Natural Resources Trust Fund: applauded and attacked

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder gave a state of the state address tonight that touched on issues related to biking in Michigan, including this:

“I urge the prompt passage of a capital outlay bill that implements the recommendations of the Natural Resources Trust Fund. From the greatness of the land and the resourcefulness of the citizens of the Upper Peninsula to the unquestioned beauty and economic engine as our Great Lakes, natural resources and recreation have always been among our strongest areas. The Fund’s board of trustees has recommended 117 recreation and land acquisition projects totaling more than $100 million. 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. Also included is a significant expansion of the William G. Milliken Park on the Detroit Riverfront.”

That is excellent to hear and very welcomed. And it was good to see the bipartisan standing ovation it received.

However, it was just last Thursday when West Michigan legislators introduced bills (HB 4021HB 4028HJR B) that would raid the Natural Resources Trust Fund. It would divert upwards of 80% of its annual revenues. Twenty percent of the diverted funds would go towards the State Aeronautics Fund while the remainder would go to the Michigan Transportation Fund.

The intent of this Trust Fund is to take revenues from irreplaceable natural resources extracted from public lands and make longterm investments in new public lands and parks. This proposed Trust Fund raid would put most of the money into airports and road projects.

Having a deja vu? Yes, these same bills were introduced in the last session. They died in committee. It’s difficult to say if these bills will move further along given the new Republican control of the House.

Other items in the state of the state

The Governor said the state should reward municipalities that consolidate and share services. Does this mean they would provide incentives for counties governments to absorb their road commissions? Not sure.

It was great to hear the Governor promote wellness.

“We will look to build a system that encourages all of us to have an annual physical, reduce obesity and encourage a healthier, active lifestyle in our state”

As someone noted on Twitter, Complete Streets would help.

And lastly Snyder  threw his support behind the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC). The DRIC’s current plans are to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. This could be one option for getting between Canada and the U.S.

Canada wants this new bridge so badly that they’ve agreed to cover Michigan’s capital investment. Canada’s loan would be paid back through bridge tolls.

The big news is the Federal Highway Administration has agreed to count this loan as Michigan’s match for federal transportation dollars. Without match dollars, the state could lose millions in road funding. This appears to be a huge win which removes some pressure to find transportation money in other places.

Like the Trust Fund.

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