State emergency fund concept has merit

Gov. Rick Snyder will reportedly propose the creation of an emergency fund that could be used in the case of dire emergencies, such as floods, tornadoes and forest fires.

The Associated Press reports that Snyder will propose that a Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund be established this year. Further, AP states that Snyder will ask that $4 million be set aside for the fund beginning in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Snyder, who is a Republican, wants to earmark another $4 million from the fiscal year that starts one year from Oct. 1.

The emergency fund would allow Michigan to be financially ready to respond in the case of a natural disaster or state emergency, according to Snyder’s proposal. For example, last summer the Duck Lake fire in Luce County burned nearly 33 square miles of land and destroyed 136 homes, cabins and recreational vehicles. Having additional funds on hand to pay for the emergency response crews certainly would have come in handy.

At this juncture, this proposal is fraught with unanswered questions, including but not limited to, who will administer the fund? What criteria will be used to determine if the fund is tapped? How large will individual awards be? Can the funds be used for purposes other than emergencies? Does the state plan to set aside $4 million for the fund each year, going forward?

Before we commit support to the governor’s proposal, we’d like to see those questions, and a host of others, answered. At a glance, though, the plan appears to have merit.