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Gov. Whitmer prepared to veto any budget without new money for roads

Massive pothole in the middle of a two-lane road.
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In a turn-around from earlier this week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she’s ready to veto budget bills that don’t raise new money for roads. Republicans in the Legislature have teed up budgets to be adopted and sent to Whitmer’s desk as soon as next week.

That’s after talks between the Democratic governor and GOP leaders broke down this week. The rhetoric tossed between the Democratic governor and Republican leaders has grown increasingly tense.

Whitmer says, “They gotta do what they gotta do. Then I’m gonna do what I gotta do.”

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey says the governor will have to decide whether to adopt a budget and then continue bargaining on roads. Or, he says, she can use her veto power, and risk a shutdown as the state goes into the new fiscal year without a budget.

“She’s got all of her options available to her," says Shirkey. "I can’t predict, quite frankly, based on the last few days of interactions, I can’t predict anything.”

Whitmer says she’s not backing down over new money for roads. And she says that includes a fuel tax increase.

"I’m going to be honest about the size of the problem, and I’m going to work to have real solutions," says Whitmer. "They are not serious about fixing the roads. They are not serious about negotiating budgets. And now we’ll see where this leads.”

Shirkey says he has not ruled out a modest increase in the fuel tax, but he says that would only happen once all other options are exhausted.

"I think we’re going to find that after we’ve done a very thorough job of prioritizing spending and evaluating our cash flows that we may still conclude that we’re a bit short."

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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