Whitmer to propose 45-cent increase in gas tax

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — New Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who campaigned on a bold plan to "fix the damn roads" in the capital of the U.S. auto industry, will propose nearly tripling the state's per-gallon fuel tax, her office said Monday.

The Democrat's budget proposal, which will be a tough sell in the Republican-led Legislature, would boost the 26-cent gasoline and diesel tax by 45 cents by October 2020. The tax hikes would coincide with relief "to help offset the cost to people's pocketbooks," which Whitmer will discuss further when she presents her spending plan Tuesday, said spokeswoman Tiffany Brown.

Whitmer also will outline a proposed $500 million increase to state K-12 classroom spending, including a $180 boost in the minimum per-student grant and substantial funding hikes to teach low-income, vocational and special education students.

She wants to boost the 26-cent gasoline and diesel taxes by 15 cents in October, an additional 15 cents in April 2020 and 15 more cents in October 2020. That would generate an additional $2 billion annually.

A top GOP lawmaker, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, did not rule out a tax hike to better fund roads and bridges but said his initial priority is lowering the high cost of car insurance in the state.

"He'd first like the governor to work with him and his caucus to save families money by reforming car insurance," said spokeswoman Amber McCann. "Then he would entertain having a discussion about new revenue for roads."

Higher fuel and vehicle registration fees took effect two years ago as part of Republican-enacted laws to gradually pump $1.2 billion more annually into transportation — following a failed ballot initiative — but many agree it is not enough new spending. Four former legislative leaders from both parties have said fuel taxes should be increased by 47 cents over nine years.

Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of the state's top executives, on Monday urged legislators to act. President and CEO Doug Rothwell stopped short of backing a specific proposal but said the roads "are an embarrassment," are getting worse and becoming more expensive to fix.

"We are not an organization ... that likes to talk about raising taxes, and we don't take that lightly at all," he said. "But we're on record saying that we need to make a significant increase in investment in our infrastructure, and that we believe user fees — which could be a gas tax — is the best and fairest way to do it."

The state Republican Party criticized Whitmer, however, saying her proposal would "break many Michiganders' budgets."

Michigan drivers pay some of the country's highest taxes at the pump, but not all of the revenue goes to the transportation budget. The sales tax on fuel mostly goes to schools and local governments under the state constitution.

Whitmer also will call for new "weighted" K-12 funding formula to factor in higher costs for certain students, according to details first reported by The Associated Press. The plan includes $235 million in additional base aid — a 2.5 percent bump — along with $120 million more for special education, an extra $102 million for economically disadvantaged and other at-risk students, and $50 million more for career and technical education students.

Whitmer's administration is billing it as the largest increase in classroom spending in 18 years, if state payments for retirement costs are not counted. It was not immediately clear how she will propose paying for the plan, though she has previously called for stopping the practice of shifting K-12 funds to universities and community colleges.

The minimum per-student allowance — which most districts receive, including charters — would increase from $7, 871 to $8,051, a $180 increase. Districts at the higher end would get $8,529, or $120 more than the current $8,409 allotment.

Her plan was applauded by the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, which called it a "huge step" toward addressing how education has become underfunded over decades .

"It doesn't cost the same amount of money to educate every student, and this budget proposal reflects that reality," said president Paula Herbart. "Additional funding for at-risk, special education and career/technical education puts additional funds where they're needed most to help all students achieve."

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  • We the people

    When will people get it that they are using this fix the roads thing to get money for bogus stuff, we have frost and frost causes our roads to crumble, they are not going to do any thing different with the roads and we are stuck paying this tax for nothing, people think when whitmer and her liberal posse say fix the roads that they will replace every road that is bad, not the case people WAKE UP AND SEE THROUGH THEM!

    • Greg Krause

      Have her donate her pay and actually use the lottery proceeds to pay for roads and schools and tax the new marijuana law to fund roads not hurt the already hurting lower class families

  • Ken

    Way to go you dumb flipping Dems! Way to vote in more taxing upon us hard working conservatives! Don’t worry we will take care of you because we are not afraid to work harder for what we get!!

  • mr obvious

    Typical Democrat. Says they are for the middle class but wants to tax the little guy that needs gas to get to work.

  • Kevin Thomas

    Dummy!! She’s a pawn! Redoing the marijuana agencies too, wonder who that favors. Now asking for a half billion in school money. Typical Democrat, raise taxes..

  • Matt McCartney

    So………People who are mobile, and go to work everyday, are about to be punished for driving to work (and paying taxes) meanwhile, lazy people sit at home. Hey Gretch, why don’t you instead, deeply slash the social gospel programs in this state. MI hands out a phenomenal amount of cash annually. Investigate that and cut hard where you can.

  • Urge

    All you people who voted for her I hope you are happy. This is one of many times the taxes have been increased to fix the roads! When will it end??

    • carole brinkert

      WHEN WE EVER GET AN HONEST POLITICIAN! Change the rules, we need transparency, We have a list of priorities, if they are not accomplished, then they are fired! The Gov. works for us, an we need to make them honest, and work!

  • J.B.

    Fix the damn roads…
    Ok! We will just make it too expensive to drive on them!
    The perfect example of a Democrat solving your problems.

  • Susan coller

    .45 tax? Really? To fix roads? Didn’t seem to work the LAST time. What makes you think it will THIS time? Frustrating. Once again feels like John Q public is gonna get ” you know what”. 😬

  • C

    This insanity is brought to you by the Democrat Party and any fool that voted for this woman. Anybody with a brain knew this was going to happen, and this is just the beginning. This is going to increase prices at the pump, obviously. But wait until the prices of everything else we buy goes up because the cost of transportation of goods costs more. And anybody that relies on tourism for their livelihood ought to be scared to death. She’s going to destroy any progress the state has made under Snyder, and as I said, by proxy, anybody that voted for her are responsible.

  • DaMailman

    So after the state rakes in all this gas tax money the contractors will just jack up the bids on state road projects which they’ll then funnel back to their favorite political lobbyists.

  • We the people

    I told everyone i saw to hold onto your wallets when she got elected, she had been in office how long and look at all the tax increases she wants to do. Just liked granholm she is going to blow us away

  • MEGA

    IMPEACH her! Another democrat load of sh@t. Detroit elected her, let DETROIT pay the tax. Anyone who voted for witless should pay the tax.

  • Greg Krause

    Have her donate her pay and actually use the lottery proceeds to pay for roads and schools and tax the new marijuana law to fund roads not hurt the already hurting lower class families

  • Kurt

    Awesome!! Why don’t you raise the insurance premiums too while you’re at it. Give us all more reason to move out of this state. The highest in the country for insurance and near the top for fuel prices already. Let me guess next you will ease the welfare rules and regulations so they can drive two cadillacs and buy t bone steaks while those of us that actually work for a living and pay out ways eat Mac and cheese and spaghetti.

  • Woody

    And you wonder why the founding fathers left women out of the process… Between this twit and AOC Hillary, Nancy, Those towel heads, and all the other idiot women infiltrating our government It’s time to repeal the 19th amendment.

  • Bud

    Whitmer plans to make Michigan residents pay the HIGHEST gas tax in the nation. We just had the gas taxes raised in 2015 to give us the 5th highest tax in the nation.

    Not ONE democrat voted to lower your federal income taxes and DEMOCRATS WILL NEVER LOWER OR GET RID OF A TAX – PERIOD. We’re still paying a Federal Universal Service Charge on every phone to bring the internet to some God forsaken place that the federal government cannot name.

  • Taxation without Representration - remember what happened last time!

    Can’t wait to retire and get out of this cesspool that her and Jenny GrandStand created with their tax the working and give to Detroit priorities!

  • steve

    A couple of questions….Specifically, which “damn roads” are going to be fixed? Interstates? Highways with an M prefix? Which ones? And what is the timetable for the roads to be fixed? The money will be collected in a very short time period. But, how many years is it going to take before taxpayers see the results of their “investment”?

  • Unslaved

    It’s interesting that people get so upset over a relatively small tax for gas when somewhere around 20% of their paycheck is stolen by the government to fund war, which doesn’t help anyone but the psychopaths selling the bombs.

    Interesting, but not surprising. Most people only care about whatever the TV tells them to care about.

  • Jeff Mock

    Complain all you want!!! She was VOTED into office by the same sorry crowd that is now COMPLAINING about taxes being increased and funds being misappropriated?!?! THIS is what happens whenever you VOTE a democrat into an office!!! SHOCKER!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Fish

    This witch is crazy, im glad all you dems voted for the plan a simple minded fact to “get a woman in office ” . The democratic party will be the end of the USA. You people are plan stupid. Thank you. Polling stations should be until midnight so the working class has time to vote,not just the ones looking for free hand outs and sit in mommy and daddy’s basement all day with no job

  • Rs

    A couple of years ago they asked us to vote on tax increases for the road. If we passed it they would make the company doing the roads guarantee their work and products. Why should we have to pay more for them to do quality work and use quality materials? Also why can’t they use the drug money the police confiscate from drug bust.
    If they increase gas taxes. Everything we buy is going to sky rocket in price. Food, furniture, automobiles, clothes etc. Then the economy is going to go down the drain again.

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