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Michigan Governor Vetoes $375M for Roads

Wed October 02, 2019 - Midwest Edition #20
Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) Michigan won't be spending $400 million in general funds to boost its roads and bridges after Gov. Whitmer vetoed $375 million from the state budget Sept. 30.

Under a budget bill approved on party-line votes Sept. 24, majority Republican lawmakers lauded the record funding level and Democrats criticized it as inadequate.

The transportation budget and 14 other spending bills total $44.7 billion in proposed funding. The next budget year begins Oct. 1.

"If signed into law, Michigan would [have spent] more in the coming fiscal year on roads than at any other time in our state's history," said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, citing a net $373 million, or 7.4 percent, boost. "And we'd be doing it without a 45-cent gas tax increase."

The linchpin of Whitmer's budget proposal was a 45-cents-a-gallon fuel tax hike, which is dead. It would have generated $1.9 billion more for roads than is called for under current law.

She and legislators tabled long-term road-funding talks to focus on the budget, then also hit an impasse on short-term road spending during budget negotiations.

Democrats opposed using $400 million in general funds — a routine practice in recent years, but one they said is a Band-Aid approach that effectively hurts other spending, including on education.

Michigan ranks second to last nationally in per-capita road spending. Whitmer has warned that without a major investment, the number of roads in poor condition will double, from 22 percent to 44 percent, in the next five years.