Michigan’s governor and legislative leaders are agreeing to make finishing the 2020 state budget their priority. Even if it means holding off on a plan to fix the roads.

Until now, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she would not sign a budget that didn’t include extra funding for the roads. But facing a potential shutdown if the stalemate continued caused her to change her mind.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen over the summer that our republican colleagues have not been serious about putting a real budget on the table that had road funding in it,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist.

Lt. Governor Gilchrist spoke about the state budget during a stop in Bay City.

On Monday, Sept. 9, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Republican leaders in the legislature announced that talks would continue without a solution to fix Michigan’s aging roads and infrastructure.

Whitmer said during her campaign that she would not sign a state budget that didn’t include a long-term fix for Michigan’s roads. Now it appears she is ready to balk on that promise.

Gilchrist told TV5 that she has good reasons to do that.

“If the government shuts down, it’s bad for everyone. And so we’re working on putting in place a plan and a deal that will avoid that for people. And we are still working to get the roads fixed. That’s something that is not off the table,” Gilchrist said.

TV5 spoke with drivers in the area to get their opinion’s and some of them were not too happy with that decision.

“I’m not really happy about it because that’s what she pretty much ran on,” a driver said.

“I just had a blowout down in Detroit. I was working down there about two weeks ago and the potholes from there to here to Flint is bad,” another driver said.

For his part, Gilchrist said he knows fixing the roads is a top priority. Even if the next state budget doesn’t reflect that, he said $2.5 billion in additional revenue over the next ten years is needed to address roads and infrastructure, a figure that will only rise if something isn’t done soon.

“This problem is only going to get more expensive. If we don’t fix it now, we’re going to have to fix it later,” Gilchrist said.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued the following comment on Wednesday, Sept. 11: 

"Let’s be very clear – Republicans wasted two months by going on vacation this summer instead of staying in Lansing to negotiate. That’s the only reason we don’t have a budget right now. After months of inaction, the best plan they could come up with would steal money from other priorities and doesn’t fix the roads. This status quo budgeting will only keep our roads the worst in the nation and our schools at the back of the pack. It’s not a real solution, and it won’t solve the crises our state is facing in education and infrastructure. Our citizens expect government to function, and I remain committed to doing that despite continued Republican actions to the contrary.”

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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