Reports of possible Great Lakes funding cuts stoke lawmaker concerns

Oval Beach, Lake Michigan, Saugatuck
A sailboat on Lake Michigan at Oval Beach in Saugatuck. (Courtesy Thurston De Vos, file)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Reports that President Donald Trump’s budget might include cutting funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is raising concerns from both sides of the aisle.

Approximately $300 million has been dedicated to the GLRI, which is aimed at restoring and maintaining the Great Lakes. While nothing official has come from the White House, there are rumored cuts to the fund. Congressional members from the Great Lakes region, including Michigan, vow that will not happen.

“Support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has always been bipartisan, even when President Obama attempted to cut $50 million from the $300 million GLRI, we banded together as Democrats and Republicans to get that money restored. I am hopeful that that same support will help keep this program intact,” said Democrat and U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint. “If the White House is moving forward on this – and it looks like they are – it would be a huge mistake for them to pursue this.”

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R- St. Joseph, also weighed in on the situation with the following statement:

“These reports are alarming. We have previously communicated with the new administration that our Great Lakes must be a priority and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative must be fully funded,” stated Upton, who added that Congress will have the final say on all budgetary matters.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, was equally concerned:

“It is outrageous that just days after delaying a critical plan to stop Asian carp, it appears that President Trump’s budget is calling for a 97 percent cut in funding for the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” she said in a statement Friday.

Stabenow said she was calling on Trump to “reverse course on these harmful decisions.”

The White House has not confirmed the cuts, though both Republicans and Democrats appear to believe they are considering the move.