A group of Republican state Senators wants to increase the amount that Michigan plans to spend on harbor dredging this year. State Senator John Proos of Saint Joseph is part of the group that wants to spend another $10-million to $12-million in addition to the $22-million in Governor Snyder's proposed budget.
Proos spoke with WMUK's Gordon Evans about the need for additional money for dredging that could come from the state's Budget Stabilization Fund also known as the "rainy day fund."
Proos says ports and harbors are a major part of Michigan's economy. He tourism related to boating is an $18-million dollar industry. He says money spent on boating generates money for the state's general fund and school aid fund. Proos says there is also an economic impact on shipping.
Governor Snyder's spokesman says the governor is open to discussing how much to spend on dredging, but is opposed to tapping into the "rainy day fund." (Detroit Free Press story) Proos says there may be other options to pay for dredging, including tax increment financing, low-interest loans and setting aside money spent on fueling boats to pay for harbors and ports.
When asked about the role climate change may play in the lower lake levels, Proos said that's a federal issue. He says it's up to the state to make sure that ports remain open and that the tourism industry can continue to grow.