Whitmer: 'No More Waiting'; State To Borrow $3.5B For Roads

Jan 30, 2020

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. Behind Whitmer is Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.
Credit AP Photo/Al Goldis

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan will borrow $3.5 billion to rebuild state highways and bridges over five years.

She calls it a responsible way to start fixing deteriorating roads after the Republican-led Legislature rejected her proposed fuel tax hike.

The Democrat unveiled the bonding plan during her second annual State of the State speech on Wednesday.

She says it will enable the state to do about twice as much construction on I-, U.S.- and M-numbered routes as it can now.

Whitmer says the money will be used to reconstruct, rather than resurface, roads in high-traffic areas with the greatest need.

A state panel has authorized borrowing $3.5 billion to roughly double spending on state road and bridge construction over five years, hours after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the plan in her State of the State speech.

The State Transportation Commission unanimously approved the Rebuilding Michigan program on Thursday after hearing details from the state Department of Transportation.

Spending will rise from nearly $3.9 billion to $7.3 billion over the five-year period. It will allow for 73 new projects in high-traffic areas and enable the state to covert other planned projects to reconstruction, rather than resurfacing.

She also outlined several other initiatives. They include partnering with foundations to help families navigate a law that will require some third-graders to be held back if they lag in reading.

Whitmer also wants to make more low-income workers eligible for child care subsidies and do more to address racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality.

She also backs putting parts of the federal health care law into state law.