There's growing talk that the shift in political power in Congress, and the ascension to chairpersonships of several veteran Great Lakes region Dems, will accelerate efforts in D.C. to win funding for Great Lakes restoration.
But what will the bar be for success? The five-year plan proposed a year ago by the Great Lakes Regional Collaborative was $20B; bills introduced in the House and Senate the past several sessions have envisioned $4-6 billion in federal funds to match state money.
Perhaps the best measure of success for the next budget year will be whether the newly minted Democratic majority can deliver on the priorities the region's leaders urged upon President Bush last December -- almost none of which ended up in his budget. The pricetag of these initiatives is somewhere around $150-300 million in new funding in the first year.
If you're still watching for ripples from the shift in control of Congress, don't forget to watch the Lake Michigan beaches because you may see some of those ripples washing ashore here.