This column originally appeared in The Detroit News.
Talk is cheap. Gas isn’t.
As I write this, gas in Michigan is over four dollars per gallon. Gas prices hit record highs last week.
It could be more affordable, though, if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was willing to do the right thing. That starts with being honest with families and voters. On the flip side, Whitmer’s current energy policy would send gas prices skyrocketing even further.
She should reverse course, protect our local fuel supply and give motorists a break on their tax bill.
Let’s start with the cold, hard facts. Foreign affairs play a role in the cost of gasoline, but so do domestic energy and tax policy.
Right now Whitmer and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel are fighting in court to shut down the safe Line 5 pipeline in Michigan that delivers more than 22 million gallons of fuel daily.
Instead of just getting out of the way and allowing experts to build the Great Lakes Tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, Whitmer wants to turn off the spigot on all of that fuel.
A report published this month by the Consumer Energy Alliance crunched the numbers and found Michigan families could pay up to $2.2 billion more each year for their gas and diesel.
It’s long past time for Whitmer to end her senseless crusade against a safe pipeline and a state-of-the-art energy infrastructure upgrade.
Whitmer knows cutting the gas tax would help, too. That’s why last week the governor sent a letter to politicians in Washington, D.C., asking them to suspend the federal 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax.
Michigan residents are left to wonder, though, at the fact Whitmer is likely to veto the 27-cent state gas-tax suspension headed to her desk. She also said she would veto an income tax break for working-class families who are struggling to pay their bills.
Let’s skip the spin and be honest. Throughout Whitmer’s more than three years in office, Michigan’s roads are only getting worse. She hasn’t fixed them, and it seems like she’s not going to.
You know it. I know it. Your broken car and bent front rims know it.
Michigan’s roads are some of the worst in the nation, and pothole season is only just starting.
That’s not bad. It’s a disaster.
According to the White House, Michigan has 1,219 bridges and more than 7,300 miles of highway in poor condition. The Detroit News reported last November that Michigan commute times were up 4.6% because of the devastation, and drivers were paying $644 a year in costs related to driving on damaged roads.
With families struggling to keep the car gassed up, now’s the time to cut the income tax — and it’s time to look at eliminating state sales tax on gas, too. The state treasury can certainly afford it.
Michigan has a $20 billion budget surplus. $20 billion extra.
The state is expected to receive an extra $7.8 billion in funding for highway and bridge repairs from the federal government over the next few years. $7.8 billion extra.
Whitmer’s excuses don’t add up, and they certainly don’t fill the tank.
Voters aren’t dumb, motorists aren’t rich, and the state’s gas and energy policy matters. Stop the war against Line 5. Cut the income tax. Give motorists the break they need.
Tori Sachs is executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund.