Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is saying that tomorrow is the day for the two Republican leaders to present their solution for fixing the roads.
And now there’s a new wrinkle that would force Michigan voters, and not legislators, to raise taxes to fix the roads.
“I’m going to be meeting with the two leaders tomorrow,” said Gov. Whitmer. “I anticipate they’ll be putting some solutions on the table finally.”
The governor was going into a closed door conversation with state employees earlier today but paused long enough to address a new wrinkle in the conversation on how to fix the roads and who should make the tough decision to raise new revenue for those roads.
Back in 1994, then Gov. John Engler got lawmakers to eliminate the property tax for funding schools.
Then, instead of lawmakers voting to raise the taxes to replace that lost revenue, they instead put an income tax and sales tax hike on the statewide ballot and the voters picked the sales tax.
The governor is not taking a stance as she doesn’t rule it in or out.
Gov. Whitmer: “We’ll see.”
Skubick: “Are you thinking about it?”
Gov. Whitmer: “I’m not thinking about it. I’m responding to your question.”
From a political standpoint shuffling the tax increase question to the voters, takes the lawmakers off the hook for doing it themselves.
The governor has some critical thoughts about that.
“I think it is abdicating the responsibility of the legislatures,” said Whitmer. “That’s what they’re hired to do. That’s what the people of this said said, fix the damn roads. They didn’t say go off and enjoy your summer and comeback and force us to do the heavy lifting.”
The two Republican leaders have not indicated what they will propose but the senate leader was looking at a 20 cent a gallon gas tax hike phased in over four to six years. But that doesn’t raise the $2.5 billion the governor wants.
As for that possible twenty cent tax hike and using the teacher retirement debt fund to raise some road dollars, Whitmer says, “that all depends on what the other pieces are. I’m not going to make our kids and our teachers pay to fix the roads.”
On the eve of this possible breakthrough meeting, the governor is still not happy about lawmakers not being in town this summer.
“It’s just insulting,” said Whitmer. “It’s maddening and it’s incredibly irresponsible.”