MichMash: Budget Burglary? More Claims of ‘Robbing Peter to Pay Paul’ at State Capitol

Hearing confusing numbers about road funding? Here’s how to untangle the purse strings.

Michigan State Capitol building on a sunny day

WDET Digital

State lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are in the thick of budget negotiations.

Whitmer’s road funding plan faces criticism that some of the money raised by her proposed 45 cent fuel tax increase would not go directly to roads.

Is that true? And what are the tools you should have in your belt to interpret confusing claims about numbers in the state budget?

Longtime state Capitol reporter Zach Gorchow has covered a lot of budgets in the last 20 years for Gongwer. Gorchow is the Capitol news service’s editor. He wrote a post in the Gongwer Blog recently about some of these questions as they pertain to road funding talks in Lansing.

As part of the weekly series MichMash, Gorchow helps Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth untangle the purse strings of the state budget.

Click on the audio player above to hear that conversation.

Quick tips!
— Go beyond the soundbite. Find out which pots of money we’re talking about and how these proposals will affect them.
— Keep in mind that budget numbers can often be interpreted in many ways. For a number of years under Gov. Rick Snyder, there was a debate about whether he had increased or decreased money for K-12 public schools. It turns out, you could make a case for either side of that claim depending on how you interpreted the numbers.
— Be wary when people talk about “record funding” for certain areas of the budget. This can be largely meaningless without more context.


  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.
  • Jake Neher
    Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.