(03/05/19)- Roads...education...and safe drinking water--
Those are Governor Whitmer's priorities as she lays out her spending plan for Michigan.
"Our roads are downright dangerous. Our students are falling behind. We have families across our state that cannot trust the water coming out of their taps." said Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Whitmer's first budget totals $60.2 billion in spending.
First up... roads. And a fuel tax per gallon that would nearly triple for Michigan drivers.
" I can tell you this, no one likes to raise taxes. I wish I didn't have to come here today and put this budget before you. Because I know it's hard. But the hard truth is we've got to get to work." Whitmer said
Whitmer also says more funding.... to the tune of 15 point 4 billion... is needed to keep Michigan's students educated on the same level as the rest of the country.
"Michigan ranks last in the nation in school funding growth since 1995. Funding for school operations is the same level it was in 2007 without any adjustment for inflation. Under funded special education programs are forcing schools to redirect resources. And funding for at risk students has fallen by 60 percent. Our goal has got to be taking Michigan from bottom 10 in our country to top ten in educational outcomes for student," Whitmer said
And even with one of the largest supply of fresh water in the country, communities all across the state are still struggling to supply safe drinking water to it's residents.
Whitmer says that needs to change.
"This will include funding for service line replacements. Research and treatment of P-FAS. Research to optimize water distribution systems. And will dedicate 60 million dollars to install hydration stations in school buildings. This will be a chance to turn a new leaf and prove to people that we will finally clean up their drinking water," Whitmer said
Reaction from lawmakers to the governor's budget proposal was mixed.
"During the campaign season, Governor during one of open debates talked about a 20 percent gas tax increase and she called it ridiculous, how can you explain a 45 cent tax increase today?"
"What the governor did,was give us some hard truths. That if we really want to fix the roads and fund our schools, which were the priority she laid out in the state of the state. We've got to figure out how we are going to pay for that and started the process for us to think about," said State Rep. Jon Hoadley. (D)
"I didn't seek this office just because i wanted to be governor. I ran for governor because I love this state and want to fix problem," Whitmer said.