Booher introduces Natural Resources Trust Fund reform

LANSING— Sen. Darwin Booher recently introduced legislation to bring more accountability and oversight to the state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) project recommendation and approval process.

“The Natural Resources Trust Fund improves our quality of life by using constitutionally restricted dollars to help support local development projects that enhance our outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I am supportive of these local projects, but I am also greatly concerned about a lack of transparency in the current process that creates an unaccountable pool of dollars for ‘ecoregion’ land purchases.

“My legislation will ensure proper legislative oversight of state funds by banning the use of vague ecoregions and require the trust fund board to identify and score each individual project and then submit that full, detailed list for legislative approval.”

Senate Bill 1238 would require the NRTF board to review and score parcels individually and add to its annual report the status of each project, including information on when the project was started, its current status and a timeline for completion.

“This year, the state requested $4.4 million for ‘ecoregions’ without specifically identifying what land would be purchased and for what cost,” Booher said. “This was in addition to a total of $7 million from 2008 to 2011 that is sitting – unspent – in an ecoregions fund. I strongly oppose the ecoregions process because I believe that giving the state a blank check to buy more land however it sees fit is a failure of our role as lawmakers to oversee state spending.”

Booher’s bill would also require an annual report to the standing committees on unspent funds and direct the NRFT board to give greater consideration to land acquisitions that would allow for increased recreational use of public lands.

“Importantly, my reform would not affect local purchases and development projects,” Booher said. “It is about applying the detailed, transparent process for those local projects to the state’s trust fund system. These changes are especially important in Northern Michigan, where I continually hear from residents about access issues on public lands and that the state is not meeting its current payments in lieu of taxes obligations to locals for the land it already owns.”   

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Booher introduces Natural Resources Trust Fund reform

LANSING— Sen. Darwin Booher recently introduced legislation to bring more accountability and oversight to the state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) project recommendation and approval process.

“The Natural Resources Trust Fund improves our quality of life by using constitutionally restricted dollars to help support local development projects that enhance our outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I am supportive of these local projects, but I am also greatly concerned about a lack of transparency in the current process that creates an unaccountable pool of dollars for ‘ecoregion’ land purchases.

“My legislation will ensure proper legislative oversight of state funds by banning the use of vague ecoregions and require the trust fund board to identify and score each individual project and then submit that full, detailed list for legislative approval.”

Senate Bill 1238 would require the NRTF board to review and score parcels individually and add to its annual report the status of each project, including information on when the project was started, its current status and a timeline for completion.

“This year, the state requested $4.4 million for ‘ecoregions’ without specifically identifying what land would be purchased and for what cost,” Booher said. “This was in addition to a total of $7 million from 2008 to 2011 that is sitting – unspent – in an ecoregions fund. I strongly oppose the ecoregions process because I believe that giving the state a blank check to buy more land however it sees fit is a failure of our role as lawmakers to oversee state spending.”

Booher’s bill would also require an annual report to the standing committees on unspent funds and direct the NRFT board to give greater consideration to land acquisitions that would allow for increased recreational use of public lands.

“Importantly, my reform would not affect local purchases and development projects,” Booher said. “It is about applying the detailed, transparent process for those local projects to the state’s trust fund system. These changes are especially important in Northern Michigan, where I continually hear from residents about access issues on public lands and that the state is not meeting its current payments in lieu of taxes obligations to locals for the land it already owns.”   

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Sen. Booher and Rep. Potvin announce joint September office hours

LANSING – Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, and Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, announced today they will conduct joint office hours in Mecosta and Osceola counties on Monday, Sept. 10. The office hours are open to residents to express their opinions or request assistance with a state issue.

Date                            Time                    Location    

Monday, Sept. 10         9 to 10 a.m.       Reed City Chamber of Commerce
                                                                  200 N. Chestnut St.
                                                                  Reed City

                                   12 to 2 p.m.        Big Rapids Chamber of Commerce
                                                                  246 N. State St.
                                                                  Big Rapids

For more information, please contact Booher’s office toll-free at 1-866-305-2135 or via email at:  sendbooher@senate.michigan.gov. Residents unable to attend office hours may also write Booher at: Sen. Darwin Booher; P.O. Box 30036; Lansing, MI 48909.

Potvin may be contacted at 517-373-1747 or by email at: PhilPotvin@house.mi.gov. Residents may also write Potvin at: S-1386 House Office Building; P.O. Box 30014; Lansing, MI 48909.

Booher represents the 35th Senate District, which includes Benzie, Clare, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mecosta, Missaukee, Osceola, Roscommon, and Wexford counties.

Potvin represents the 102nd House District, which includes Mecosta, Osceola and Wexford counties.

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Sen. Booher and Rep. Potvin announce joint September office hours

LANSING – Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, and Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, announced today they will conduct joint office hours in Mecosta and Osceola counties on Monday, Sept. 10. The office hours are open to residents to express their opinions or request assistance with a state issue.

Date                            Time                    Location    

Monday, Sept. 10         9 to 10 a.m.       Reed City Chamber of Commerce
                                                                  200 N. Chestnut St.
                                                                  Reed City

                                   12 to 2 p.m.        Big Rapids Chamber of Commerce
                                                                  246 N. State St.
                                                                  Big Rapids

For more information, please contact Booher’s office toll-free at 1-866-305-2135 or via email at:  sendbooher@senate.michigan.gov. Residents unable to attend office hours may also write Booher at: Sen. Darwin Booher; P.O. Box 30036; Lansing, MI 48909.

Potvin may be contacted at 517-373-1747 or by email at: PhilPotvin@house.mi.gov. Residents may also write Potvin at: S-1386 House Office Building; P.O. Box 30014; Lansing, MI 48909.

Booher represents the 35th Senate District, which includes Benzie, Clare, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mecosta, Missaukee, Osceola, Roscommon, and Wexford counties.

Potvin represents the 102nd House District, which includes Mecosta, Osceola and Wexford counties.

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Booher: School employee retirement reform needed to reduce school costs, ensure stability of system

LANSING? Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, issued the following statement Wednesday after the Legislature finalized reforms to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, known as MPSERS:

“I am pleased that we were able to take the first major step to solving a problem that was already affecting our schools and jeopardized the entire retirement system of our teachers.

“The MPSERS system has an unfunded liability of nearly $50 billion – larger than the entire state budget – and was getting worse each day.

“The cost of the unsustainable system was already having an effect on the classroom, with school contributions to MPSERS accounting for an average of 24 percent of a school’s payroll. Without action, that contribution was going to increase to 27 percent this coming school year and was estimated to reach as much as 40 percent within a decade.

“I supported the MPSERS reforms because I was elected to help solve our state’s problems, not sit idly by and watch an important retirement system drive itself off a cliff. Doing nothing would have been an irresponsible and reckless choice.

“Today’s action will reduce school costs, ensure more dollars go into the classroom to teach our children and make sure the system is there for the thousands of school employees currently relying on it and those counting on it to be there when they retire.”

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Booher: School employee retirement reform needed to reduce school costs, ensure stability of system

LANSING? Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, issued the following statement Wednesday after the Legislature finalized reforms to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, known as MPSERS:

“I am pleased that we were able to take the first major step to solving a problem that was already affecting our schools and jeopardized the entire retirement system of our teachers.

“The MPSERS system has an unfunded liability of nearly $50 billion – larger than the entire state budget – and was getting worse each day.

“The cost of the unsustainable system was already having an effect on the classroom, with school contributions to MPSERS accounting for an average of 24 percent of a school’s payroll. Without action, that contribution was going to increase to 27 percent this coming school year and was estimated to reach as much as 40 percent within a decade.

“I supported the MPSERS reforms because I was elected to help solve our state’s problems, not sit idly by and watch an important retirement system drive itself off a cliff. Doing nothing would have been an irresponsible and reckless choice.

“Today’s action will reduce school costs, ensure more dollars go into the classroom to teach our children and make sure the system is there for the thousands of school employees currently relying on it and those counting on it to be there when they retire.”

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Sen. Booher announces additional August office hours

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, announced today he will conduct office hours in Roscommon and Clare counties on Thursday, Aug. 9. Rep. Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City, will join him in Roscommon.

The office hours are open to residents to express their opinions or request assistance with a state issue.

THURSDAY, AUG. 9
12:30 to 2 p.m. (with Rep. Rendon)
Roscommon County Building and Courthouse
500 Lake St.
Roscommon, MI

3 to 4:30 p.m.
Clare Area Chamber of Commerce Building
429 North McEwan
Clare, MI

For more information, please contact Booher’s office toll-free at 1-866-305-2135 or via email at sendbooher@senate.michigan.gov. Residents unable to attend office hours may also write Booher at: Senator Darwin Booher; P.O. Box 30036; Lansing, MI 48909.

Rendon may be contacted toll-free at 1-888-347-8103 or by email at: BruceRendon@house.mi.gov. Residents may also write Rendon at: S-1387 House Office Building; P.O. Box 30014; Lansing, MI 48933.

Booher represents the 35th Senate District, which includes Benzie, Clare, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mecosta, Missaukee, Osceola, Roscommon, and Wexford counties.

Rendon represents the 103rd House District, which includes Iosco, Missaukee, Ogemaw and Roscommon counties.