Poll Shows Strong Voter Support for Environmental and Infrastructure Investments

Press Release

Date: Feb. 16, 2018
Location: Lansing, MI

Poll results released today by Gov. Rick Snyder show strong public support for two investment proposals to address clean-up of contaminated sites and repair of Michigan's aging water infrastructure.

The polling was conducted January 22 -- 25, 2018 by Mitchell Research & Communications in Lansing.

Michigan's successful Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) Bond, which was used to clean up over 1,000 contaminated and abandoned sites, has been depleted with no permanent funding replacement identified. Michigan has 3,000 more sites that need cleaning up to protect public health and return the land to beneficial use for communities and businesses.

At the same time, Michigan's aging water infrastructure is a problem that will only get worse if left unaddressed; sewer breaks, water main breaks, and lead service lines all pose a risk to human health as well as taxpayer wallets.

"Michigan voters clearly understand the importance of addressing our environmental and infrastructure needs sooner rather than later," Snyder said. "Poll after poll shows that fixing our infrastructure remains a top priority for Michigan residents. People are rightly concerned about the current condition of Michigan's water infrastructure, as well as cleaning up contaminated sites."

Results show strong support for two affordable fee increases. These include increasing Michigan's fee to dispose waste from $.36 per ton to $4.75 per ton to more closely align with the Midwest average, and a $5 per person water fee on large water systems.

Michigan's current low dumping fees make it cheap to dump waste in Michigan. The average fee is $5.30 per ton among other Midwest states, Wisconsin charges $13 per ton. Michigan is currently importing over 25 percent of its trash from other states and Canada.

In addition to supporting the fees, the overwhelming majority of respondents also said they would support legislators who voted in favor of them.

"These are environmental, public health and economic development issues and we must find a better funding solution to clean-up contaminated sites," said Department of Environmental Quality Director Heidi Grether. "Returning property to productive use will improve public health and increase property values, which helps all local communities in Michigan. Governor Snyder's plan also allows us to make significant headway every year without leaving the burden of paying for it to future generations."

While Michigan's CMI was successful, it was also costly for taxpayers. To finance $675 million worth of clean-up, Michigan taxpayers will have paid over $1 billion when including finance charges.

"Voters approved the CMI bonds back in 1998, but people who weren't even born yet will be paying for it until they are in their 40s," Snyder said. "I believe a pay-as-you-go system for these proposals is a far better approach than leaving behind debt for our children and grandchildren."

Mitchell Research and Communications Environmental Survey Results


88% of likely voters across party lines expressed high levels of concern regarding the issue of cleaning up and developing contaminated sites.
Before being given any information on the issue, a majority of voters (58%) said they would support a statewide ballot initiative increasing the "tipping fee" to pay for clean-up of contaminated sites.
After becoming informed about the issue regarding why it should be increased, support for a "tipping fee" increase to the basin-wide average amount jumps to 80%.
Voters expressed 80% support for a tipping fee. Conversely, when asked if they'd instead support a bond, support dropped to 42%.

84% of likely voters across party lines also expressed high levels of concern about the status of the state's water infrastructure.
71% of likely voters would cast their vote in support of a legislator who voted to support an annual $5.00 fee for water infrastructure.
79% would support a $5.00 fee if 80% of the funds were to be returned to the community.