Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Monday criticized proposed cuts in the U.S. House for Great Lakes funding, saying a Republican plan to reduce spending would harm clean water programs.
"It's very concerning for those of us who love and care about the Great Lakes," Barrett said on the first day of the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Commission, being held in Milwaukee.
Barrett and Baldwin, both Democrats, were joined at a news conference by Racine Mayor John Dickert and David Ullrich, executive director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
Last month, environmental groups and public officials from Great Lakes states criticized a cut by a House subcommittee that would slash funding from $285 million this year to $60 million.
The House Appropriations Committee restored some of the funding in the latest version of the bill, increasing spending to $210 million.
Officials at the news conference said the partial restoration was welcome but didn't go far enough.
"We made some good progress from $60 million up to $210 million, but we still have a ways to go," Ullrich said.
Baldwin said she wants the House to fully fund the program.
Programs that helped protect Racine's beaches paid dividends in the form of $5 million a year in local tourism spending, Dickert said.
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., said in a statement that she and others have told the Appropriations Committee that funding in fiscal 2014 should be at least $300 million.