Does Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s budget proposal stand a chance?

Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 18:20:21-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Does Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s budget proposal stand a chance?

Tuesday in Lansing Governor Whitmer told the house and senate appropriations committees about her state budget plan. She wants to increase the budget by 3.6 percent.

“That general fund is the same size as it was twenty years ago,” she said. “Let that sink in.”

She says the increase would help improve education, water quality, and the roads. She wants lawmakers to increase spending on roads by with a 45 cent gas tax put in place over the next three years.

“The whole goal here is to get to a spend level of $2.5 billion dollars on our roads. If the majority leader or anyone else has a plan that can get us to that point, we can still fix the roads,” said Whitmer.

“Not capable of passing. There is just no way,” said Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Macomb County) of the governor’s plan as proposed.

“I am already hearing from my constituents who say they don’t want to pay a higher tax,” said Sen. Jim Runestad (R-Oakland County).

As they will tell you Republican lawmakers, who control the legislature, are simply not on board with this plan. Senator Runestad, who is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, says he wants to look for wasteful spending to find money to improve the roads.

“We are going to have to go through the entire budget looking for inefficiencies,” he told WXYZ.

Senator Lucido wants to see the law changed so that registration fees stay in the county they come from. Right now those fees are redistributed to fund road repairs around the state. He says the most populated communities lose out.

“Keep the registration fees in the counties where the cars are registered and we will have enough money to fix the roads in those counties,” said Lucido.

The press asked Gov. Whitmer about such a change.

“That is maybe something that should be done at the appropriate time, but it is not something we are taking on right now,” said Whitmer.

Lucido acknowledged that politically such a change would be challenging, as rural lawmakers would be opposed.

“Anybody could have said just raise the taxes and we will make this happen,” said Lucido. “This is not going to happen on my watch.”

When reporters asked the governor if she thought her plan stood a chance, she said, “This is day one of the budget process.”