Detroit Business Leaders vs. GOP: Past Allies Face Off Over Whitmer's Gas Tax Boost

March 15, 2019, 11:27 AM

Executives and civic leaders in the Detroit Regional Chamber like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $2.5-billion road repair approach -- putting them at odds with customary political allies in Lansing.

"Whitmer spoke at the group’s luncheon [Thursday] in Detroit and received a warmer reception on her 45-cent gas tax hike than she has from GOP leaders in the Michigan Legislature," Ken Coleman and Susan J. Demas post at Michigan Advance

The Detroit Regional Chamber last year surprised some in backing Whitmer, a Democrat, in the gubernatorial race over her GOP opponent, then-Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Sandy Baruah: "There is a growing split."
(Photo: Detroit Regional Chamber)

The three-month-old news site quotes Sandy Baruah, the group's president and chief executive since 2010

"There is a growing split between the Republican legislators and the business community. I think that the business community is becoming much more amenable to the 45-cents gas tax to solve the roads problem. . . .

"If someone else can show us a way to raise $2.5 billion a year, we're all ears. But we haven’t seen that."

In a separate commentary, Michigan Advance editor Demas recalls that "During [Gov. Rick] Snyder’s tenure, there was rarely any daylight between Republican politicians and business leaders." The longtime Michigan politics writer admires his Democratic successor's vision and determination:

She's made it clear she's not going to go small on roads like gutless Republicans did in 2015. . . .

If there’s no movement from the GOP-led Legislature, Baruah, in particular, has a powerful platform in May: the Mackinac Policy Conference. Expect that to be three nonstop days of haranguing the captive lawmaker audience to do the right thing.


Read more:  Michigan Advance

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