News Story

Media Misreports Whitmer’s 45-cent Gas Tax Hike, Even As Its Chances Fade

A substantial part of the money would not have gone to ‘fix the damn roads’

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to increase the state gas tax by 45 cents per gallon has been widely reported. When fully phased-in, the increase would collect $2.5 billion more from motorists each year.

What has been repeatedly misreported by the media, however, is that Whitmer’s plans do not intend on using all of that additional $2.5 billion to “fix the damn roads.”

The executive budget Whitmer recommended in March only dedicates $1.9 billion of that money to the state transportation budget. The extra $600 million would pay for other state spending.

Yet media outlets have repeatedly reported that Whitmer’s tax hike would “raise $2.5 billion to fix the roads.” The misrepresentation matters because Whitmer ran for governor on the slogan “fix the damn roads,” and she called the state’s roadways “dangerous.” Yet, nearly a quarter of the tax increase she has urged will not go to transportation.

In the past week, Democratic legislative leaders have acknowledged that even on their own side of the aisle, the votes aren’t there for the big tax hike. This will all but take the proposal off the table, yet the media is still giving the same inaccurate reports. Here’s a recent sample:

WWMT reported on Aug. 29: “One day after Whitmer told the Republican-led Legislature to ‘stop screwing around’ and present budget proposals to her that create the $2.5 billion she said is necessary to patch potholes and prevent further crumbling, House Democratic Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, said the gas tax hike is likely dead.”

Gongwer News Service reported on Aug. 28: “Governor Gretchen Whitmer said today the Republican majorities in the Legislature need to ‘stop screwing around’ on the 2019-20 fiscal year budget and a plan to increase funding for roads and appeared to walk back comments she made Tuesday that signaled she was no longer committed to increasing road funding by $2.5 billion per year.”

WSJM reported on Aug. 28: “Whitmer this morning said if Republicans have another idea instead of her 45¢ per gallon gas tax hike to come up with enough revenue to spend $2.5 billion on roads without taking money away from education, pensions, and other places, she remains open.”

The Escanaba Daily Press reported on Aug. 28: “The state Senate and House have both passed budget proposals, however, the proposed budgets did not include Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s additional $2.5 billion in funding for roads.”

The Detroit Free Press reported on Aug. 22: “Whitmer’s proposal to increase the gas tax would raise up to $2.5 billion a year to fix Michigan roads.”