Whitmer calls for $3.5 billion in bonds to fix roads

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LANSING (WJRT) (1/29/2020) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants the state to sell $3.5 billion worth of bonds to fix Michigan roads faster without increasing taxes.

She is announcing the plan during her second State of the State address at 7 p.m. to a joint session of the Michigan Legislature at the State Capitol in Lansing. The speech will be carried live here.

Whitmer tried to address road funding last year through a 45-cent increase on fuel taxes, but that didn't go anywhere with the GOP-led Legislature so she's hoping second time is the charm.

A few weeks ago during an address, she said that Michigan needs to triage the state's roads. Whitmer said that she's open to all ideas on how to raise $2.5 billion to fix the roads.

The bonds, which are a form of loan, would have to be paid back. They would allow the Michigan Department of Transportation to add or expand 122 road projects over the next five years.

Whitmer said the additional spending, which is not subject to approval from the Republican-led Legislature, would move projects ahead on the schedule and save Michigan taxpayers future inflation.

Projects funded paid for with the bonds would be prioritized to freeways and state trunklines that carry significant traffic.

“Our roads are dangerous, and the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to fix them,” Whitmer said. “That’s why I’m taking action now to fix the damn roads and keep Michiganders safe. My Rebuild Michigan plan will ensure we start moving dirt this spring and save us money in the long run."

She called on Republicans to negotiate a long-term road funding solution.

"I’ll work with them when they’re ready, but in the meantime, I’m going to get to work fixing our state roads on my own,” Whitmer said.

While roads will be the hot topic during the State of the State, remember this is a time for the governor to address many of the other issues facing the state.

A few weeks ago, while riding in Saginaw County, she discussed her other priorities she will address tonight.

"I'm going to be focused on the fundamentals," Whitmer said. "We've got real health care outcome disparities. Implicit biases are a real problem. Going to spend a little energy on that front. We're going to talk about education, making sure we continue in the weighted foundation so that equity built into our education formula so we can support our kids."

ABC12 will air more of Whitmer's thoughts about Michigan roads after the Oscars in a few weeks.

Watch ABC12 News at Eleven for more on Whitmer's State of the State address and reaction from lawmakers.