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October 2002A Mackinac Center ReportThe Clean Michigan Initiative: An AssessmentDiane KatzAn Examination of the Goals, Results and Fiscal Consequences of Michigan’s Most Ambitious Environmental Bond ProgramThe Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan research and educa-tional institute devoted to improving the quality of life for all Michigan citizens by promoting sound solutions to state and local policy questions. The Mackinac Center assists policy makers, scholars, business people, the media, and the public by providing objective analysis of Michigan issues. The goal of all Center reports, commentaries, and educational programs is to equip Michigan citizens and other decision makers to better evaluate policy options. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is broadening the debate on issues that have for many years been dominated by the belief that government intervention should be the standard solution. Center publications and programs, in contrast, offer an integrated and comprehensive approach that considers:All Institutions. The Center examines the important role of voluntary associations, business, community and family, as well as government.All People. Mackinac Center research recognizes the diversity of Michigan citizens and treats them as individuals with unique backgrounds, circumstances, and goals.All Disciplines. Center research incorporates the best understanding of economics, science, law, psychology, history, and ...
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October 2002
A Mackinac Center Report The Clean Michigan Initiative: An Assessment
Diane Katz
An Examination of the Goals, Results and Fiscal Consequences of Michigan s Most Ambitious Environmental Bond Program
TheMackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan research and educa-tional institute devoted to improving the quality of life for all Michigan citizens by promoting sound solutions to state and local policy questions. The Mackinac Center assists policy makers, scholars, business people, the media, and the public by providing objective analysis of Michigan issues.  The goal of all Center reports, commentaries, and educational programs is to equip Michigan citizens and other decision makers to better evaluate policy options. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is broadening the debate on issues that have for many years been dominated by the belief that government intervention should be the standard solution. Center publications and programs, in contrast, offer an integrated and comprehensive approach that considers:
All Institutions.Center examines the important role of voluntary  The associations, business, community and family, as well as government.
All People.Mackinac Center research recognizes the diversity of Michigan citizens and treats them as individuals with unique backgrounds, circumstances, and goals.
All Disciplines.inndtars ofg b eht seednu tseearch incorporat eCtnrer se economics, science, law, psychology, history, and morality, moving beyond mechanical cost/benefit analysis.
All Times. Center research evaluates long-term consequences, not simply short-term impact.
Committed to its independence, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy neither seeks nor accepts any government funding. It enjoys the support of foundations, individuals, and businesses who share a concern for Michiganʼs future and recognize the important role of sound ideas. The Center is a nonprofit, tax-exempt institute under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. For more information on programs and publications of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, please contact:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy 140 West Main Street P.O. Box 568 Midland, Michigan 48640 (989) 631-0900 • Fax (989) 631-0964 www.mackinac.org • mcpp@mackinac.org
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The Clean Michigan Initiative: An Assessment
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy 
The Clean Michigan Initiative: An Assessment  by Diane Katz    
Table of Contents Executive Summary ............................................................................ 1 Introduction ......................................................................................... 5 Origin of the Clean Michigan Initiative............................................. 6 CMI Funding Structure ...................................................................... 7 CMI Policy Principles ........................................................................11 CMI Evaluation ................................................................................. 12 Bond Costs ......................................................................................... 12 Brownfield Cleanup and Redevelopment ........................................ 15 Waterfront Redevelopment .............................................................. 17 Recreation .......................................................................................... 19 State Parks ......................................................................................... 20 Clean Water Fund ............................................................................. 21 Nonpoint Source Pollution Control.................................................. 22 Sediment Cleanup ............................................................................. 22 Pollution Prevention.......................................................................... 23 Household Hazardous Waste Collection.......................................... 23 Environmental Education................................................................. 24 Lead .................................................................................................... 24 October 2002  
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Conclusions......................................................................................... 24 Recommendations .............................................................................. 25 Notes.................................................................................................... 27 Appendix A ......................................................................................... 29 Appendix B ......................................................................................... 30 Appendix C......................................................................................... 31 Appendix D......................................................................................... 32 About the Author ............................................................................... 32  
 
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The Clean Michigan Initiative: An Assessment  by Diane Katz  
 Executive Summary Building on decades of generous environmental spending, Michigan voters in 1998 authorized the state to borrow $675 million for the Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI). Whether this most ambitious of all Michigan environmental bond programs is actually maximizing environmental quality is a legitimate — and vital — policy question. Until now there has been little measurement of the program’s efficiency or effectiveness. The Clean Michigan Initiative Act requires a performance review every two years, but the auditor general has declined to conduct one.1Nor have the state agencies that administer the initiative evaluated the success or failure of its various components. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy decided to examine how CMI funds have been spent, and to ascertain what has been achieved. Ultimately, the goal of this study is to enhance environmental quality for all Michigan citizens by assessing whether this environmental bond program constitutes efficient and effective policy and practice. This study takes on added importance in this election season. Michigan voters will be asked on the November ballot to approve another major environment-related bond measure. This time the Legislature is seeking $1 billion, which would be used to upgrade sewer infrastructure. A well-reasoned vote will depend, in part, on knowing how well the state has managed other bond funds as well as understanding the consequences of Lansing’s increased reliance on borrowing to finance environmental programs. The following questions formed the basis of our examination of the Clean Michigan Initiative: What are the fiscal consequences of selling bonds to finance the initiative? Is the distribution of funds based on environmental priorities? Are CMI objectives realistic? Have the funds allocated to date achieved CMI goals? On the issue of fiscal consequences, our findings indicate that the sale of bonds to finance the Clean Michigan Initiative dramatically — and unnecessarily — inflates program costs.
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The goal of this study is to enhance environmental quality for all Michigan citizens
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The sale of general obligation bonds increases by 60 percent the total cost of the initiative. To date, three CMI bond series have been issued, raising $153,620,000. But in addition to repaying this $153 million in principal, taxpayers also owe bondholders an additional$91,234,136 in interest. Legal and other administrative services related to the three bond issues cost an additional $346,000. Thus, taxpayers will repay about $1.60 for every dollar spent on CMI projects. This debt service is troubling considering that Michigan’s per-capita debt relative to Michigan’sother states has worsened in recent years.236th nationally in state debt per- The state ranked per-capita debtcapita in both 1980 and 1990, but had jumped to 24th by 1997. (See Appendix A.) This debt relative to otherload also has outpaced inflation. Between 1978 and 1998, inflation increased 115.8 percent, states hasFaleren Galottihelweedt db osu baltsed tiruepdn dxet.en2 0.rcpeesae55 d tbercni3991 aAnnd  2001.en 1etweeneit ofog  dht ear4ral obligation bond debt to worsened in un recent yearsSuch debt might be justified if the borrowed funds had been spent to counteract significant environmental threats. But our findings indicate that the CMI funding formula does not adequately distinguish among environmental priorities. A substantial portion of the money is reserved for commercial, recreational and aesthetic improvements that will yield relatively minor environmental benefits. For example: $48 million in CMI-funded recreation grants have been awarded to 214 various units of local government for swimming pools, roller rinks, tennis courts, ice arenas, and even renovation of a dairy barn and construction of a fish-cleaning station. funding has been appropriated for 43 waterfront development$47 million in CMI projects, including $6.2 million for a cement “promenade” along the Detroit River and $85,000 to construct a parking lot in Mt. Pleasant. been allocated for state park renovations. Yet$50 million in CMI funds have only eight years ago, voters approved an endowment fund for parks’ maintenance, the balance of which currently exceeds $96 million. The largest portion of CMI funds — a minimum of $263 million — is reserved for decontaminating abandoned industrial sites, known as “brownfields.” The goal of these cleanups is to curb suburban “sprawl” by increasing the availability of unsoiled and unencumbered urban properties. State planners hope that once investment is redirected, cities will be revitalized, bringing a halt to further development of farmlands and forestlands. Our research indicates that this expectation is unrealistic. Ground contamination is only one of myriad factors that dissuade urban redevelopment. Investors are also drawn to suburban development for many reasons other than the availability of uncontaminated property. Moreover, our examination found little evidence that brownfield cleanups funded under the Clean Michigan Initiative are attracting private investment to urban areas. Of the six completed brownfield cleanup projects initiated in 1999 and rated as having “excellent” redevelopment potential, none has been sold or transferred by
 
October 2002 
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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy 
a municipality to a private investor. No redevelopment has occurred on any of the parcels. Information also was collected on 10 other brownfield cleanup projects initiated in 1999 and rated as having “excellent” prospects for redevelopment, but which the state has not yet listed as complete. The sale of one parcel reportedly is pending, but none of the other nine sites has attracted private investment. The Michigan  g inav hasd tera stcejorp punaelld cnfiebrow999 eh1 fot vl eTewelpm .et enOetis cresionredecod emtnp toneitlaa good” redevelopil cp bu ser nowas aves Department of parking lot, and a second site is privately owned. No private investment orEnvironmental redevelopment has occurred on the remaining 10 parcels.Quality essentially More progress might have been achieved had the state evaluated prospects forguessed that tens brownfield redevelopment before funding decisions were made. Instead, the Michiganof millions of Department of Environmental Quality essentially guessed that tens of millions of dollarsdollars invested in invested in specific brownfield cleanups would spur private investment and job creation.specific The initiative does reserve $90 million for water quality programs, including grantsbrownfield tmotoanliitnogr in$g4  ofm islulirfoanc et ow a3t3e r lqoucaalli tyu. niTtsh esoef  pgroovgerranmms,e nwt hialne d sonmoenpwrhoafti t dugrpoliucpasti vteo  ef xoptahnedr cleanups would state and federal efforts, are more defensible than subsidizing a skateboard platoform in  spur private Huntington Woods or bathrooms for Clinton Township’s Historic Village.investment and job creation. Analyzing water and sediment chemistry, plant growth and the condition of fish are necessary both to protect public health and to guide resource management decisions. However, the CMI does not directly address other pressing water quality issues such as sewerage overflows, eradication of aquatic “nuisance species” such as zebra mussels or the 14 “areas of concern” designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the worst Great Lakes contamination. Smaller CMI appropriations have been designated for pollution prevention, sediment cleanup and lead abatement. These may return some marginal benefits, but at substantial cost. In summary, the debt service on CMI bonds inflates program costs, and far more CMI funds are being spent on questionable economic development, recreation and beautification projects rather than upon tangible environmental improvements. Well-intentioned though they may be, CMI goals are largely unrealistic and unlikely to produce the desired results.
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The Clean Michigan Initiative: An Assessment The Mackinac Center for Public Policy I. Introduction Environmental quality ranks highly among Michigan’s core values. Citizens prize the recreational opportunities available throughout the Great Lakes and depend upon the state’s unique geography and abundant resources for their livelihoods. Understandably, then, taxpayers have generously approved major spending increases for environmental programs through bond sales and endowment funds that supplement Taxpayers have already sizable budget appropriations made annually by the Legislature to the Departments of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources, Community Health and Agriculture each year. generously approved major Table 1 – State Expenditures for Environment-related Programs spending increases for 1994-1995 1996-1997 1998-1999 2000-2001 environmental CEonnvisreornvamtieonnt,,  $639,4 25,000 $440,6 56,000 $482,9 01,000 $617,7 03,000 programs Recreation and Agriculture  Source: State of Michigan Comprehensive Annual Financial Report In 1984, for example, voters approved an amendment to the Michigan Constitution dedicating royalties from the sale of state-owned mineral rights to a new Natural Resources Trust Fund, with which to acquire forestland and shoreline for recreation and conservation. In 1988, approval likewise was granted for the $660 million Environmental Protection Bond Fund, to finance the cleanup of contaminated property, improve water quality and upgrade sewer systems. Six years later, voters authorized the deposit of $10 million annually into a State Parks Endowment Fund to bankroll park operations, maintenance and capital improvements. Most recently, in 1998, voters approved the Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI), which permitted the state to issue $675 million in general obligation bonds for environmental cleanup and natural resource protection. At the time, the state already owed $874 million in general obligation bond debt.5 These initiatives have made Michigan a national leader in state environmental investment, and have greatly expanded government management of natural resources. This repeated success of ballot proposals suggests that taxpayers regard their continued investment as warranted and beneficial. But whether bond programs have actually maximized environmental quality is a legitimate — and vital — policy question. Despite these significant public expenditures, there has been little measurement of program efficiency or effectiveness. The Clean Michigan Initiative Act requires the auditor general to conduct a performance review every two years. Yet none has been conducted because, according to a department spokesman, the $389 million appropriated to date is too inconsequential an amount to justify the cost of an audit.6 have the four state agencies Nor that administer CMI programs evaluated their success or failure. October 2002 5
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A well-reasoned vote will depend, in part, on knowing how well the state has managed other bond funds.
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Without such an assessment, neither voters nor lawmakers have any rational basis upon which to judge whether the state’s stewardship efforts are working; no way to tell whether Michigan’s most pressing environmental problems are being resolved. This is why the Mackinac Center for Public Policy decided to examine how CMI funds have been spent, and to assess what has been achieved. The goal of this endeavor is to enhance environmental quality for all Michigan citizens by identifying what does — and does not — constitute sound environmental policy and practice. The following criteria formed the basis of our examination: What are the fiscal consequences of selling bonds to finance the initiative? Is the distribution of funds based on environmental priorities? Are CMI objectives realistic? Have the funds allocated to date achieved CMI goals? A study of how taxpayers’ money is being spent takes on added importance in this election season. Michigan voters will be asked on the November ballot to approve another major environment-related bond measure. This time the Legislature is seeking $1 billion with which to upgrade sewer infrastructure. A well-reasoned vote will depend, in part, on knowing how well the state has managed other bond funds, as well as understanding the consequences of Lansing’s increased reliance on borrowing to finance environmental programs. This study is based on a careful reading of all relevant statutes and regulations, as well as inspection of hundreds of documents relating to CMI administration and expenditures. Officials of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) cooperated in providing staff expertise and agency records. More than a dozen interviews with environmental and budgetary experts were conducted. A chronicle of how the Clean Michigan Initiative was created is presented in Section II. Section III details how CMI bonds are sold and the overall funding formula of the initiative. Section IV describes the goals of the initiative and the theoretical framework upon which those goals are based. Section V discloses how CMI funds were appropriated for the years 1999-2001, as reported by the state, and measures the results against stated objectives. Section VI summarizes our conclusions regarding whether the Clean Michigan Initiative is delivering the results promised, and offers recommendations for improvement. II. Origin of the Clean Michigan Initiative The Clean Michigan Initiative was conceived during the administration of Gov. John Engler, and was approved by both the Legislature and voters as required by state law. The Michigan Constitution requires the approval of two-thirds of the Legislature and a majority of voters before general obligation bonds may be issued. Lawmakers authorized the CMI ballot measure on July 27, 1998, and designated the bond proceeds for “environmental and natural resources protection programs that would clean up and redevelop contaminated sites, protect and improve water quality, prevent pollution, abate lead
 
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