Local officials want state to pay for wildfires

By JUSTINE McGUIRE
Capital News Service
LANSING — Good neighbors pay to put out their fires. That’s why Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, says he introduced a bill that would allow the state to compensate localities for fighting fires on state-owned land through the already-established Forest Development Fund. “This is state land and the state needs to be taking care of it,” he said. “It’s to the point where the state is a terrible neighbor.”

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does have fire crews and says on its website that it has the overall responsibility for wildfires. It also receives help from the U.S. Forest Service and local fire departments.

Universities innovate, cut costs as state aid drops

By JUSTINE McGUIRE
Capital News Service
LANSING – Public universities in north and west Michigan are trying to become smarter with their money as state appropriations continue to decline and other revenue sources fail to pick up the slack. Money-saving efforts range from reducing energy use at Grand Valley State University to smarter energy purchasing at Northern Michigan University and Ferris State University to paperless offices at Northern and controlling administrative costs at Grand Valley. All revenue sources, including state appropriations, federal spending on research and student aid, endowments and philanthropy are declining. Tuition revenue isalso down at some universities, higher tuition rates have not been able to make up for lower enrollment, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, according to a recent report from Moody Investors Service. Public university officials agreed that shrinking state funding is their biggest revenue problem.

Museums tighten belts, hope for more funds

By WEI YU
Capital News Service
LANSING – Arts and cultural venues in the state generated more than $2 billion in 2010 in tourism spending – more than golf, winter skiing, boating, sailing, hunting, fishing and viewing sporting events combined, a new Creative State Michigan report shows. However, the recession has hit Michigan museums hard. The Detroit Science Center closed due to financial hardship last year, for example, and the majority of Michigan museums have curtailed their opening hours. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Snyder included $6.15 million in his 2013 budget proposal for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs — a $3.6 million increase in state funding and the largest recommended increase since 2002. “If it is approved by the Legislature, our applicants such as nonprofit arts and cultural organizations will be eligible to receive more grants, awards and other funding from us,” said John Bracey, executive director of the council.