Michigan business leaders call for road funding solutions

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LANSING, Mich. (WNDU) - The conversation continues as business officials push to pass a funding plan for Michigan's crumbling roads.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's plan calls for a 45-cent increase in state gas tax to fund road repairs. However, state lawmakers are split on where the money should come from.

Business leaders just want lawmakers to present a proposal when they return to session next week.

"This is a statewide problem that needs a state solution," Michigan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rich Studley said.

"The governor has proposed one way. It's a viable way, but we're open to see if there are other options out there as well," Business Leaders for Michigan President and CEO Doug Rothwell said.

"The process we go through is secondary," added Brad Williams, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce vice president of government relations. "There is a public release of a legislative plan or a private release that's discussed with the governor. At the end of the day, as long as there's a plan that raises $2 to $2.5 billion to fix our roads, I don't care how it's released publicly. In the meantime, let's just get the problem fixed.

"Gov. Whitmer's been very clear when she's laid out the proposal that that $2.5 billion is the cost today," said Monica Ackerson, Michigan Road Preservation Association executive vice president. "A few years from now, based on the projections for what is going to be happening to our road network, that number will be $3.5 billion."

"Many local communities have stepped up to the challenge and approved local ballot proposals and millage increases to do what we can at the local level," Studley added. "But that kind of hit-or-miss piecemeal approach doesn't give us the statewide network of interstate highways, state trunk lines, county roads and local streets that we need to support the three leading industries in Michigan."

Studley named manufacturing, travel and tourism, and agribusiness as the leading industries.