LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she still wants to “fix the damn roads” as she begins her second and final term, but now believes an entirely new financing system is needed to accommodate the growth of electric vehicles and the associated drop in gasoline consumption.
“I will not propose (increasing) the gas tax by 45 cents; I can say that unequivocally,” Whitmer told the Free Press on Tuesday during an interview in her Lansing office.
whitmer’A 2019 gas tax proposal failed in the Republican-controlled Legislature and became an issue in the Nov. 8 election, which Whitmer won by nearly 11 percentage points. GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon has repeatedly cited Whitmer’s gas tax plan to counter the governor’s boast that she hasn’t raised taxes. Dixon said it wasn’t for lack of trying.
There are Democrats is ready to take control of the House of Representatives and the Senate on January 1. But Whitmer, who will not be able to seek a third four-year term because of constitutional term limits, said she will not return to the massive gas tax hike as unfinished business.
“It will require major policy changes” that cannot come from one person, she said.
Funding for Michigan roads comes primarily from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, plus $600 million a year from the state’s general fund.
In 2020, Whitmer bypassed the Legislature to get The state transportation commission will issue $3.5 billion in bonds to help her speed up road repairs. She also used common funds and Michigan’s share of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill for expansion projects on Michigan roads long known for their poor quality.
But now a completely new approach is needed, she said.
“We’re going through a historic transformation from ICE (internal combustion engines) to EV (electric vehicles), and being able to build and maintain the infrastructure that can support this technology is something that every state in the country will struggle with,” Whitmer said. said.
“I think Michigan could show the world what a real solution looks like, but it’s not going to come from one person. It has to be a stakeholder effort, a bipartisan effort, to really develop an infrastructure system that is comprehensive and sustainable and can last.”
The use of gas-powered vehicles is declining across the country as electric vehicles become more affordable and easier to charge. In Michigan, so does Whitmer has made the transition to electric vehicles a central part of its economic development planteaming up with the Legislature to approve more than $1 billion in incentives for GM, Ford and other companies to build new manufacturing facilities related to batteries and electric vehicles.
Charging motorists based on how many miles they drive may be the fairest formula, but there are many questions related to the technology and how such a plan would be implemented, Whitmer said.
“There are thoughts about how it might make sense, but I don’t know if there is a perfect solution at this stage, and so I think we have to get the right people around the table, develop it, test it, and get it for it reliable support”.
The Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, an industry group dominated by road builders, is conducting research that could help lawmakers and others craft a new funding plan, she said.
Lance Binoniemi, MITA’s vice president of government relations, said Wednesday that a study is underway on how electric vehicles affect road funding, but the details are “not yet ready for public use.” Expect a report late this winter or early spring 2023, he said.
Whitmer also discussed:
Lame duck: She said there are several items she hopes can be accomplished during the legislative session, which runs before the new Democratic-controlled Legislature is sworn in in the new year.
At the top of this list is the legislation on move the Michigan presidential primary to February, from March.
“Michigan is an important state. We need to be a bigger player when it comes to national elections,” Whitmer said.
“It would be good to get it done” during the lame-duck session because “decisions will be made before the new year about which states are in which order,” she said.
“These decisions are made in the District of Columbia, but in order for Michigan’s position to benefit from this moment, we need to pass this legislation before then.”
An additional spending bill is also possible, but Republican leaders, who still control the Legislature, have not yet made clear how much they are willing to do during the lame-duck session, she said.
Using proposition 3 as an economic development tool: Whitmer said before the election that if the proposal to enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution passes, which it did, she wants to go to neighboring anti-choice states like Indiana and Ohio and “eat their lunch” by poaching big industry and talented workers.
Whitmer said discussions are ongoing to follow through on those plans. Plans will likely include TV ads and her in-person visits, Whitmer said.
“I’m excited about that prospect,” she said. “I think we’re going to have a powerful story to tell.”
Whitmer said she’s been invited to speak on many campuses outside of Michigan over the past few years, and now it might make sense to accept those invitations.
Foreign trade representative offices: Whitmer, who did only one foreign trade mission, to Israel in 2019, before the pandemic began, said she expected to announce trips to Europe and Asia during her second term. She said details are still pending from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
“I think it’s important for our state to have an executive tell the story and attract investment to Michigan,” she said.
Auto insurance reform: Whitmer acknowledged that bipartisan legislation she signed into law during her first term aimed to lower the cost of no-fault car insurance. has left many catastrophically injured car accident victims without adequate care.
Asked whether to expect a fix during her second term, Whitmer said, “I think the serious conversation will start early next year.”
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.