Where’s Whitmer? Secretly in Ludington pitching a bad idea.

April 12, 2019

Gov. Whitmer speaking at West Shore Community College in February.

Where’s Whitmer? Secretly in Ludington pitching a bad idea.

Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer was in Ludington today. Did you know that? Probably not. In fact, not many people knew it because she has been operating in stealth mode when she travels to visit us rural folk on the western side of the state. Supposedly Gov. Whitmer is a west side person, like she claimed when she came to West Shore Community College back in February. Like today’s meeting, her February meeting was limited to a select few “community leaders.”

Whitmer, a Democrat, is out trying to push her budget and the fact that she wants to raise your gas tax 45 cents a gallon in order to fix the roads. It’s likely the reason she doesn’t want to meet with the general public here in northwest Michigan is because she is also trying get around a state law that directs how state road funds are dispersed. Instead, she wants to spend more money in the urban areas and less in the rural areas. She wants to put the $2.1 billion in new funds, generated by hiking the gas tax, so the money is distributed to reconstruct and maintain the most highly traveled roads — which means you get to enjoy even more potholes on US 31.

State Representative Jack O’Malley, a Republican who represents Mason County, is the chairman of the House Transportation Committee. He said Whitmer’s plan isn’t going to happen. O’Malley was invited by the governor’s office to today’s meeting, which was nice of her since she forget to invite our local representative to her previous visit at the college.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield R-Levering, has been quoted saying that Whitmer’s gas tax proposal is a non-starter and that there isn’t a problem with the formula used to disperse money but rather a road funding problem. Chatfield, like O’Malley represents a northern Michigan district.

Now keep this in mind. You already pay 26 cents a gallon fuel tax, which goes towards fixing the roads. Funds also come from the state’s high registration fees. Whitmer’s proposal would keep that existing road and bridge revenue the same, which includes 39 cents from each dollar going to the Michigan Department of Transportation, 39 cents to county road commissions and 22 cents to cities and villages.

In her new proposal, she would operate outside of Public Act 51, which oversees transportation funds. The split would be based as a share of line miles: 47 percent to interstates and freeways; 30 percent to the most heavily traveled non-freeways; 7 percent to highly traveled roads that are mostly locally owned; 7 percent to roads that are almost completely under local control and connect to neighborhoods and the local street network; 4 percent to local bridges; 3 percent for transit, rail and mobility services; and 2 percent for uniquely significant rural roads that serve major agricultural or manufacturing facilities.

“That gas tax, if implemented the way she’s proposing, would kill northern Michigan,” O’Malley said. O’Malley said Whitmer spoke to a room of about 20 people and gave a sales pitch. She then answered a couple token questions and moved on.

O’Malley said the governor spoke briefly about education and water as well, but mostly focused on the road tax.

It was, however, nice to hear that the governor took time to eat lunch at House of Flavors, investing a little in our local economy.

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