‘Fix The Damn Roads’: States Step It Up On Infrastructure

CEOs and politicians across the country were disappointed that President Obama never came through on his promises to remedy the nation’s infrastructure problems with federal largesse, and they’re doubly disturbed that President Trump hasn’t done it either. So, more states are taking it upon themselves to—as new Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer put it during her 2018 election campaign—“fix the damn roads.”

Residents are in an uproar over her plan to raise gasoline taxes by 45 cents a gallon over three years to finally address the problem in a comprehensive way after the GOP administration of former Governor Rick Snyder, and a Republican legislature, seemed to kick the can down the pockmarked road.

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But many Michigan CEOs are warm to the idea of doing whatever it takes to overcome the ruinous freeze-thaw cycle that just keeps ravaging the state’s streets and highways.

As Patti Poppe, CEO of major utility Consumers Energy headquartered in Jackson, Michigan, says, “A sustainable funding source” for infrastructure upgrades is “very important. The fact that [Whitmer] is focusing on it is a good thing, and it looks like [legislative leaders are] playing well in that sandbox too.”

Meanwhile, Ohio Governor Michael DeWine wants an 18-cent-a-gallon increase in the next two-year budget, which would make the state’s 46-cent gas tax the fifth-highest in the country. And in Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers wants to nudge up gas taxes and impose other fees to raise $600 million in new revenue.

“Roads are so important, especially in a lot of places in Flyover Country, where manufacturing and logistics are more intense,” says Larry Gigerich, an Indiana-based development consultant. “And with the economy doing well, some governors are saying let’s do this now.”