While Livingston County Democrats are applauding Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s first budget, it’s getting a less than warm welcome from the Republican-led legislature.

Livingston County Democratic Party Chairwoman Judy Daubenmier said Governor Whitmer is “going big and going bold” in her first state budget and the investments in clean water, higher education and increased revenue sharing for local communities are long overdue. Whitmer is proposing a 45-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax increase and seeks to reverse some tax decisions made by her predecessor. She says people already are paying a "roads tax" because of vehicle repairs caused by potholes and if nothing is done, the roads will get worse.

To offset some of the additional tax burden, Whitmer wants to reverse a so-called pension tax enacted in 2011 and give higher tax breaks to low-income earners. Daubenmier says the road plan will cost motorists less than the average car repair bill caused by driving on the state’s crumbling roads and is targeted at the state’s most heavily traveled and economically important roads. Since fuel taxes are regressive, Daubenmier said she was glad to see that the increase is balanced by a doubling in the Earned Income Tax that will more than offset the increase in fuel revenue and will make the outcome less burdensome on the most in need.

Meanwhile, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said he expects the plan will be met with “rather strong opposition in both chambers,” with many other Republicans making clear they would not vote for a 45-cent gas tax increase, especially as at-pump taxes and auto insurance rates in Michigan already rank among the highest in the nation.

Whitmer’s plan would increase the fuel tax in three phases through October 2020. Once fully phased in, the tax would generate more than $2 billion a year in new revenue to fix the state’s crumbling roads but leave Michigan with some of the highest fuel taxes in the country.

Republican State Rep. Ann Bollin of Brighton Township issued the following statement after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her state budget proposal:

“I appreciated hearing the governor’s budget presentation and agree we have a big job ahead of us. The governor laid out her solutions to major issues plaguing our great state – however most of them come with a hefty price tag. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to deliver a budget that is fiscally responsible and provides a platform for structural reform. Our focus must be on finding long-term solutions without hindering the progress Michigan has made over the past eight years.” (JM/JK)