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Whitmer: To improve schools and roads, we need more revenue

Gretchen Whitmer

Potter Elementary School has no air conditioning. Signs taped to water fountains warn students not to use them because the water has not been tested for lead.

After touring the Flint school on Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says there’s not enough money for schools, just like there’s not enough money for roads. And she says the solution is to ask taxpayers for more revenue. She says bonding and borrowing are out of the question – especially as the economy shows signs of softening.

“That’s why I’m not entertaining any of those as solutions," she said. "We need to get this budget done. It needs to be honest. It needs to actually solve the problems that we’re confronting as a state.”

Whitmer says she’s still waiting for Republicans in the Legislature to offer an alternative to her plan to increase the state gas tax to pay for fixing roads. The governor says her proposal is a pay-as-you-go plan to fix roads – which is especially important as the economy shows signs of softening.

“It’s user fees. It’s the most responsible way to build a budget. You don’t borrow. You don’t make assumptions. You don’t bond off of pensions," she said. "Those are all dangerous things that we’ve all seen can create a catastrophe.”

Whitmer says the Legislature’s Republican leaders need to call lawmakers back to Lansing to start bargaining on the budget. Schools have already started their 2019 academic year, and the state’s new fiscal year starts on October 1.

State Senate Republicans plan to return to Lansing Tuesday. They will hold a closed-door session to talk about the budget and plans to fix roads. But no votes are expected.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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