The 2016-17 season was the first year the Michigan-based electric car company launched a car program called Carmen Electras 2020, which was meant to help the state raise about $1.5 billion for roads and bridges in the state.
That money would be used to make new electric and hybrid cars for Michigan residents.
But in the first six months of 2019, the state lost more than $700 million on its $6.3 billion electrification plan, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Michigan lawmakers passed a bill last year that would allow for the use of state and federal funds for electrification projects.
But the state is still fighting with the federal government to ensure it doesn’t lose any money.
The state’s finance department recently sent a letter to the Federal Highway Administration saying it would be able to get some of the money back if it could prove it could get the state to spend the money for electrifying roads and highways, rather than simply pay for it.
That has left the finance department to decide how to spend its remaining $1 billion on electrification.
But it’s unclear if the agency will ever get that money back.
“We’ve been working to get that back, and it’s a little bit frustrating,” said state Sen. Greg Kustoff, R-Houghton, who is a member of the Senate transportation committee.
“There are a lot of questions around what we should be doing and who should be responsible for it.”
The state is looking at the potential of a loan, which would likely be repaid with some of that money.
But if the state does not find a way to return the funds to the federal Treasury, it could lose them altogether, Kuston said.
“The best way to make sure we get back some of those dollars is for the federal agencies to get involved, and to actually make sure that the money isn’t spent, because it’s going to be wasted,” Kustofon said, adding that he wants to see the federal funds returned to the state so he can work with lawmakers on what the best way forward is.
Rick Snyder, R, spoke about the financial hit during a news conference on March 4, 2020, in Lansing, Mich.
(Photo: Dave Wasinger/AP) The Department of Economic Opportunity has also said it needs to determine how much of the state’s remaining $600 million in federal highway funds are still available to the fund.
The agency has said it is reviewing the situation and will likely have to find a new solution to keep the money flowing through the state, but Kustin said the issue is likely not resolved until that process has begun.
Michigan’s finance office has sent letters to the agencies that oversee the fund and is looking to determine if there is a way the funds can be returned, he said.
The Michigan Department’s Office of the Attorney General is investigating whether the state should seek reimbursement from the federal Transportation Department for the lost funds.
If so, it will have to determine whether the amount it needs is actually what the agency was asking for or if there was another funding mechanism that could have saved money.
Kusto said he wants the department to investigate that.
“That’s going a long way toward finding out exactly what happened,” he said, pointing out that the department is not alone in this issue.
“It’s not like we have a bunch of other states that are just going to look at what’s going on and decide they don’t want to go forward with the program because it doesn-t work,” Kuster said.
But he said he would not blame the finance office for taking a look at the issue, saying the agency is not responsible for making that decision.
“They have a very limited ability to do anything because of their own budget constraints,” he added.
“What we need to do is be careful not to get into situations where we just don’t know what the facts are, or what the answer is.”