News Story

Michigan Residents: Whitmer Did Not Fix The D@mn Roads

New poll shows governor’s credibility on this issue full of potholes

Michigan residents say Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has failed to keep her campaign promise to fix the state’s roads, according to a recent poll done by EPIC-MRA.

“It is a near unanimous opinion that Michigan roads and bridges are in terrible condition, with 93% offering a negative rating of just fair (28%) or poor (65%), and only 6% offering a positive rating,” EPIC-MRA stated in a press release. The poll was conducted May 11-17 and has a margin of error of four percentage points.

The condition of state’s trunkline roads, which consists of state highways, federal highways and interstates, has seen a slight improvement from 2010-11 to 2020-21, according to the report of the state Transportation Asset Management Council that evaluates roads.

The portion of highways in “good” condition has increased from 19% to 25% over that 10-year span and the share of roads in “bad” condition have decreased from 34% to 33%.

Michigan spent $2.0 billon on roads in 2011. In 2019, when Whitmer took office, the state boosted spending on roads to $3.6 billion. About 38% of that increase in funding came from a tax hike on fuel and increased vehicle registration fees, enacted in 2015.

In 2019 Whitmer proposed a road improvement plan that consisted of a 45-cent per gallon increase in the fuel tax, which would have collected an additional $2.5 billion a year in revenue. But when she submitted an executive budget proposal that year, it allocated just $1.9 billion of the increased tax revenue to roads, with the remaining $600 million to be spent elsewhere.

AAA Michigan reports the cost of gas in Michigan on June 6 at $5.05 per gallon. Had the governor’s 45-cent increase become law, the figure would have been $5.62 a gallon. But no legislator, including her fellow Democrats, introduced a bill to enact the increase.

When the 45-cent proposal received no traction in the Legislature, Whitmer’s next plan was to borrow $3.5 billion for roads. A top-rated municipal bond of 20 years is currently paying interest of about 3%. The cost of debt depends on its timing and structure. If the state were to borrow $3.5 billion all at once at current rates, the interest payments over 20 years would be $1.15 billion.

The poll was commissioned by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, an industry trade group of companies engaged in public works projects, including road construction.

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.