Whitmer expected to address road funding in State of State speech
Lansing — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is set to deliver her second State of the State speech on Jan. 29, her office announced Monday.
Whitmer is expected to introduce a new proposal aimed at financing the repair of the state's roads and bridges around the time of her annual address after the East Lansing Democrat's plan for a 45-cents-a-gallon gas tax increase sputtered in the Republican-led Legislature.
The first-term governor has blamed Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, for failing to negotiate a road funding plan that could generate around $2 billion a year more for badly needed infrastructure fixes.
The governor is scheduled to address as joint session of the Michigan House and the Senate in the House's chambers at 7 p.m.
Republican legislative leaders have expressed optimism that a deal can be reached but insist a new road funding plan should include assurances that all taxes paid at the pump go to roads, find savings in the existing budget and reduce vehicle registration fees.
In her first State of the State address 11 months ago, Whitmer tried to forge a bipartisan tone by calling for cooperation amid divided government but warning lawmakers against “passing phony fixes” to major problems. The governor identified crumbling roads, struggling K-12 schools and other “crises” as her priorities.
But budget talks eventually stalled over road funding, resulting in Whitmer vetoing almost $1 billion in funding and transferring another $625 million within state departments. She and Republican legislative leaders agreed on restoring more than a third of the $947 million she vetoed or transferred.
Whitmer ran on a "fix the damn roads" platform during her 2018 campaign.