Skubick: Candidates for governor differ over paying for road fixes

Michigan

Since fixing the state’s crumbling infrastructure is the top issue this election year, it was a hot topic in last Friday night’s debate for governor. 

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Bill Schuette made their cases for what they would do to fix the roads.

The handshake that began the debate does not mean Bill Schuette and Gretchen Whitmer agree on how to fix the roads. Not even close.

Whitmer wants the legislature to raise user fees.

Schuette’s road plan does not include any tax increase.  Instead he wants to squeeze money out of MDOT with an audit.

He wants warranties and guarantees on the quality of the roads but has no specifics on how to do it.

And he is hoping his relationship with the president will result in more federal highway dollars for Michigan and “we have $1.2 billion planned to invest in the roads by 2021. I’ll make it a priority to add to that number.”

He would take money away from other parts of the state budget but has no specifics on where the cuts will be made.

Ms. Whitmer rejects that notion as B.S. “It’s going to cost 3 billion dollars. To say you’ll find the money in the budget, an economist recently described that as b.s. and I don’t think he was referring to his initials.”

“Theres a warning signal that she wants to raise your darn taxes,” Schuette responded.

Then they got into whether she has called for a hefty gas tax hike.

Schuette:  “Gretchen Whitmer wants to have a twenty-cent gas tax increase.”

Whitmer: “That’s ridiculous.”

Schuette: “No, it’s not.”

Whitmer: “It’s nonsense and you know it.”

Schuette: “No, that’s what you said.”

Ms. Whitmer says she’ll ask lawmakers to increase user fees and if they don’t she’ll ask the voters to approve a ten-year, $20 billion bonding program to do the job, which Mr. Schuette opposes.

As for his own road fix program, so far Mr. Schuette has not revealed how much money will be raised by his four-point proposal, including those undisclosed state budget cuts.

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