Grand Rapids Chamber Takes Positions on Two Ballot Questions
Through our member-led process, the Chamber Board of Directors has taken positions on two ballot questions. The Board is supporting the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNTRF) Constitutional Amendment (MI-1) to grow the annual grant amounts and allow the fund to invest a greater percentage on improving parks and outdoor recreation, and opposing the Grand Rapids Proposal 1 requiring all local elections to be held in even years.
Chamber member volunteers engaged and voted on the drafting of these positions through our Committee/Council process. These positions are consistent with our mission to promote a thriving and prosperous West Michigan for all.
Position: YES on MI Proposal 1
The MNRTF provides grants for projects that provide for natural resource protection and outdoor recreation.
Constitutional amendments require a vote of the people. The Michigan Legislature in a 2018 bipartisan, supermajority vote placed this item on the November ballot. Currently, the law caps the amount the MNRTF can spend on improving existing parks at 25%, and the remainder of the funding is allocated for land acquisition.
The proposed change will grow the annual grant amounts and allow the fund to spend a greater percentage on improving parks versus spending a majority on constantly acquiring new land.
The proposal would amend the Michigan Constitution to make some changes to how the MNRTF and the State Parks Endowment Fund (SPEF) can be spent:
A minimum of 25% would be required to be spent on developing, renovating or redeveloping recreational facilities each year
A minimum of 25% would be required to be spent on acquiring land each year
The State Parks Endowment Fund is currently limited to the acquisition and land and capital improvements. The changes would allow the fund to provide for operations and maintenance with at least 20% dedicated to capital improvements.
The $500 million cap in principal would be removed from the NRTF and it could accrue funds again after the SPEF reaches $800 million in principal.
Protecting our natural resources and investing in outdoor recreation will support economic growth, talent attraction, tourism and quality of life.
Position: NO on Grand Rapids Proposal 1
Proposal 1 would change the non-partisan elections portion of the City of Grand Rapids Charter to require all local elections to be held in even years alongside national elections.
Local issues matter. They deserve attention and critical thought. We have significant concerns that this proposal will derail the transparency and focus on issues that have been a staple of Grand Rapids elections.
The reason almost all states have a standard of odd-year elections, and most cities in Michigan follow this, is so important local issues stand out. A move to even elections years will heavily inject partisan influence and politics into our independent elections. Candidates now must share their values and positions on specific matters with the voters to earn their vote and are far less subject to the swings of nationalized politics.
Elections in even-year cycles are also much more costly. This will make it more difficult for candidates to connect with voters, and can be a deterrent to those who may be considering public service.
We are joining community leaders, including Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, former Mayor George Heartwell, Commissioner Jon O’Connor, Commissioner Senita Lenear, former Commissioner Ruth Kelly, County Commissioner Robert S. Womack, Michigan Board of Education member Lupe Ramos-Montigny, and many more, in opposition to this charter change.
Keep Grand Rapids on the right track and keep our elections local.