Gov. Whitmer hopes bipartisan auto insurance bill leads to deal on fixing roads

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is hoping the bipartisan auto insurance reform bill will spur a deal on fixing the state's crumbling roads.

Whitmer signed the auto insurance reform bill into law on Mackinac Island on Thursday morning, along with Republican leaders who helped negotiate the bill before it passed both the Michigan House and Senate last week.

During her speech at the signing, Whitmer said she hopes the bipartisan effort on auto insurance will carry over into a budget deal to fix the roads, which was one of her biggest campaign promises.

“I am proud to have worked alongside Senate Majority Leader Shirkey, Senate Democratic Leader Ananich, Speaker of the House Chatfield, House Democratic Leader Greig, and all members of the legislature to solve a problem that has been hurting Michigan families for far too long," Whitmer said.

"We still have more important work ahead of us, and I have no doubt that we can seize on this momentum to pass a strong, bipartisan budget that fixes the damn roads.”

Back in March, Whitmer unveiled her proposal to fix the roads with a 45-cent increase in the gas tax, which would make Michigan's fuel tax the highest in the U.S.

Related: Why doesn't Michigan have toll roads?

Michigan's Republican-led Legislature has said they won't support the tax increase. Senate Republicans plan to outline an alternative road-funding plan this summer.

The $2.5 billion plan would increase the 26-cent fuel tax by 45 cents between this October and October 2020 and guarantee that the additional revenue is targeted to more heavily traveled roads. To alleviate the burden for some motorists, she proposed a tax overhaul under which retirees and low-income earners would get breaks while more businesses would pay a 6 percent tax instead of the lower 4.25 percent personal income tax.

“No one likes to raise taxes,” she told lawmakers during her first budget address as governor. “I wish I didn’t have to come here today and put this budget before you because I know it’s hard. But the hard truth is we got to get to work. Every day we don’t we are jeopardizing our economic future, wasting our money and endangering our people. No more shell games and half measures. Here’s a real plan.”

Whitmer told reporters at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Thursday that she hopes to have a budget deal in place for road funding this summer.

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