Sunday, January 16, 2011

Republicans Want to Raid the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund

I knew this was coming, and it doesn't surprise me a bit that Agema is behind it. Republicans can't resist a chance to raid the coffers and shift money out of one successful program so they can avoid the heavy lifting it takes to properly fund other areas of the budget. That money just calls out to them in the night. From Michigan Votes:

House Joint Resolution B (Shift state oil and gas revenue from recreation to roads )

Introduced by Rep. David Agema (R) on January 13, 2011, to place before voters in the next general election a Constitutional amendment to no longer deposit all of the revenue from oil and gas leases on state property into the Natural Resources Trust Fund, which uses the money on recreational infrastructure projects, state parks and to buy more state land. Instead, just 20 percent of this revenue would go into the fund, and under House Bill 4028, most of the rest would go to road construction and repair projects, plus some for airport projects.

"Most" of the rest? Here is a description of what the NRTF is all about:

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) has been in place since 1976. It provides financial assistance to local governments and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) to purchase land or rights in land for public recreation or protection of land because of its environmental importance or its scenic beauty. It also assists in the appropriate development of land for public outdoor recreation.

The MNRTF is supported by annual revenues from the development of State-owned mineral resources, largely oil and gas. It is governed by Article 9, Section 35 of the State Constitution and Part 19 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 451 PA 1994, as amended. The program is administered by the MNRTF Board of Trustees and the Grants Management office of the DNRE. The MNRTF Board of Trustees meets six times a year and all meetings are open to the public.

MNRTF projects provide for natural resource protection and outdoor recreation. By law, no more than 25 percent of the Trust Fund revenues available for appropriation each year can be used for development, therefore the majority of funding is allocated for acquisition projects.

Stealing from paradise to pave the parking lots. We made a boatload of money on leases last spring as speculators drove up the price per acre in anticipation of new fracking technology that will reach natural gas. That money is supposed to be set aside to develop our parks and recreation, so citizens and tourists alike can enjoy this beautiful state. So, add it all up, not only are we going to use techniques that poison the environment to reach fossil fuel deposits that will only profit the select few, we will destroy our ability to fund the purchase of new land for more parks in the future.

Surprised the enviros haven't jumped on this, but it really hasn't been reported in the MSM yet. Governor Milliken, care to respond to this new legislation? We could probably use a word from you before this gets off the ground. It's either that, or get ready to fight on a ballot proposal in the next election.

Congratulations Michigan, you've elected the Republicans. They are going to try and steal everything that isn't nailed down - and they will even try to steal some of the stuff that is.

Got that bridge up on eBay yet?