Proposal 1 has no organized opposition and it probably seems like a no-brainer to most people, especially those in the environmental community. But Proposal 1 deserves closer examination.
The ballot language for Proposal 1 states:
"A proposal to amend the State Constitution to require that money held in conservation and recreation funds can only be used for their intended purposes."
On the surface, who could disagree with such a purpose? But how many people have read the actual language of the proposal?
The full text of all proposals can be found at:
The most significant aspect of Proposal 1, at least in terms of dollars, seems embodied in the following section establishing the "recreation improvement account". This section states:
" The recreation improvement account is established as an account within the legacy fund. The recreation improvement account shall consist of all tax revenue derived from the sale of two percent of the gasoline sold in this state for consumption in internal combustion engines and other revenues as authorized by law. Money in the recreation improvement account shall be distributed as follows:
(a) Eighty percent of the money shall be annually transferred to the waterways account to be used for the purposes of that account.
(b) Fourteen percent of the money shall be annually transferred to the snowmobile account to be used for the purposes of that account.
(c) The remainder of the money that is not transferred under this section shall be used, upon appropriation, for recreation projects, including grants to state colleges and universities to implement recreation projects, and for the administration of the recreation improvement account. <snip> "
As further stated in the proposed Constitutional amendment, the waterways account would fund:
" (a) The construction, operation, and maintenance of recreational boating facilities that provide public access to waterways or moorage of watercraft. <snip>
(c) Grants to local units of government and state colleges and universities for the provision of public access or moorage of watercraft and law enforcement or boating education to recreational watercraft operators.<snip>
(d) The acquisition and development of harbors and public access sites.<snip>
(g) Other uses as provided by law as long as the uses are consistent with the development,
improvement, operation, promotion, and maintenance of the state’s waterways programs. "
The snowmobile account would primarily be for the "planning, construction, maintenance, and acquisition of trails and areas for the use of snowmobiles."
First of all, under present state law, are 2% of all sales taxes and gas taxes from the sale of gasoline (are there any sales of gasoline in this state which are not for use in internal combustion engines?) deposited into such a fund? Do 80% of those funds presently go into the waterways program, and 14% into the snowmobile program? Or is this a new set aside to benefit these programs?
I, for one, do not want 94% of a multi-million dollar fund cemented into the Constitution to forever fund dredging of harbors, access sites and snowmobile trails which are oftentimes destructive. I would much rather have those millions of our tax dollars used to protect our natural heritage, not access it or abuse it, as the case may be.
It should be noted that these dollars, Constitutionally earmarked and very hard to change, could be used to dredge the AuTrain River in the Upper Peninsula, or for a variety of other ill-advised projects. Proposal 1 deserves a lot of scrutiny.
Can anyone answer the questions relative to the present gas taxes and the existing funds?