After signs of a compromise on road funding, budget talks stall again
The budget is the big news at the state capitol. The Republican-led state House and Senate have proposed $500 million in additional spending for the roads. Governor Gretchen Whitmer initially asked for $2 billion for the roads.
Representative Shane Hernandez, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, acknowledges that the roads are one of the main issues Michiganders want addressed in the state. And he says that a long-term road funding solution is still needed, but cannot be addressed in this year's fiscal budget.
"As the Speaker [Lee Chatfield] and I have said, since the very beginning of this conversation, we've both believe that the sales tax shift at the pump needs to happen. And that's part of a long term conversation," Hernandez said. "We're dropping that at the moment."
Governor Gretchen Whitmer counters that lawmakers had ample chances to negotiate terms of a road budget deal with her this summer.
“I put one on the table six months ago. The Legislature took an extended summer vacation, came back, pushed this off to the last minute, and now they’re cobbling together a budget without even negotiating with me,” Whitmer said.
The governor says her 45-cent gax tax increase is still on the table, but she is also open to hearing other options. However, the plans Republicans have put forth thus far are a "nonstarter."
There are other areas of the budget that Republicans and Whitmer disagree on in addition to road funding. They include money for higher education and the budget for Michigan's Department of Natural Resources.
This post was written by production assistant Catherine Nouhan.