In a proposed budget with major increases thanks to a booming state economy and massive amounts of federal infrastructure and COVID-19 relief funding, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday announced important investments in environmental programs.
As an aide to the governor said, “budgets are a reflection of values.” The Governor’s office characterized Gov. Whitmer’s environmental recommendations as record amounts for protection of water, including the replacement of lead pipes, control of toxic PFAS, rebuilding water infrastructure, and providing safe drinking water in schools.
The Governor’s recommendation calls for a 42.3 percent increase in state general funding for the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and a 45.6 percent increase in total EGLE funding. She is also calling for a 97 percent increase in state general funding for the Department of Natural Resources.
The highlight of the budget is a $500 million expansion of the Governor’s MI Clean Water Plan grant program for community technical support, lead service line removals, support for communities with lead action levels, and funding for communities with impaired water bodies.
The budget recommendation also calls for:
- $34.3 million for high water infrastructure grants to local units of government for high water level and climate resiliency planning and infrastructure needs, focused on addressing flooding, coastline erosion, transportation networks, urban heat, and stormwater management;
- $69.3 million for cleanup of contaminated sites and to improve the ability to identify, assess, and clean up sites of legacy contamination, plus additional funds for rapid response;
- $10 million to begin the conversion of the state government fleet to electrical vehicles, $110 million for the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and $50 million for electric vehicle rebates, providing a $2,000 point-of-sale rebate for the purchase of a new electric vehicle and a $500 rebate for at-home charging equipment for a new or used electric vehicle;
- $50 million for a residential clean energy program to provide affordable financing for clean energy improvements and pre-qualification investments for low-income families; and
- $5.4 million to plant five million hardwood and conifer trees on private land and State land in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.