Will Whitmer’s New Plans for Roads And Schools Work?

Road Financing and Equitable School Funding take top billing at Whitmer’s second State of the State speech.

“Fix the damn roads” has evolved from a campaign rallying cry to an anxious plea.

With little headway made on roads funding, it was no surprise that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s second State of the State address was mostly dedicated to her new plan on infrastructure. The governor used the speech to roll out what she calls her “Plan B,” a roads proposal that essentially side steps her Republican colleagues. Whitmer’s plan has already been set in motion with The State Transportation Committee quickly approving $3.5 billion dollars in bonds to kickstart the road repair process. 

“Her speech was historic in many ways.” – Amber Arellano, The Education Trust-Midwest

Education reform was also addressed as a top priority for the governor’s administration in her State of the State speech. This comes on the heels of a recently-released report that shows Michigan among the bottom five states in the nation for equitable school funding. 

Click the player above to hear full analysis of the State of the State address.

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET


Jake Neher is the senior producer at Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson, co-host of WDET’s MichMash, and was at the Capitol for the State of the State address.  

“This is a financing tool, this isn’t a long-term funding solution.” – Jake Neher, WDET

Neher notes that the governor herself acknowledges this and has urged lawmakers to come up with a more permanent funding solution. In fact, Neher says that some critics have argued that the current plan could hinder Gov. Whitmer’s ability to create a long-term funding solution.

Riley Beggin is a Capitol reporter for Bridge Magazine. 

Beggin says that, in defense of her plan, the governor has argued that this proposal will actually be cheaper for the state in the long run, citing lowering interest rates. It is also important to understand that this road funding money will come from the State Trunkline Fund, says Beggin. Money from this fund can only be used on state highways, so a fix to local roads will not be addressed under this current plan.  

Amber Arellano is the founding executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. 

Regarding Gov. Whitmer’s remarks on eduction reform, Arellano says, “I thought her speech was historic in many ways.” 

She was specifically impressed with the prominence of equitable school funding in the governor’s address. Arellano says the neediest of children are bearing the brunt of inequality in funding, something that is not only hurting individuals and communities, but also hurting talent development and retention in the state as a whole. 

Further Reading

Whitmer Ready With ‘Plan B’ for Road Money, Potential Affordable Care Act Repeal

Bridge: Frustrated Gov. Whitmer vows no more ‘games’ with GOP on fixing Michigan

Education Trust-Midwest: Michigan’s School Funding — Crisis and Opportunity

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