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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

The Compromise Whitmer and Republicans Can Make to Fix the Roads

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Crain’s Detroit Business reporter Chad Livengood says a compromise could exist that trades roads funding for school pension refinancing — if Lansing can break through the gridlock.

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Reaction to Governor Whitmer’s newly released plan to fix the roads has predominately fallen along party lines.

We have built a state we can no longer afford.” - Chad Livengood, Crain’s Detroit Business

Democrats are celebrating her proactive approach, while many Republicans are questioning the fiscal responsibility of Whitmer’s proposal. Irrespective of the political noise, questions remain about the impacts of the Governor’s proposal to employ $3.5 billion dollars in bonds to fix the roads and what this borrowing means for the state going forward. 

Click the player above to hear the full analysis of Governor Whitmer’s current roads plan.


Chad Livengood, senior editor at Crain’s Detroit Business, recently wrote a piece addressing the issue of roads funding and its entanglement with the concern over school pension refinancing. With the state legislature plagued by partisan gridlock, a deal addressing both road financing and school pensions may be the only viable path forward to achieve some type of compromise. 

Laura Weber-Davis, WDET
Laura Weber-Davis, WDET

Addressing concerns over Gov. Whitmer’s current plan cutting into road maintenance money, Livengood acknowledges, “Ultimately, this will eat up a lot of MDOTS budget in the future.” While recognizing the anxiety over a sizeable fraction of future road budget servicing debt, Livengood also points out that Gov. Whitmer’s proposal does save against inflation.

In this same vein, Livengood says bonding for the teacher pension fund when there are low interest rates may help to smooth out the pension funds, potentially freeing up space in the School Aid Fund. This complex policy probe ultimately leads back to a simple truth about the partisan nature of the current political system. In order for anything to get done, Livengood says Govenor Whitmer needs to come around to pension refinancing and Republicans need to give her a gas tax increase.

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