Another indicator of the state’s ability to spend money on actual road work relates to the level of debt service. Michigan has borrowed extensively since 1997 to boost road spending over and above what was possible given limitations in fuel tax and registration fee revenues. Total debt as of September 30, 2005 was $1.575 billion, and additional bonding has been authorized since then to provide Jobs Today Program funding where the state provides money to locals to match federal funds available to them.

Table 9 summarizes debt service levels in absolute dollars during the current five year plan, and shows debt service as a percent of STF revenues, and as a percent of the capital expansion and preservation program.[84] Debt service for the STF ranges from $160 million in 2007 to $205 million plus beginning in 2009, before taking into account any debt added after September 30, 2005. As a percent of STF revenues, these debt service levels are in the range of 9.5 percent to 10.5 percent. However, as a percent of the money available to spend on the highway capital improvement expansion and preservation program, these debt service levels are quite high. In 2007, the debt service is equal to 11.9 percent of capital spending, by 2009 it equals 22.1 percent of capital spending, and by 2011 it equals 24.1 percent of the capital program.

Table 9

Table 9 - click to enlarge

Source: MDOT, State Long Range Transportation Plan 2005-2030 - Finance Technical Report, October 31, 2006 and MDOT, 5-Year Transportation Program: 2007-2011, November 9, 2006.