Gretchen Whitmer to propose increasing gas tax to $0.45 to fix roads

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ran on a campaign to fix the state's crumbling roads and now has announced her plan to do so with a $0.45 per gallon gas tax.

FOX 2's Tim Skubick reports Whitmer told her cabinet she will propose an increase of the gas tax a total of $0.45 cents per gallon. Currently, Michigan's gas tax is $0.26 cents. Whitmer's proposal would increase the tax 15 cents in the first six months, 15 cents in the next six months, and then another 15 cents in the year after, FOX 2 sources said.

The plan would bring the total gas tax from $0.26 per gallon to $0.71 per gallon.

The proposal requires legislative approval. 

Further details of the plan were not known.

This plan is not that far off from what a bipartisan group of former legislative leaders suggested in January. Republican Ken Sikkema and Democrat Bob Emerson -- former Senate leaders -- proposed that Michigan roads could only be fixed by a gas tax of 47 cents per gallon.

On the same day, Michigan business leaders called for a tax increase to improve the roads, but officials stopped short of saying which plan they would support. Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of CEOs and university presidents, released a report Monday emphasizing the need for a big influx of road funding a day before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposes her first budget. 

The business group stopped short of backing a specific plan other than to say it is open to increased user fees. BLM President and CEO Doug Rothwell says it could be a gas tax hike. 

He says the roads are an "embarrassment" and they will only get worse and become more expensive to fix unless lawmakers act. Whitmer is expected to propose a multibillion-dollar boost in road funding to the Republican-led Legislature.

Michigan roads were a huge focus of Whitmer's campaign and her four-word slogan resonated with viewers: "Fix the damn roads".  

From 2017-21, $1.2 billion a year is being spent to repair the broken roads. You pay for it every time you fill up at the gas station and renew your registration. A big chunk will also come from the general fund, but $1.2 billion is only a bandage.  

Whitmer ran on a promise to change all that. Whitmer said in November after being elected Governor that there were two ways to get it done: work with legislators to get the road funding done or ask voters to approve a bond plan.

Governor Whitmer also has said she believes fixing the roads will also drive a successful economy and create jobs.

"We can attract the jobs of the future we can keep our kids here in Michigan," then-candidate Whitmer said last April. "We can make this the state that others move to for opportunities but we have to get our house in order so let's get to work."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.