Great Lakes funding in peril under Trump budget plan

Grand Haven, Lake Michigan
The pier at Grand Haven on Jan. 8, 2018.

WASHINGTON (WOOD) — Great Lakes funding that lawmakers fought to protect last year is once again on the budget chopping block under President Donald Trump’s newly unveiled plan.

The president wants to slash the $300 million budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to about $30 million.

The proposed cut brought swift objections from Michigan lawmakers.

Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who authored the bill to fund the GLRI in 2010, was one of the first elected officials to respond to the proposed cut:

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned, we can’t take it for granted that others understand how important our water is. This is outrageous. People across Michigan spoke out and took action last year to stop these cuts and I know they’ll do so again,” she said in a statement Monday.

Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint shared similar sentiments:

“I strongly oppose President Trump’s reckless cuts to the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative helps to combat invasive species like Asian Carp and protects our freshwater lakes from pollution. These investments have bipartisan support because protecting our Great Lakes is not a partisan issue.

“Cutting Great Lakes investments by 90 percent—essentially eliminating the program—threatens the health of our lakes and jeopardizes Michigan’s economy. The Great Lakes help to generate billions of dollars in economic activity and support 1.5 million good-paying jobs in the tourism, boating and fishing industries.

“In Congress, both Republicans and Democrats have rejected President Trump’s previous attempts to cut Great Lakes funding. I will fight these draconian cuts in every way that I can,” he stated.

Trump faced bipartisan opposition when he proposed the cut last year. Ultimately the idea was dropped and the funding remained intact.

Trump’s spending plan will likely face similar challenges from Republicans and Democrats when or even if it’s considered in the U.S. House or Senate.