Governor Whitmer held a town hall at Traverse City High School to deliver her goals and intentions for budget, education, and taxes. She sees serious shortfalls in education, roads, and safe water. She proposed major increases in spending on education and roads. To meet the shortfalls she sees the need for an increase in the tax on gasoline.
In the town hall, Whitmer was hosted by Traverse City Area Public Schools Superintendent Paul Soma.
In this blog I will attempt to walk the reader through Whitmer's presentation using some of her slides.
She began by explaining that of the $60B budget in Michigan only $10.7B is discretionary. So the rest of her talk centered around this $10.7B "General Fund"
Whitmer made the point that the General fund has not grown at all over time. It is exactly the same as it was in 2000, but inflation has eroded its value. This, she asserts, has lead to a massive erosion of our education and infrastructure. She also pointed out a flow of funds from education to roads. She referred to this flow as a "shell game".
The result, she maintained, is that Michigan rated dead last among all 50 states in 4th Grade Reading proficiency.
She also showed a progression chart that indicated that the fraction our revenue devoted to education was moving rapidly downward compared to other states.
Whitmer spent some time discussing drinking water and the need for spending in this area. She set goals for 2030 on Roads, Water, Skills, and Education as shown in her slide below.
The proposed solution is not painless, Whitmer is proposing a 45 cent gasoline tax. This would come in 3 increments of 15 cents each. She proposes to offset some of these taxes for those least able to afford them with 2 reliefs:
- Increased earned income tax credit.
-Repeal of the retirement tax
She also claims that the better roads will reduce the amount taxpayers spend on car repairs.
The path to better roads is not easy and short. According to Whitmer only 79% of our roads are in "fair" or better condition. Without a course change that will rapidly erode.
The Governor talked about the 2015 plan to tackle this problem and called it inadequate. She wants a tax plan that actually fixes the problem not goes only part way.
Perhaps not everyone wants to applaud a tax increase but there was strong support for the Governor's education plans. She said her funding plan would add $283 per pupil funding in Traverse City. Her plan provides road repairs, trade skill training, and education. It is paid for by taxes. If we like her plan we need to help her sell it to the legislature. If you like the plan you see, it is time get to work!
To see all the images, including all the slides used in the presentation go to: