Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry explained the politics behind the freshly passed roads funding bill and how it won't actually fix roads for a few years. He also gave an update on the Flint drinking water crisis and how it resulted in a new mayor in that city. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation that will increase fuel taxes and registration fees and re-prioritize spending to raise more than $1 billion to fix roads.

Michigan roads
user nirbhao / Flickr

The legislature this week passed a package of bills to fund Michigan roads. The legislation would bump up the state’s gas tax by seven cents per gallon, and boost vehicle registration fees by 20% beginning in 2017. It will increase taxes by $600 million also starting in 2017. The plan will also move $600 million from other areas in the state budget.

Michigan roads
user nirbhao / Flickr


A late-night deal to fund road repair, construction and other transportation issues barely passed the Michigan House on Tuesday. After years of stalled debate, deals gone nowhere and a voter-rejected referendum, Governor Snyder is now reviewing a bill that partly solves the road funding question in Michigan.

Michigan Public Radio Network reporter Jake Neher explains the ins and outs of the bill in the interview above. 

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry says he wasn't surprised to see that former state representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser didn't regain their seats after their sex and cover up scandal. Lessenberry says Flint's water crisis was a big reason why political newcomer Karen Weaver will now take over Dayne Walling's position as Flint mayor. Lessenberry also explains the road funding plan, which is now on it's way to Governor Rick Snyder's desk. Lessenberry says the roads plan won't actually fix the roads. 

Michigan roads
user nirbhao / Flickr

After years of gridlock, state lawmakers have sent Governor Rick Snyder legislation to boost road funding.

 The legislation would increase the state’s gas tax by seven cents a gallon and boost vehicle registration fees by twenty percent starting in 2017. It raises taxes by 600 million dollars starting in 2017. It also eventually shifts 600 million dollars from other areas of the state budget. 

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There were feelings of optimism earlier this week in Lansing that the state Senate might just pass a road funding plan the House passed the week before.

But, once again, that optimism has fallen flat, as the House adjourned without a vote after about eight hours of discussion.

For this Week in Michigan PoliticsI talked with Michigan Radio's senior news analyst, Jack Lessenberry about why so many students didn't do well on the state's new standardized test and what should be done about bullying in schools. We also got an update on the latest road funding plan

Wikimedia Commons

Just fix the roads already.

That's what some Michigan business leaders are all but begging Lansing to do, even if means getting behind $600 million in new taxes and fees.

But they say  that’s how bad the roads are.

"I hope that's the message that the legislators hear, that it is just that important. Because we don't take this lightly,” says Rick Baker, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

His group and six other chambers – mostly from West Michigan – put out a statement today demanding Lansing take “immediate action on roads.”

WFIU Public Radio / Creative Commons

The state House met into the night to adopt a road-funding plan, but it seems that a final deal on paying for road repairs remains elusive.

The $1 billion package relies on new fuel taxes and vehicle fees. But half the money would also come from cutting other parts of the budget.

Donald Trump speaks at the 2015 CPAC in Maryland
flickr user Gage Skidmore /

It's no secret that voters here in Michigan and across the country are angry and cynical about the notorious gridlock in Washington that has brought the country to its knees with budget showdowns.

It doesn't help that Michigan lawmakers have returned to their summer vacations without a deal to repair our decaying roads.

But as Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes points out, the state House found time to devote to a sex scandal.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you think your morning commute is taking longer in Grand Rapids and Detroit, a new report says you’re right.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s annual Urban Mobility Scorecard shows it’s taking longer for many Michigan motorists to get around.

Michigan drivers have become all too familiar with the dreaded pothole.
flickr user Michael Gil /

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss another road funding plan, proposed changes for medical marijuana cardholders, and body cameras.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

To get an idea of how bad the roads in Hamtramck, Michigan are, you could just drive around

Or you could go talk to Jon Sucher.

A lot of times if you hear about a bad pothole on the news, I’ll know about it first because if it’s around here, people come to me,” says Sucher, the owner of Sucher Tire on East Davison, right across the street from Hamtramck.

Wikimedia Commons

More than half of Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids' roads are in poor condition, according to a recent study by the transportation research group TRIP. That makes them some of the worst in the nation.

Victor Li with a sample of his self-healing concrete
Victor Li

Michigan isn’t alone in the struggle to repair crumbling roads and bridges.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America's infrastructure a grade of "D" based on years of underfunding and delayed maintenance.

Victor Li may have the key to solving this nationwide struggle.

The University of Michigan civil and environmental engineering professor has invented self-healing concrete. It can bend, and if it cracks, it can repair itself.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry explains the latest road funding proposal, an effort by the Snyder administration to prevent sexual assault on college campuses and the latest on efforts to help ease the foreclosure crisis in Wayne County.

To parody Winston Churchill, this year’s Battle of the Budget is Over; the Battle of the Roads is about to begin. The legislature passed the general fund budget this week with rather less fuss than I would have expected, given some of the controversial decisions.

A Minute with Mike: The Oracle

Jun 2, 2015
minute with mike logo
Vic Reyes

I've dusted off the old 8-ball Ouija-tron to find out what's happening in future Michigan.

Dateline: Lansing, December 2034

In what some describe as a desperate move, state officials will sell the naming rights to Michigan highways and byways as a way to generate money for road repair.

Lawmakers were proud to introduce the Roads Ain't Cheap Act.

Prosperity for the Prosperous spokesperson Renee Barbarella Jr. says it's a great move by Michigan, and taxpayers should be ecstatic with road funding shifting from John Q. Citizen to Big Corporate Brother.

How a pothole forms gif animation
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

After Proposal  1 was voted down earlier this month, the message from voters seemed to be that they wanted a bill that simply addressed road funding. No extra politics, special interests or provisions.

So what happens when you strip away the politics of road repair? What goes into the actual, well, road repair?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

After the failure of Proposal 1 in the May 5 election, Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants wanted to figure out why. This past weekend we polled 600 likely voters about their thoughts on the recent ballot proposal.

Proposal 1 was meant to fund Michigan road repair and included increased funding for schools and other provisions.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters said no Tuesday to Proposal 1 by a margin of almost four-to-one. But, as unhappy as people were with the ballot question, they’re still unhappy with the state of Michigan’s roads. 

When the magnitude of Proposal One’s defeat became clear, I called Denise Donahue, director of the County Road Association of Michigan.  Her members know better than anyone how bad our state and local roads are.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About two-thirds of Michigan roads get no federal funding. Once you get off the interstates and highways, most of the county, city, and township roads are totally reliant on state and local taxes. A new survey indicates nearly half of those 80,000 miles of roads are in poor condition.

The numbers come from the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council.

Wikimedia Commons

Michigan voters head to the polls in less than a month to vote on a ballot proposal to raise the state's sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to fund roads. For this Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry explains why there's a lack of support for the proposal and what will happen if voters reject the tax increase. 

Gov. Rick Snyder

Governor Rick Snyder was at the Michigan Radio studios earlier today for a special call-in program, taking your questions. The show was hosted by Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is also the co-host along with Zoe Clark of It's Just Politics.

Ryan Elder

One way to prevent accidents might come from redesigning road signs. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The first TV ad urging passage of a Michigan sales tax increase says the roads aren't just bad, they're dangerous.

A group backing a "yes" vote on a May ballot measure will start airing the 30-second ad Monday.

It features a mid-Michigan mother who says her family is on the road a lot for kids' basketball and soccer, and she worries about concrete falling from bridges.

The I-96/23 Interchange only approximates a "Thunderdome." To find the real thing, you would, of course, have to go Burning Man.
Matthew Gordon / Flickr

The I-96/US 23 highway interchange can be like Thunderdome - two cars enter, one car leaves.

But that's about to change.

MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) is set to make what it calls "major safety and operational improvements" to how cars and trucks merge and exit the two major highway systems next month.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

GRAND HAVEN, Mich.  - Another round of winter weather is expected to make travel difficult in parts of Michigan as bitterly cold temperatures moderate somewhat.

Temperatures on Tuesday morning ranged from just above zero to the low 20s. It was 6 in Detroit, 7 in Grand Rapids and 17 in Traverse City.