potholes highland park

FILE: Potholes in Highland Park (Photo: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

Senate Panel Cuts Whitmer's 45 Cent Gas Tax Hike From Transportation Budget

April 23, 2019 - 5:00 pm

LANSING (WWJ) - Republicans in Lansing are just saying no to the governor's plan to hike the gas tax to fix the roads.

Voting along party lines, a Senate subcommittee approved $132 million in accelerated funding for roads in the 2020 transportation budget, falling far short of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's call for $1.9 billion per year. 

The panel threw out Whitmer's request for a 45 cents a gallon gas tax increase

"I think this budget is a sound budget right now with the revenues that are coming in," said GOP Senator Peter MacGregor of Kent County. "If we decide to do something different down the road with trying to reach our goals of road funding, that's the time when we increase the budget. But you can't budget money you're not receiving."

Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) called Republicans on the panel "cowardly" and "chicken." 

"So what we know is the roads will continue to decline without a substantial increase in funding, and yet that's what we're proposing," Bayer said.

((Lawmakers Past And Present Place Odds On Passage Of Whitmer's 45 Cent Gas Tax))

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said he'd expect to get about $4 million of that $132 million for his county. 

"We're thankful we're gonna get it," he told WWJ's Sandra McNeill."...But that gets me two lanes, or two miles of a one lane road. So, really, it's woefully, woefully inadequate."

Hackel remains optimistic, however, that lawmakers will find a solution. 

"It is the number one problem in Southeast Michigan, not just Macomb County -- funding roads so that we can fix 'em," he said. "So I gotta believe that they're going to come up with another plan. Unfortunately, for those who don't want to raise taxes because they want to get reelected, they're going to have to find some way of increasing revenues."

In a statement, the governor said the Senate panel's budget would do nothing to fix the state's crumbling roads; and, if it reaches her desk, she will veto it. 

Senate Republicans have said they plan to outline an alternative road funding plan this summer, although no details are known at this time. 

If Whitmer's gas tax increase were to pass it would make Michigan's gas tax the highest in the nation, at over 70 cents a gallon.