Road talks continue in Lansing; no deal yet

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer met face-to-face with the two top Republicans in the Legislature to talk about crafting a deal to fix the roads.

Would they reach one?

“Tell you what, you go run for governor and get elected and we’ll talk in private,” Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, told WLNS’ Tim Skubick when asked.

Off he went into a hour-long, closed-door, no-media meeting.

There are a host of unresolved issues, starting with getting yes votes in the GOP-led Legislature to raise the gas tax to fix the roads. The Senate likely has those votes. It seems less likely in the lower chamber.

“It’s a little difficult in the House, no question,” Rep. Graham Filler, R-DeWitt, said. “You just got people who are very careful when you vote on new revenue.”

Translated: Politicians running for reelection next year find it tough to vote yes on tax hikes.

So there was no agreement between Republican leaders and Whitmer Thursday. But did they reach any decisions on anything?

“I feel very encouraged by the conversation I had with the governor today,” Chatfield said after the meeting.

“Did you make any decisions?” Skubick asked.

“We made decisions. We’re going to keep working on it until we get it done,” Chatfield replied.

“That’s not a decision, is it?” Skubick said.

“That’s a very important decision,” Chatfield disagreed.

Not only does the governor want more road revenue, she also wants most of it to go to southeast Michigan, which creates a challenge for the outstate Republican speaker.

“I do believe that southeast Michigan roads are in worse shape than northern Michigan,” Chatfield said. “What I do want to make sure is being done is no taxpayers in northern Michigan are paying higher taxes only to fix roads in southeast Michigan. I think that’s unfair.”

However, he seemed optimistic about moving forward.

“We’ve come a long way and we’re getting closer,” Chatfield said.

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