Rick Snyder earns praise for backing $100 million proposal to fund conservation projects
The Michigan League of Conservation Voters said in a statement this afternoon that Snyder laid out a "largely positive vision for Michigan's natural resources and environment."
In addition to his support of $25 million to continue funding the Pure Michigan tourism campaign, Snyder said Wednesday night he's in favor of a $100 million proposal by the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board to fund 117 conservation projects.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
"These projects will positively impact every corner of our state, from Iron County in the Upper Peninsula, to Traverse City, to Luna Pier in Monroe County," Snyder said. "Also included is a significant expansion of the William G. Milliken Park on the Detroit riverfront."
The LCV called that "very welcoming news."
"The upcoming budget the governor promised to deliver will be full of painful decisions, but his commitment to preserving the integrity of programs such as these sends a signal that a healthy environment is essential for a healthy economy in Michigan," the group stated.
The LCV offered some criticism, though, saying Snyder's reliance on the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program is "not enough to guarantee sufficient enforcement of the essential safeguards on land and water quality." The group agreed agriculture is a pillar of Michigan's economy, but said that's all the more reason for strong enforcement.
Snyder's speech earned high marks from several other groups, including Business Leaders for Michigan, a roundtable organization that includes the chairpersons, chief executives or most senior executives of Michigan's largest companies and universities.
The group is pleased Snyder has made improving Michigan’s competitiveness for jobs his top priority, said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO.
"We especially applaud his plans for reforming business taxes, improving government collaboration and refocusing the state’s economic development priorities," Rothwell said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the Snyder administration and the Legislature to make Michigan a 'top ten' state for jobs and economic growth.”
While Snyder talked in more detail than usual Wednesday night, he has been criticized for offering little in the way of how he plans to pay for the projects he outlined while staring at a state budget deficit of at least $1.8 billion. He also failed to offer any more detail about his proposal to eliminate the Michigan Business Tax, which could nearly double the deficit.
Also missing from Snyder's speech was any mention of high-speed rail from Detroit to Chicago, a major initiative that has federal funds behind it but still needs state matching funds.
Snyder told AnnArbor.com last week he's still making up his mind on the viability of high-speed rail as an option for Michigan.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529.