Michigan budget talks came to an abrupt halt between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican leaders after a compromise for the gax tax could not be reached. Eighteen days remain for state legislators to pass a budget to avoid a government shutdown.
Michigan’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said Whitmer ended budget talks after they were not going anywhere. As the Michigan Star previously reported, Whitmer decided to put gas tax talks to the side so a budget could get passed.
“A negotiation must include parties that put forth genuine effort to compromise and reach consensus,” Shirkey said in a statement. “We could not have predicted that our talks would break down over my governor wanting less money to fix the roads, but in the end, we could not accommodate her position.”
— Sen. Mike Shirkey (@SenMikeShirkey) September 11, 2019
Shirkey also added that the Republicans want to direct $500 million from the general fund to roads.
Whitmer issued a response after the Senate Majority leader released his statement.
“Republicans wasted two months by going on vacation this summer instead of staying in Lansing to negotiate. That’s the only reason we don’t have a budget right now,” the governor said. “After months of inaction, the best plan they could come up with would steal money from other priorities and doesn’t fix the roads,” she said.
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) September 11, 2019
Whitmer’s plan to fix the roads includes three separate 15-cents gas taxes that would raise a total of $2.5 billion for Michigan. However, the previous GOP counteroffers included cutting $400 million in current state government, refinancing the state’s public school employee retirement system to make 850 million in sales tax on gasoline available for the transportation fund, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.
A few weeks ago, GOP leaders presented this "consensus roads plan" to @GovWhitmer (two Capitol sources confirm). Every option to remove sales tax on gasoline and replace it with tax-neutral gas tax ($850M) involved refinancing MPSERS pension payments and cutting $400M elsewhere. pic.twitter.com/p1TFqFPM41
— Chad Livengood (@ChadLivengood) September 9, 2019
Michigan House Appropriations Committee Chair Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) accused the governor of “playing games” and said the Michigan legislature is “moving forward to pass a fiscally responsible state budget.”
Michigan Speaker of the House still remains hopeful a budget will be passed with a plan to fix the roads.
“The House has said from Day One that we need to ensure we have record funding for roads and schools, and we’re not backing down from that commitment,” he tweeted. “It’s what the people want. I look forward to working with anyone who shares those goals to get a budget done. Let’s work together!”
The House has said from Day One that we need to ensure we have record funding for roads and schools, and we're not backing down from that commitment. It’s what the people want. I look forward to working with anyone who shares those goals to get a budget done. Let’s work together!
— Lee Chatfield (@LeeChatfield) September 11, 2019
Forty percent of Michigan roads are in poor or mediocre condition, according to a TRIP study, which is a national transportation research group. Also, the study found Michigan’s current roads cost the state $14 billion annually.
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