Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a formal Attorney General Opinion stating that the Natural Resources Trust Fund, as created in the Michigan Constitution, cannot be used for the maintenance of existing public recreation facilities, such as maintenance dredging of existing harbors.
“The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund cannot be used as an ATM,” said Schuette. “The voters enshrined the Trust Fund in our Constitution for a very specific purpose: to preserve and protect Michigan’s bountiful resources for generations to come. The message is straightforward – hands off the Trust Fund.”
On March 27, 2013, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation appropriating $21 million from the state general fund and the Michigan State Waterways Fund for emergency dredging projects required due to low water levels in the Great Lakes. However, Schuette’s office has continued to receive questions from others about whether the Natural Resources Trust Fund could be used for similar projects in the future.
“This opinion should put the speculation to rest. Maintenance dredging projects cannot be funded by the Natural Resources Trust Fund, period.”
Schuette concludes in Attorney General Opinion 7270 that money from the Natural Resources Trust Fund “cannot be used for the maintenance of existing public recreation facilities, such as maintenance dredging of existing harbors”.
Press Release, April 23, 2013