News Story

Gov. Whitmer's Veto Turns $338 Million Transportation Increase Into $37 Million Cut

Legislature’s budget would have meant 9.2% more for state road and transportation projects

By vetoing an extra $375 million approved by the legislature in the 2019-20 state transportation budget, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer converted what would have been a $338 million net funding increase into a $36.9 million cut. 

It’s quite a contrast from the direction signalled in a June 2018 tweet in which candidate Whitmer said, “Michigan's roads are more than an embarrassment, they're downright dangerous. I have a real plan to get Michigan’s roads back into shape.”

The cut also contrasts with the $338 million increase approved last week by the Legislature. This would have raised state transportation spending to $3.978 billion, a 9.2% increase with no tax hike. Instead of raising taxes, lawmakers targeted $400 million from the state General Fund to road repairs.

But on Monday, Whitmer used her line-item veto authority to eliminate that funding. As a result, the state will spend $3.603 billion on transportation in the fiscal year that began Tuesday, a $36.9 million decline from the $3.640 billion appropriated for the just-ended 2018-19 fiscal year.

In March, Whitmer proposed a fiscal year 2019-20 executive transportation budget that would have spent $4.381 billion state tax dollars, a $797 million increase. It was contingent, however, on the Legislature passing a $1.264 billion tax hike, which would have gone not just to road repairs but also to pay for increases in other state spending.

For only the second time since 2011, state transportation spending will actually decline year-over-year, by 1.0%. The other down-year was 2015.

Tiffany Brown, spokeswoman for the governor, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.