Pritzker joins in decrying Trump cuts to Great Lakes funds
Five governors say proposed 90 percent slash jeopardizes jobs, tourism, public health
By Ted Cox
Gov. Pritzker joined four other Great Lakes governors Wednesday in decrying proposed cuts to a program that protects what amounts to a fifth of the world’s fresh water.
The proposed federal budget submitted by President Trump this week calls for a 90 percent reduction in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The president also called for deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid — programs he previously pledged to leave intact — as well as Social Security and the Environmental Protection Agency, while hiking defense spending 5 percent on the way to a record $4.75 trillion total budget. But it was the cuts in funding for the Great Lakes that earned the governors’ ire Wednesday.
Pritzker joined his gubernatorial colleagues Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania in opposing Trump’s proposed 90 percent cut in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. They issued a joint statement saying: “The Great Lakes hold 21 percent of the world’s fresh water, and they are among the most vital ecological and economic resources in America. Slashing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 90 percent would cost our states thousands of good-paying jobs, hurt our tourism and recreation industries, and jeopardize public health. This is a risk we simply can’t afford to take.
“Cleaning up the Great Lakes shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” they added. “That’s why as Great Lakes governors, we are committed to partnering with our congressional delegations and our fellow governors across the region to protect funding for this critical work. We strongly urge President Trump and Vice President Pence, who is a former Great Lakes governor himself, to do what’s best for America by fully restoring funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.”
That is quite likely. The president’s budget was immediately rejected by congressional leaders, and members of Congress have previously restored cuts to the program in earlier Trump budgets.
As anyone might have already expected, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is an Obama administration program. It coordinates government agencies in addressing issues like safe edible fish and drinking water, preventing harmful algae blooms, and protecting native habitat, and it provides funding to 16 federal organizations. Just this week, it oversaw replacement of electrodes in an electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal designed to keep the invasive species of Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.