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Whitmer: Allot $150M In Federal Rescue Funds For Local Parks

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday called for allotting $150 million in federal coronavirus rescue funds for Michigan's local parks and trails, the second time she has proposed major recreation spending in less than a month.

The proposal, if approved by state lawmakers, would authorize the state to disburse grants to applicants. The governor said the spending on parks and recreation would boost tourism, particularly aiding seasonal and rural economies, and help sectors disproportionately hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Right now, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a transformative investment in our outdoor spaces, and we ought to take it," she said during a news conference at Connor Bayou Park in Grand Haven.

The money could be used to make parks more accessible and to build playgrounds, basketball courts, pavilions, and boardwalks, Whitmer said. It also could improve regional trail systems, including in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ottawa County, and St. Clair County.

The Democratic governor last month proposed allocating $250 million of $6.5 billion in discretionary federal COVID-19 funding to state parks. She also has called for using the aid to expand a tuition-free program to attend community college to 22,000 additional frontline workers, to give grants to businesses to temporarily pay at least $15 an hour, and to provide "hero pay" bonuses to frontline workers.

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