republican Club Forum at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.
Not long ago, he said, "Michigan was at one of its low points -- a lot of people moved out."
He attributed much of Michigan's turnaround to smart leadership. He said, "We have a very intelligent man as our governor."
Speaking of Governor Snyder, he noted that he graduated from high school early, the University of Michigan early, and had earned an MBA, CPA, and law degree by age 22.
"He took only six years to climb that 12 year ladder!" said Richardville.
Michigan Economic Recovery
Richardville ticked off a list of contrasts.
Instead of a 14.5% unemployment rate, today's Michigan unemployment rate has improved to 8.5%. Under the previous administration, Michigan hadn't been able to deliver a balanced budget on time, faced a $1.8 billion deficit, ranked 50th in economic prospects, and suffered from a declining population.
By working together, he said, "We'll have a complete FY2014 budget by June 1 with a projected $702 million surplus."
The largest share of that surplus would go toward road projects, he said.
Under new leadership, he said, Michigan's economic recovery is now rated second in the nation, and the State has seen its bond rating improve.
In addition to the new governor, he pointed out that voters elected a Senate comprised of 26 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
Today, he reported, Michigan is a more business-friendly state than Indiana and any of the other midwestern states.
Yet Michigan's roads, chiefly due to the mitten's clay soil, continue to deteriorate faster than they can be repaired, he said.
The Michigan Senate majority leader reported that polling shows 94% of respondents agree that Michigan roads are bad, yet only 24% indicate a willingness to pay more to maintain them.
Michigan road funding, he said, has been crippled by inflation. He said Michigan continues to collect the same 19 cents per gallon it has since 1997, while the federal tax per gallon is now 33.5 cents.
He noted that the shrinking purchasing power of the dollar since 1997 leaves Michigan with an annual road budget shortfall of $1.0 billion. Richardville said that if not addressed, the annual shortfall would double in the next ten years.
Richardville said that one proposal is to generate more road funds through increased registration fees and a State road tax levied at the pump.
He acknowledged it's a tough political call, and to make such hikes palatable it would be necessary to find other taxes that could be reduced.
One candidate for reduction could be elimination of the State sales tax on gasoline. This could make sense, he said, because even though collected at the pump, those sales taxes aren't dedicated to road repairs.
University of Michigan Regent Andrew Richner, who introduced Richardville, told the Forum that the U of M campus was "united in opposing unionization of graduate assistants" as attempted last year by labor organizers.
He credited the Senate leader's legislative action for thwarting the money grab that would have driven up costs and student tuition.
Serving Since 2006
Selected by fellow-Republicans as Senate majority leader, Richardville was first elected to the Michigan Senate in 2006.
Prior to his election to the Senate, Richardville spent three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives where he held a leadership position during each of his terms, serving as the House majority floor leader during his final term.
Prior to election to public office, Richardville was employed in the business community where he has 20 years' experience in Fortune 500 companies. Immediately prior to election to the Senate, he served as economic development director for the Port & City of Monroe.
For years, Richardville has been active in several community organizations. He is a former member of the Monroe County Planning Commission, the Michigan Education Trust Fund board of directors, and the Monroe Family YMCA board of directors.
Richardville earned a finance degree from Albion College, and later earned his Masters of Management from Aquinas College.
The Eastside Republican Club Forum is normally held on the third Tuesday of the month from September through June. Admission is free and the public is always welcome.