Senate bills would overhaul Natural Resources Trust fund use

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A proposed Michigan constitutional amendment to overhaul usage of the Natural Resources Trust Fund has passed the Republican-controlled Senate on a party-line vote.

State lawmakers voted 26-11 Wednesday for a three-bill package to steer some funding toward grants for public recreation projects.

Local governments would have to match them by at least 25 percent. Fifty-five percent of total funds would go toward state parks upkeep and 15 percent to local projects.

The decades-old fund consists of royalties from oil and gas companies using state-owned minerals rights. It's controlled by a board created under the state constitution.

Supporters say the board isn't spending enough. State Attorney General Bill Schuette ruled lawmakers are not authorized to go over the board, leading them to pursue the constitutional amendment now heading to the House.

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