News Story

Remember That Promise About Fixing Roads? Michigan Is Spending Less On Them Under Whitmer

As a candidate in 2018, she called Michigan roads dangerous

The COVID-19 pandemic has grabbed the spotlight from what had been a hot topic in Michigan — more funding for road repairs.

In 2018 candidate Gretchen Whitmer made “fix the damned roads” the centerpiece of her campaign for governor. After the first two annual budgets she has signed as governor, state transportation spending is stagnant .

In fact, Whitmer has found less for road repairs in each of her first two budgets than her predecessor, former Gov. Rick Snyder, approved in his last budget.

The last budget Snyder signed was for the 2018-19 fiscal year, and it spent $3.64 billion on transportation.

In the 2019-20 fiscal year that followed, Whitmer approved just $3.59 billion in state transportation spending. And the budget she recently signed for the current 2020-21 fiscal year authorizes $3.60 billion in spending.

The figures refer to state spending from state resources only, not federal revenue, over which state lawmakers have no control. Without an influx of more federal dollars or a change in future budgets, Michigan would be spending far less on transportation in the Whitmer era.

In 2018-19, the federal government distributed $1.31 billion to Michigan for transportation.

That increased to $1.70 billion in 2019-20 and is projected to come in at $1.42 billion in 2020-21.

Overall, the state of Michigan is projecting $5.11 billion in transportation spending for 2020-21, down from $5.34 billion the previous year.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has plans to borrow $3.5 billion in new road repair debt that is not included in the state budget. However, that won't be cheap. It is estimated that taxpayers will pay $565 million on just the first $800 million of the $3.5 billion.

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.