2017-04-08 / Columnists

Michigan Politics

Great Lakes Issues Loom Large
By George Weeks

President Donald Trump vows to “Make America Great Again.” But I ask from the shore of Lake Michigan: what’s his vow about the Great Lakes, where he proposes to drastically cut federal funding?

Michigan’s congressional delegation, including its two Democratic senators and new First District U.S. Representative Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet), is waging a spirited fight to counter the cuts.

Senator Debbie Stabenow, cochair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, said of Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget request, which eliminates funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:

“It is outrageous that President Trump’s budget request completely eliminates funding to protect the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has always received bipartisan support and continues to be absolutely critical to protecting our Great Lakes, including fishing, boating, hunting, and fighting invasive species.

“Our Great Lakes economy creates 1.5 million jobs and [they] are part of our Michigan way of life. I will continue working across the aisle to not only stop cuts to Great Lakes funding, but also to other important initiatives that are important to Michigan families, manufacturers, farmers, and small businesses.”

Michigan’s junior senator, Gary Peters, who, like Stabenow, is a former state senator, said:

“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding is the premier tool for protecting the health of the Great Lakes, and these proposed cuts would not only harm cleanup efforts, they also threaten Michigan’s multi-billion dollar commercial shipping, fishing, and tourism industries.

“I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight against these drastic cuts and protect the Great Lakes for future generations.”

Last week, Stabenow, who helped launch the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2010, distributed a video message urging Michiganians “to stand up to protect critical funding for the Great Lakes.”

Also last week, U.S. Representative Dan Kildee of Flint, who may seek the next Democratic nomination for governor, said:

“President Trump continues to attack our way of life in Michigan by cutting Great Lakes protection efforts. It is outrageous that the President has not only proposed eliminating the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative next year, but now wants to immediately cut from the program this year to pay for a border wall.”

Among allies on Great Lakes and other issues over the years is the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, which last week was critical of the Trump administration.

The Supremes

It was hardly a surprise that Michigan Senators Stabenow and Peters declared they would vote against confirmation of Trump-nominee Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was a surprise when former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young disclosed that he intends to leave the court to return to private practice.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was with The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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