The Fifth Estate: Gilbert team will now lobby for road funding

May 31, 2019, 7:00 AM by  Violet Ikonomova

Some have called Dan Gilbert Detroit's shadow mayor. Is he also Michigan's shadow governor? (Photo: Facebook, Cleveland Cavaliers)

In the latest installment of Business Leaders Wield Far Too Much Influence Over the Public Sector, we bring you Dan Gilbert's pre-stroke pledge to "pivot to road funding."

Having gotten his way on auto insurance "reform" after threatening a ballot measure that forced Gov. Whitmer into a negotiation position on a Republican-backed deal, Gilbert reportedly told her he was "all in" on road funding and would now lobby for that cause instead.

Whitmer has gotten nowhere on her plan to create a 45 cent-per-gallon gas tax to raise money to fix Michigan's crumbling roads.

Crain's reported on Gilbert's pledge:

With the no-fault reform bill now law ... Gilbert's team is planning to put the same amount energy into pushing a divided state government to reach an equally unfathomable deal on investing more money in roads and infrastructure.

In his last public statement before being hospitalized about the Legislature's passage last Friday of the no-fault bill, Gilbert said, "it is time to move on to the next big one and fix Michigan's roads and bridges."

Quicken Loans is not taking a formal policy position on Whitmer's proposed 45-cent gas tax increase or her line-in-the-sand demand that the Legislature come up with a plan that generates $2.5 billion more anually for roads and bridges.

"It's not our place to say 45 cents, some cents, this number, that number — I'm not an engineer," Fleisher told Crain's. "We know there has to be a major step taken to solve this problem — and that's what we stand for."

Nor do Fleisher and the team work in government.

With his push for auto insurance reform, Gilbert's main goal was to lower rates to more easily lure job candidates and residents to his businesses and buildings in Detroit (read: make more money), where drivers can pay more than $5,000 per year for car insurance. But the plan he promoted and helped force through is loathed by many on the political left, who say it primarily benefits insurance companies.

Those opponents have argued the new law doesn't guarantee overall rate reductions because it only addresses the personal injury portion of an insurance bill, meaning insurers could still raise costs elsewhere. The law also doesn't eliminate red lining, as some of its proponents have claimed. Rather than set rates based on zipcodes, insurers can now set them based on "territory." It also strips some care from drivers who've been catastrophically injured and is expected to shift costs to government-funded programs like Medicaid. No fiscal analysis was conducted to determine its full impact.

Read more:  Crain's

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