Election 2018: Whitmer outpaces Schuette for win

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The Associated Press has declared Gretchen Whitmer as the winner of the race to be Michigan’s next governor.

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer upends years of Republican control in the state.
Whitmer, a former legislative leader, will succeed term-limited Gov. Rick Snyder.

The race between Gretchen Whitmer and Bill Schuette was as close as pollsters had predicted. During the final weeks of the campaign Whitmer held anywhere from a 14-point to a 4-point lead, depending on the poll and when it was taken.  In the end, the only number that mattered is the final vote tally.

Whitmer now becomes the second woman elected as Michigan governor.  Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, lead the state from 2003 until 2011.  Whitmer is not a stranger to political leadership, having been chosen as Michigan Senate minority leader in 2010, the first woman to lead a party caucus in the State Senate.

Whitmer has not promised to reduce the personal income tax rate in Michigan, although she has said she will eliminate the tax on pension income which has been in effect since 2012.  That would remove about $250 million of the state revenues, with the majority of that amount coming from the general fund.

She has also said she supports asking the Legislature for increased gas taxes or user fees but hasn’t given any specifics on dollar amounts.  If she is not able to get the Legislature to move forward on those increases, Whitmer has said she will ask voters to approve a bond issue to raise money for roads.

Getting more money out of tax payers for road repairs will be a bumpy ride.  In 2015 Republicans and Democrats combined forces to raise vehicle registration fees 20 percent and fuel taxes by 7.3 cents per gallon over several years.  Even with those hikes, most officials agree the money raised will fall far short of what will be needed to fix the roads.

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