MI GOP leaders agree on budget; no road deal with Whitmer


LANSING, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — Republican legislative leaders agreed to a budget framework Thursday and intend to begin passing spending bills next week despite not having a road-funding deal with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer has vowed to veto any plan that does not include a “real fix” to significantly boost spending on roads and public education. But with the Oct. 1 budget deadline approaching and no consensus on road funding nearly six months after Whitmer proposed a 45-cents-a-gallon fuel tax hike, the GOP-led Legislature is moving forward — setting the stage for a showdown.

Target spending levels were sent Thursday to the chairs of budget subcommittees, said Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. The figures were not made public.

Some House-Senate conference panels are expected to start voting next week, once details are hashed out. Republican leaders had signaled last week that they would pivot toward finalizing the budget, saying it does not need to be linked with the road-funding debate.

“All along, the Senate promised to deliver a budget on time and we intend to keep that promise,” A statement from Shirkey read in part. “Discussions on roads with my governor and legislative leaders can continue, but the Senate will not tie the fate of the budget to a deal on roads.”

Whitmer’s gas tax increase is the linchpin of her budget plan, however. It would guarantee $2.5 billion in additional revenue for roads and bridges and halt the eventual diversion of $600 million a year in general funds to the transportation budget.

It was not immediately known how much more the GOP’s blueprint would spend on roads, but it is expected to be less than what Whitmer wants — though Shirkey promised “more general fund dollars for roads.” Whitmer has said the roads will deteriorate further without a multibillion-dollar influx of new revenue.

Friday marked 24 days until a new budget needs to be approved by the Legislature, but only nine session days left in its schedule.

—News 8’s Rick Albin contributed to this report.

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