Governor Whitmer Releases Executive Budget Proposal
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released her executive budget proposal for fiscal years 2024 and 2025 this week, highlighting several natural resources priorities.
Within the governor’s budget, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would receive $529.4 million, including $52.3 million in general fund investment. Some highlights include:
- $43 million in general fund will help Belle Isle State Park upgrade facilities, remove hazardous materials, implement safety measures and perform necessary maintenance.
- $11.9 million in general fund will go towards the creation of an invasive species and habitat strike team. The task force will lead and accelerate efforts to prevent future and contain current invasive species in Michigan.
- $7.8 million in restricted funds will go to state park operations to provide the parks with additional rangers and resources.
- $5 million is allocated for the purchase and implementation of an enterprise asset management system to improve the tracking, maintenance, and replacement of department assets.
- $4 million in general fund will go toward Nature Awaits, a new program that gives every fourth grader in Michigan a chance to experience the Michigan State Park system.
- $3.7 million in general fund will support the state firefighting force in meeting increased fire and emergency response demands.
- $3.5 million in general fund will increase pay for conservation officers to match pay rates with Michigan State Police Troopers in hopes of improving recruitment and retention of conservation officers.
- $3.5 million in general fund will fund Great Lakes splash pads in Warren Dunes, Grand Haven, and Holland parks.
- $2.5 million in restricted funds will go toward forest land management equipment.
- $2 million (restricted and general funds) will help broaden State Park Initiatives to increase outreach and engagement with disadvantaged communities by expanding cultural and historic exhibits and assisting in archiving vital state records.
- $1.5 million in restricted funds will expand the carbon credit program of the climate and carbon sequestration program, which will allow more Michigan businesses to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.
- $258,900 in general fund will go toward conservation officer body cameras to support initiatives of the existing body camera program.
- Additionally, a continued 2023 supplemental will help to further protect against aquatic nuisance species by investing $64 million in general fund as Michigan’s required match for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project, a layered system of control measures designed to prevent degradation of the Great Lakes by aquatic invasives such as the invasive carp.
More detailed line items can be expected in forthcoming legislation in the early summer. The legislature generally passes budget bills prior to going on summer vacation at the end of June.
MUCC is pleased to see $11.9 million going towards the creation of an invasive species and habitat strike team to focus on species having detrimental impacts to our native species and public access. Additionally, Michigan should continue to be a local partner in the Brandon Road Lock and Dam adding to our initial $8 million down payment to kick off the planning and design phase, although we continue to ask Congress and the federal government to pick up more of their share in the expenses of the construction, operations and maintenance as they have done for other regionally-beneficial federal projects
Omitted from the executive budget proposal were funds capping the State Parks Endowment Fund (SPEF). Last session there was a Senate proposal to fill SPEF to its constitutional cap, but was left out of the historic parks infrastructure deal. MUCC will continue to work with the legislature to see that this funding is included in either the FY24 budget or in future supplemental packages. It is also not clear if our continued modest request for cormorant management funding of $250,000 is included in the proposal, but we will be communicating with the appropriation committees and the DNR about the need.
To ensure our natural resources remain protected and managed thoughtfully and our outdoor heritage defended, join Michigan United Conservation Clubs today: http://bit.ly/JoinMUCC.
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