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Republicans unveil nearly $1 billion plan for Michigan parks

New bills would pay for state and local park projects or operations
Families across Michigan visit campground at Bay City State Park for holiday weekend.
Families across Michigan visit campground at Bay City State Park for holiday weekend.(Michael Nafso/WJRT)
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 2:29 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Republicans want to invest nearly $1 billion into improving, maintaining and operating parks across Michigan with a new plan unveiled Tuesday.

The three-bill package goes a step further than Gov. Whitmer’s separate plans totaling $400 million announced over the summer to invest federal COVID-19 relief money in state parks and municipal parks.

Like Whitmer’s plan, Republicans are calling for spending $150 million to develop and improve local parks across Michigan under Senate Bill 704. GOP lawmakers also proposed investing $250 million into a maintenance backlog at state parks and recreation areas with Senate Bill 703.

That bill also includes $30 million for development of sports facilities in Northern Michigan and $30 million for the Mackinac Island state park fund.

“Our local parks and trails are an everyday part of life for many Michigan families, and this program would help ensure that they are safe and accessible for people to enjoy for years to come,” said Republican State Sen. Michael MacDonald of Macomb Township.

The new proposal from Republicans includes a $508 million cash infusion for the State Park Endowment Fund under Senate Bill 702. Interest earned on that money would be spent annually on operation, maintenance and improvements for Michigan state parks.

“During the pandemic, people flocked to our state and local parks to enjoy the outdoors with family, which exposed much-needed improvements at many of our parks,” MacDonald said. “This one-time investment can help us address our aging park facilities and support our recovering communities.”

All three bills were referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. They would have to pass the House and Senate before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could consider signing them into law.

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