LANSING, MI (WILX) — Millions of dollars that Governor Gretchen Whitmer took out of the state’s budget have been put back in, but that doesn’t include new money for roads, which is what started the whole budget fight in the first place.
The deal reached by Gov. Whitmer and Republican leaders restored funding for charter schools, local sheriff’s departments and veterans, but what was given back to the transportation budget is just a drop in the bucket of what it would take to fix the state’s roads and bridges.
Partisanship has proved to be an issue, and throughout the lengthy budget process, but the governor and the legislature are ending the year with a compromise. However, that compromise means that we’re entering 2020 without a long-term road funding solution.
Gov. Whitmer campaigned on fixing the roads, which is one of the reasons Erica Dethloff voted for her.
“You know, that was a good main factor. Absolutely,” Dethloff said,
Back in March, the governor proposed a 45-cent gas tax hike to cover the $2.5 billion bill that was dead on arrival in the legislature.
Senator Tom Barrett said legislators will look at ways to add money to the transportation budget without raising taxes.
“We can’t wait around for the governor’s 45-cent gas tax. That isn’t a real option to hold up what we’re working on for more comprehensive transportation funding,” Senator Barrett said.
Representative Julie Brixie, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said the state needs new sources of income.
“Fixing the roads is actually a very simple math problem. We know how many roads we have in the state. It’s not a mystery. We know how much it costs to fix them per mile and we have to have lawmakers that have the courage to move forward and come up with solutions,” Representative Brixie said.
Meanwhile, some voters are getting frustrated by the lack of action coming from the Capitol.
“I guess I don’t know what they’re doing behind closed doors, but as somebody that has to be out on the roads all the time, it doesn’t seem like there’s been much progress at all and there’s a lot of work to be done,” Dethloff said.
The budget agreement also restricts the governor’s power to move money around using the State Administrative Board and allows the legislature to reverse those transfers, but that only applies to this budget, but it’s likely to be an issue taken up again in the future.
There are still hundreds of millions of dollars in spending that the governor took out of the budget that needs to be dealt with.