News Story

GOP Reminder Of Whitmer’s 45-Cent Gas Tax Hike Proposal Called ‘Bad Faith’

Story forgets that Republicans passed and she vetoed a $375M no-tax-hike boost to the road repair budget

“Fix the damn roads” may be the most remembered promise from Democratic candidate Gretchen Whitmer’s successful 2018 campaign for governor. In the 2022 gubernatorial campaign, Republicans are looking to make an issue of Whitmer’s failure to follow through on that promise.

The Detroit Free Press published a March 29 news story criticizing Republican ads about the governor’s record on road repairs. In it, the news outlet quoted a long-time Michigan pollster and political consultant who characterized the criticism as a bad faith attack.

The Detroit Free Press article stated, “The ad is largely a bad faith attack, since Republicans rejected Whitmer’s 2019 proposal to significantly increase the state fuel tax to boost road funding, and the GOP never offered a counter-proposal, said pollster Ed Sarpolus of Target Insyght in Lansing.”

The story did not mention that in the same year, Whitmer vetoed a $375 million boost in road funding passed by Republicans. It would have been paid for with higher-than-expected increases in other state tax receipts.

Whitmer’s 2019 proposal to sharply increase the tax on gas and diesel fuel was deeply unpopular. The Detroit Free Press article called it a “nonstarter with the Republican-controlled Legislature.” Whitmer's proposed tax hike would have raised $2.5 billion with just $1.9 billion going to roads.

It wasn’t just Republicans who didn’t embrace the idea, however. Not one of the 66 Democratic members of the Legislature even introduced a bill to enact the tax hike. Had Whitmer’s plan been approved, Michigan's average gas price today would be $4.56 per gallon, about 33 cents higher than the national average.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.