Governor Gretchen Whitmer kicked off a tour to sell her proposed budget with a speech to business leaders in southeast Michigan. In her address to the Detroit Economic Club, the governor said she’s standing by her call for a fuel tax increase to pay for road repairs.
She said road spending has grown too reliant over the past two decades on transfers from the state’s general fund. At the same time, she said, general fund revenue has remained steady.
“This is important because, while the cost of everything else has increased over that same 20-year period, our ability to deliver the crucial state services has not grown at all,” she said.
Whitmer said that takes money away from other priorities, such as schools and health care.
“And so this is the challenge that we have, and this is precisely what inspired me to lead last year with a real fix to keep roads out of the general fund, so that these precious dollars could be spent meeting the fundamental needs,” she said.
The Whitmer administration will sell bonds to handle the most urgent repairs. But she says new revenue will have to become part of the discussion at some point.
Whitmer also mentioned during her speech that she’s headed to Washington this weekend for a meeting of the National Governors Association.
Part of the itinerary is a dinner at the White House with President Donald Trump.
“I’m having dinner at the White House. I’m curious where I’ll be seated this year. Last year, I was seated at the head table next to President Trump. I don’t know. This year, I might be closer to the door,” she said, to laughter from the audience.
Whitmer delivered the Democratic response to the President’s State of the Union speech earlier this week.