Michigan House Dem leader says Whitmer’s 45-cent gas tax is probably dead


Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, told reporters Thursday that Republicans haven’t supported the gas tax hike, so it’s unlikely to become reality. (Bridge photo by Riley Beggin)

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to raise Michigan gas taxes by 45 cents per gallon is likely dead, said House Democratic Leader Christine Greig Thursday. 

Republicans have said the proposal is a non-starter, so “I think we have to have these other options,” the Farmington Hills representative said. 

Among them: taxing heavy trucks so they pay an extra cent per mile driven, which she estimated would raise an additional $400 million for roads or closing “corporate tax loopholes” to raise up to $500 million. Those proposals, plus a smaller gas tax increase, could close the gap for necessary road repair funding, she said. 

“We have a pathway to lower the 45 cents,” Greig said. “But the important thing is we have to raise $2.5 billion in new revenue to fix the roads.” 

She didn’t say whether Democrats would vote for a 45-cent gas tax if legislation was introduced; ”we have a lot of different philosophies in this caucus.”

“House Democrats have continually put forth other ideas that are more fair share budget that everyone is coming to the table and putting some skin in the game,” she said. “We have to come to the table in an honest, transparent way and really make these hard decisions of how can everyone contribute to the success of the state.”

Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox cheered the news Thursday, issuing a statement calling Whitmer’s tax plan “an idea that was always running on empty.”

“The people of Michigan have rejected it since its announcement, and now with her own party leaving it dead on the side of the road, it’s time for Governor Whitmer to get real and walk back to the negotiating table,” Cox said in her statement.

If Whitmer’s proposal was made into law, it would nearly triple Michigan’s current gas tax and give the state the highest gas taxes in the nation. Whitmer has said that’s the best way to ensure the state raises enough revenue to fix long-term underfunding in state infrastructure. 

But Republican leaders in the House and Senate have said the hefty tax hike is not the way to do it. But it’s unclear what the other options are: Whitmer told reporters Wednesday that Republicans have failed to offer a “viable” solution for roads funding and GOP leaders said later that day that they’ve offered multiple proposals that the governor has struck down. Neither Whitmer nor Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield shared their proposals.

Shirkey told reporters Wednesday that the governor should reconsider a West Michigan Policy Forum solution of issuing a 30-year, $10 billion bond to fund the teacher pension system, which would free up as much as $900 million annually to replace lost sales tax revenue for schools and cities under a House proposal to eliminate the state’s 6 percent sales tax on gasoline. 

Whitmer said she wouldn’t consider those because they are “fiscally bad ideas and taking money out of education to fill potholes is not a real solution.”

Both Chatfield and Shirkey made clear Wednesday that they plan to move forward on the budget in the meantime separately from a roads deal. If a budget agreement isn’t reached by the end of September, the state government will shut down for the first time in a decade.

So, how much would a 45-cent gas tax have cost you? Use our tool below

Added weekly cost: $ 
Added annual cost: $ 

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Thu, 08/29/2019 - 4:11pm

Lovely, GOP members blocking getting the damn roads fixed. Figures. Guess we need to help her get more people in the house, willing to work to get the job done.

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 10:26am

You mean get people to LEAVE the state. THAT will be the result of a .45$ cent tax hike.

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 11:45am

Jim, you apparently didn't read the article.

abe bubush
Thu, 08/29/2019 - 7:03pm

And Repubs see this as a win? Driving all the trucking businesses out of Michigan?

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:17pm

Gov. Whitmer's plan would drive business away from Michigan when they found out about the extra expense on their fleet vehicles. She's correct about our needing good roads but I would like to know what's happened to the money "they" previously collected for our roads and schools.

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:35pm

How so,,, no increase on the fuel that they use>>>> Only on gas>>> And WHY are drivers in MI forced to pay for bicycle lanes?????

Barry Visel
Thu, 08/29/2019 - 8:05pm

Lower the sales tax to 4%, expand the base to include services, and you have enough revenue to cover the rate reduction, add $2,5B for roads, add $1B for education and still have money left over. Does anyone really understand budget ??????

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:20pm

Yes and add food to it. There are plenty of ways to save the 4% on groceries if that matters. Maybe gets us to a 3% sales tax?

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 10:01am

Also, let's tax churches to use that money to help fix the roads. No reason they can't pay their fair share.

Barry Visel
Thu, 08/29/2019 - 8:08pm

Tax expenditures ( tax credits, deductions and incentives);cost us about $40Billion per year in lost revenue. Why can’t we just eliminate a few billion of tax expenditures???????

Barry Visel
Thu, 08/29/2019 - 8:08pm

Tax expenditures ( tax credits, deductions and incentives);cost us about $40Billion per year in lost revenue. Why can’t we just eliminate a few billion of tax expenditures???????

Barry Visel
Thu, 08/29/2019 - 8:08pm

Tax expenditures ( tax credits, deductions and incentives);cost us about $40Billion per year in lost revenue. Why can’t we just eliminate a few billion of tax expenditures???????

abe bubush
Fri, 08/30/2019 - 1:40am

How about an excise tax on oversized bouncy pickup truck tires and 5x increase in speeding fines?.

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 8:55am

and the Republicans say we can't afford a 45 cent gas increase to fix our roads! So little faith in their constituents
Nation City Price in USD Regular/Gallon
Sweden Stockholm $5.80
United Kingdom London $5.79
Germany Frankfurt $5.57
France Paris $5.54

Let them eat gravel!

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:22pm

Then put the .45 on the ballot if you think the public wants European level taxes!

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:38pm

How come roads built before John Engler, GrandMold and Snyder the snake last for over 40 years... I-75 in Oakland County was built in the 1960's =before these three started giving out no-bid contracts to their buddies for kick backs,,, Need to have a Federal audit of were all the Billions went!!!!

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:39pm

How come roads built before John Engler, GrandMold and Snyder the snake last for over 40 years... I-75 in Oakland County was built in the 1960's =before these three started giving out no-bid contracts to their buddies for kick backs,,, Need to have a Federal audit of were all the Billions went!!!!

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 9:28am

Wow, I really wish I could win by sitting on my ace and doing nothing.
The people of Michigan voted for people to go to Lansing and solve problems plaguing the state. I haven't seen almost anything get done this year its almost September. If I did nothing at work for eight months I'd be fired.

James Roberts
Fri, 08/30/2019 - 9:39am

Gee, democratic house leader Rep. Greig refuses to say whether the democrats would support a 45 cent gas tax. I wonder if they are smarter than they seem, ie: they know whoever votes for it is not re-elected in 2020, of course unless they are in an urban district where the voters never met a tax they didn't like for others.

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 9:59am

I fear that the GOP majority in the House and Senate will attempt to thwart the Governor the way Sen. McConnell and his caucus did with President Obama. The notion that we can fully fund schools and restore them to our once proud status as a national model for great public education while also addressing our crumbling roads and infrastructure without new revenue is beyond laughable. If that was a real option, why wasn't it accomplished during the last Governor when Snyder enjoyed large Majorities in both chambers of the legislature?

Our parents didn't build the great American infrastructure we have allowed to decay by refusing to consider any plan that involved new taxes. Tax cuts for the very wealthy and the largest corporations have not worked the way they were hyped. Trickle down economics has been proven again and again to be a ruse.

The idea to use bonded indebtedness tied to the pension fund to free up road repair funds is just plain irresponsible. With so many pension funds underwater, it is shameful that legislators would even consider such a cowardly proposal rather than admit we need to step up and pay for the support needed to our students and the repairs required to our infrastructure.

If past is prologue, we'll get some 11th hour hastily crafted compromise on the budget. At least they will have to have something done by Oct. 1 unless they are willing to shut down State government.

Bill Hartwig
Fri, 08/30/2019 - 10:06am

Thank goodness the $.45 gas tax is dead. The $2.5B was always a fake number and a fallacy that was proposed by special interest groups trying to feather their own bed at taxpayer expense. Now it is time to get serious and determine what the real cost would be to fix and maintain our roads and cut out the all the extraneous fluff which is not needed. Unfortunately, the $2.5B lie has been repeated so often that even the media repeats it like it is the truth. Even the Chamber of Commerce repeats the lie knowing full well that business do not pay taxes - they are passed onto the consumer, so we get hit twice at the pump and in the price of goods.

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:26pm

Try doubling the work work demand and see how that works with our material supplier and labor markets! The contractors and suppliers of course won't complain!

Almighty Dollar
Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:54pm

Some proof of your assertion would help.

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 10:16am

Entering Michigan and driving on our highways and roads, after traveling in other states this summer was an embarrassment for me. Pure Michigan indeed. The GOP is running us into the ground, literally.

Judith S
Fri, 08/30/2019 - 10:24am

We need to repair the roads and other infrastructure. I’m not thrilled about a 45 cent gas tax but the roads need to be addressed now. We probably do need to pay more taxes in some manner to cover this expense. Having said that, I don’t trust government to do what it says it will do with tax dollars. I remember Engler’s plan to fund education. After the fact, we found out it was a shell game shuffling money around.

I notice we had State budgets in June when Snyder, a Republican, was governor but now that we have a Democrat as governor our Republican lead legislature stalls, I’m not happy with that behavior and I tend to vote Republican. I will remember this for what little good it does.

Alexander Beaton
Fri, 08/30/2019 - 11:24am

Meanwhile, Wisconsin has managed to spend $700 per capita on roads compared to $500 in Michigan, according to a 2018 article in the Free Press using 2015 numbers. Somehow this happened when Republicans had total control of the State of Wisconsin. I occasionally drive through Wisconsin, most recently two weeks ago. Way better roads, and IMHO way better drivers (sorry fellow Michiganders, the cheeseheads have us beat). They also enforce truck weight limits.

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:17pm

Well clearly then all you good Democrats should then support putting the .45 on the ballot as you support everything else going there. Or aren't you so democratic after all? Simple fact is the public doesn't buy the $2.5 billion number the road builders put out there nor do they rightly believe the roads is where all the .45 will really end up. And they have good reason to believe this will just inflate the cost of road repairs, so we end up getting far less than we're being told. The .45 proposal would fail and you all know it. So much for the Republicans being undemocratic!

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:32pm

WHY are the people being charged for the past 3 governors getting kick back from road contractors to build poor roads with sub-standers material? Just look I-696 last contracted by Snyder the Snake did not event last one year and has been under repair all summer!!!!
Seems Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s is like GrandMold a closet republicans looking for kick back also!!!

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:33pm

WE needs an audit on were the money went>>> Call in the feds!!!!

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:41pm

Pres.O`Bama infrastucer Bill passed the house But Mitch Connell did not bring it to the floor in the senate.That bill would have given all state Jobs 11 millions and save taxpayer car/Tires repair bills.

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:47pm

Why is it that roads built before the last three governors last more the 50 years,,,, I-75 in Oakland county was built in 1963/64, the Division built in the 1950 rebuilt under grandmold started forming pot holes lest the a year later!!! AND what about I-696.... rebuilt last year and has been undergoing repairs all summer long!!!! The People of MI need to demand an Federal investigation on were all our road money went!!!!!

Almighty Dollar
Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:53pm

Hard to believe that Michigan gas taxes would be higher than CA. Please supply some charts on this assertion.

We have underfunded roads for 30 years. Who lives in a house and refuses to fix the roof? And if we cannot afford 100 to 150 dollars a year, why are so many 50 to $70,000 dollar SUVs on the roads? No wonder Amazon (and few other businesses) don't want to locate here. And, no wonder we lose the vast majority of our college grads every year. It's just a joke. We are now 35th in jobs and 35th in education and it shows. We've had 30 years of business tax cuts and still can't show any growth in jobs or population. Can we please elect some leaders who have been outside of the crumbling state of Michigan to see what the rest of the successful part of the US looks like? The Republican strategy of no new taxes ever is beyond stupid. Fix the roof of your house! Otherwise, you lose the entire structure (we're well on our way here)!

Al Warner
Fri, 08/30/2019 - 6:41pm

Bingo!!! I've been to CA recently and saw $3.50/gal and way more hybrids/electric cars (thanks to Model 3's) and fewer pickups and SUV's. Do the calculator, it's not that much money! Just do it!!!

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 1:06pm


Fri, 08/30/2019 - 4:00pm

We are not far from having driverless vehicles. When that happens, the $ to maintain the roads should significantly decrease since everything will be monitored via the computer network. In the mean time, why not make the major interstates toll roads. Heavy usage from the trucking firms would more than compensate the needed road funding. For those wanting to avoid the tolls, the little towns along the “old highways “ would benefit. There are viable alternatives to taxing us the the grave!

greg kimpan
Fri, 08/30/2019 - 7:22pm

This was never about Governor Whitmer's plan to "fix the damn roads". It was all a ploy so the governor could "fix the damn republican legislature" so I can do whatever I want. They vote for a 45 cent gas tax and the republican voters would mutiny and wa-la, a new democratic controlled legislature. Then she can pass whatever she wants and can move us down the blue state path toward bankruptcy. Should be fun for those that have to stay here.

Steve Martin
Sun, 09/01/2019 - 8:35am

Republicans need to stop obstructing and start being honest about what needs to be done to reform our road construction, education, and prison system in Michigan. They had eight years of total control and did nothing. It’s time to end term limits, gerrymandering, and the extreme influence of money in Michigan politics Until we move in that direction there will be little or no movement on the important issues facing our state.

Sun, 09/01/2019 - 9:17am

What is needed is to find what happen to all that state and federal money for the roads under Engler, GrandMold and Snyder!!!

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 9:59am

I have a pretty long commute (30 miles round trip for my closest locations and over 70 miles round trip for some of my locations further out) and I gladly supported that gas tax hike to fix the roads. I suggest taxing churches so that they can pay their fair share. That alone would likely make a huge dent in the road issue.

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 8:21pm

And schools! Those damn buses!

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 11:28am

They always come to us! WE the people are the least prepared to give another dime to this lame Michigan GOP legislature. They each need to donate 100.00 per pay check to the road fixing fund and that is all there is too it. Vacations to Europe with their families on the tax payers dime? We can't afford day care for our kids. You all make me sick!