The lower water levels in the Great Lakes are taking a bite out of the state's pocketbook.
Today, the Legislature sent a budget bill to Gov. Snyder that includes $20.9 million in funding for dredging harbors and marinas suffering from low water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan.
Update 2:00 p.m.
Here's more on the $20.9 million approved for harbor dredging.
MLive's Tim Martin has a list of the 49 harbors and marinas to be dredged with the funds.
The bill had bi-partisan support, but State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) voted against a bill to fund dredging of public harbors and marinas with money from the state's Waterways Fund.
"The Waterways Fund pays for things like maintaining our public marinas so that the public can have access to clean restrooms and great park locations at public marinas around the state - and they depleted that to do dredging. And to me, I just think it’s the wrong priority,” said Warren.
Supporters said it's more important to provide access to the harbors and marinas now. They say they plan to put money back into the Waterways Fund later on.
State Senator Geoff Hansen (R-Hart) said passage of the legislation today (before legislators take a two week spring break) will allow dredging to start in time for the summer boating season.
“With this emergency situation, we needed the money now. We didn’t need to wait, because it won’t do any good once we get into July and August to try and do the dredging then. We needed to put the money up front, get the bids out, get the work done,” said Hansen.
Gov. Snyder is expected to sign the bill quickly to free up the money for dredging contracts.
The state Senate has sent Governor Rick Snyder a budget bill that includes almost $21 million to dredge Great Lakes harbors suffering from record low water levels.
We'll have more soon.
*An earlier headline read "$21 million for Great Lakes harbor dredging." $20.9 million was approved. We changed the headline.