NewsGetting Around Metro Detroit


Gov. Whitmer says 'your lives are going to be dramatically improved' if roads plan passes

Posted at 3:15 PM, Apr 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-19 15:05:19-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer campaigned on the promise that she’s going to fix the roads – but the governor’s gas tax plan has hit some speed bumps with drivers worried about paying more at the pump.

7 Investigator Heather Catallo sat down with the governor to get some of your questions answered about her plan to fix the roads.

She said she’s just as tired as you are of empty promises about the state’s crumbling roads. Earlier this year, she introduced a plan that will raise the gas tax by 45 cents per gallon. But, we wanted to know if it was the best way to raise the billions we need to fix the roads.

“I’m appealing to people in the metropolitan area to be a part of this and to call your legislators, Republican and Democrat alike,” she told Catallo. “Because your roads rise to the top of the priority list when we pass this budget. Your lives are going to be dramatically improved.”

Whitmer’s budget plan includes the 45-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase that will be phased in over a year starting in October.

That would bring the total state gas taxes to 71.3 cents per gallon. You’ll also still be paying Michigan’s six percent sales tax, which helps fund schools.

According to the governor, the taxes will raise the $2.5 billion needed each year to bring our roads back to good or air condition—and Whitmer says the gas taxes would constitutionally be required to only fund roads and bridges.

“Do you have a plan B if this doesn’t pass?” Catallo asked Whitmer.

“This is a real plan, and anyone who has a criticism of it who wants to put an alternative plan on the table, I welcome it,” Whitmer responded. “But I challenge anyone to find a better way to rise $2.5 billion to fix our infrastructure problem.

“You could go toward a corporate income tax but you’d have to triple it. You could raise the income tax but you’d have to go to a vote of the public, and then it would go in the general fund, and you’d have to pray that a future legislature would actually put the dollars into the roads,” she added. “This is a way of guaranteeing that every penny goes to fixing the problem.”

Michigan Department of Transportation Officials and engineering experts all say Michigan has invested in our roads far less than other states for decades.

If you compare Michigan to the other states, we are 46th in the amount per capita that we spend on highways,” Ron Brenke from the American Society of Civil Engineers said. “It may feel like we’re investing – like other states – but we are not.”

Michigan is about to make millions on marijuana, so why not use pot money to get rid of the potholes?

“Marijuana taxes are going to raise about $40 million for infrastructure,” Whitmer said. “So you think about $40 million compared to $2.5 billion – it’s just a tiny, tiny portion of what we really need to raise. We would still need to raise $2.46 billion.”

We’ll have more with Gov. Whitmer on 7 Action News at 6 p.m., when Heather will ask if she lied to the voters by not talking about raising gas taxes during her campaign.