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No New Road ‘Revenues’ In GOP’s Planned Budget

April 16, 2019

After days of trying to define what Senate Republicans plan to do regarding new funding for Michigan’s crumbling roads, a clarifying moment Thursday morning produced the following: Their budget will have more road funding dollars, but not from new revenues.

“(Gov. Gretchen Whitmer) is on the record with your (the MIRS) podcast saying we need more funding for roads in the budget. And the Majority Leader agrees with her that there should be additional funding for roads in the budget,” said Amber McCann, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake).

McCann went on to describe the “more road funding” in Shirkey’s vision of the budget as dollars coming from sources already in the budget, such as using more of the General Fund for roads and other shifts.

Her remarks came after Shirkey had spoken to reporters following Thursday’s Senate session.

“We’re making progress, but it’s a slow thing,” Shirkey said, regarding the road funding issue. “We’ll start from the bottom and build up. So, I’m pretty excited about it. It will be substantial. It will be dramatically different than the 45-cent gas tax increase.”

However, the reporters remained unclear about the “new funding” Republicans were now saying would be part of the budget and Shirkey’s continued insistence that his approach was to tackle the state’s road funding issue separately from this year’s budget.

Finally, a reporter asked if a good way to explain the GOP position might be to say: “There will be new road funding in the budget, but the issue of ‘new revenue’ for road funding would be approached as a separate issue?”

“That’s a great way to put it,” McCann responded.

“If we come up with a roads plan, that goes beyond the Fiscal Year ’20 cycle,” McCann had explained earlier. “In my mind she (Whitmer) really baked the budget by putting the roads plan together with, ‘This is my top priority and I’m tying it with the budget.’

“It’s a clever way to assure that we could fail by not going along with her,” McCann continued. “The Majority Leader rejects what she has put out as this unnecessary marriage of these two issues and is saying, ‘I agree with you, we need more money for roads, [but] I’m not looking at it the way you want to do it. I’m looking to do it a different way. I want to have the discussion separately.”

MIRS asked if keeping the new revenue for roads conversation separate from the budget means the revenue issue wouldn’t be subject to the Sept. 1 deadline that’s required for passing the budget.

“It won’t be subject to the fiscal year deadline,” she affirmed.

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