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Re: E-M:/ Vote NO on Proposal 1?

Enviro-Mich message from "April Lynn Bennett" <benne217@msu.edu>

In response to Jack Smiley’s posting regarding Proposal 1, he “hit the nail on the head” with his first statement “ Proposal 1 has no organized opposition and it probably seems like a no-brainer to most people”…. It is true that Proposal 1 has no organized opposition and it is also true that this should be a no-brainer for all of us who treasure our access to Michigan’s natural wonders. I hope that you will join me in voting YES on Proposal 1.

In regards to the questions he poised further in his comments:

Questions: Under present state law, are 2% of all sales taxes and gas taxes from the sale of gasoline deposited into such a fund: Do 80% of those funds presently go into the waterways program and 14% in to the snowmobile programs Is is this a new set aside to benefit these programs?

Answer No this is not a new set aside, but a very important victory that was a real battle in the legislature in the 80’s. The argument was whether road construction and maintenance should receive all of the gas tax or should we recognize the fuel that is being consumed by boats, lawnmowers, snowmobiles and other recreation users. Because of this agreement we were able to create the Recreation Improvement Fund which provides funds for trail construction and maintenance and the state forest recreation system.

Here is the language from the Recreation Improvement Fund
(2) Of the total fund, not less than 80% shall be credited to the Michigan state waterways fund, not less than 14% to the recreational snowmobile trail improvement fund, and the remaining balance, if any, shall be distributed to recreational projects. Of the remaining balance credited to recreational projects in a fiscal year, not less than 25% of any funds designated for projects intended for off-road vehicles shall be expended on projects to repair damages as a result of pollution, impairment, or destruction of air, water, or other natural resources, or the public trust in air, water, or other natural resources, as a result of the use of off-road vehicles.

Statement: I for one, do not want 94% of a milti-million dollar fund cemeted into the Constitution….

Response: Mr. Smiley has the right to vote however he wants. But voting no on Proposal One opens the door for continued raids on the only funds that are available to provide access to Michigan’s great natural resources. Voting no does not change the allocation of dollars it just leaves them vulnerable. I should also point out that it is not “million of our tax dollars,” these funds are only comprised only of user or license fees and a percent of the gas tax that represents the portion of gas consumed by boats, snowmobiles, orv and other recreational uses. Mr. Smiley may not like the gas tax being used for snowmobile trails, boating access sites and construction of other recreational trails, but his alternative is to have it all go into road building and maintenance not for natural resources protection.

The recreational infrastructure of this state is vital to our economy and our quality of life. Our state parks is the only system in the county being totally supported by user fees, our wildlife and fisheries management programs receive no general tax support, likewise public access sites, trails and snowmobile program also do not receive general fund support. From where I sit, I cannot believe that all of us who treasure Michigan’s natural resources would not stick together and support Proposal 1.

Smileysmlc@aol.com writes:


Thank you for providing the link to the relevant state statute. At least it appears that the language of Proposal 1 is in line with existing state law. However, to embed those formulas into the Constitution--to ensure that there is little chance of using those tax dollars more effectively or for conservation--seems questionable at best.

What I found interesting in the original state law was that the Legislature made a legislative finding that 2% of all gasoline sold in the state was used for watercraft, snowmobiles and registered off-road vehicles. I haven't seen the study upon which that estimate was likely based, but I would be interested to know if the Department of Transportation has done any recent studies in that regard--especially since the original study was done prior to 1992*(*see below). From my perspective from driving in the volumes of traffic in southeast Michigan, I would think that 2% might be on the high side.

I understand that there is a real temptation to put certain aspects of Michigan government into the State Constitution--but the Constitution should not become a reconstituted version of Michigan Compiled Laws.

Jack Smiley

- - - - - - - - - - - -

324.71103 Legislative finding; joint report. Sec. 71103.
(1) The legislature finds that 2.0% of all of the gasoline sold in this state for consumption in internal combustion engines is used to generate power for the operation or propulsion of vessels on the waterways of this state, of off-road vehicles, and of snowmobiles. (2) The department and the state transportation department shall prepare a joint report to the legislature by January 1, 1992, providing their estimate of actual gasoline and diesel fuel usage based on any data collected from March 30, 1988 to January 1, 1991 and their observation of the historical trends of gasoline and diesel fuel usage in this state for the following categories:
(a) Off-road vehicles.
(b) Watercraft. (c) Snowmobiles.

History: Add. 1995, Act 58, Imd. Eff. May 24, 1995 Popular Name: Act 451

April Bennett

Resource Policy Assistant
Michigan United Conservation Clubs

Campaign Coordinator
Citizens Supporting Proposal 06-1


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