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Michigan won’t fix the damn roads—for now

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Gov. Whitmer backed down from her veto threat in order to pass a 2020 budget

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks to a reporter. She’s a white woman with dark brown hair down to her shoulders. She’s wearing a blue dress suit and a diamond necklace. Getty Images

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican leaders in the Michigan Legislature announced today in a joint statement that they came to an agreement over the weekend to finish and pass a budget for the 2020 fiscal year. It won’t include any additional funding for infrastructure and road repairs.

The compromise will avert a government shutdown, which would have been the first in Michigan since 2009.

Whitmer had previously said that she’d veto any budget that didn’t include $2 billion in extra spending for roads. The governor had proposed a 45 cent gas hike to pay for the repairs and campaigned on a promise to “fix the damn roads.”

“We have all agreed to continue conversations about road funding in a meaningful way and table all associated issues for the time being. Right now, our number one priority is getting a budget passed,” said Whitmer, along with Republicans Mike Shirkey and Lee Chatfield, in a joint statement.

Republicans have not made a public counter-proposal so far. Though Crain’s Detroit Business did obtain an outline of a Republican plan that would cut $400 million in spending elsewhere.

Fixing the roads is a major priority in the state because not doing so is almost certainly more expensive. A March report by the transportation research group TRIP found that poor road conditions cost drivers an estimated $14 billion annually. Another report from Lvl5 in January rated Michigan’s roads as the worst in the nation