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Michigan governor proposes $350 million for Detroit pensions, art-reports

DETROIT (Reuters) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has proposed a $350 million, 20-year plan for the state to protect Detroit retiree pensions and the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, local newspapers reported on Thursday.

Snyder's proposal would use tobacco settlement funds or bonds to finance the outlay to Detroit and would not use cash from the state's general fund, the Detroit News reported.

The governor, a Republican, met with legislators on Wednesday, his spokeswoman, Sara Wurfel said, but she would not comment on details of the meeting.

"It would be inappropriate and premature" to provide details on the talks, Wurfel said in an email.

Snyder's reported plan would match the $330 million that several philanthropic foundations have pledged to defend the DIA and the pensions.

Snyder "takes the foundation commitment seriously," Wurfel said, adding that the governor thought it was important to discuss with the legislature ways the state can assist the city.

Republican legislators have played down the possibility of a direct bailout to Detroit, which is struggling under more than $18 billion in debt and is the largest U.S. city ever to be declared bankrupt.

In an email on Wednesday, Ari Adler, the spokesman for Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger told Reuters, "A direct bailout for the city by the state is not an option Speaker Bolger will consider, but many other options exist that deserve to be explored."

(Reporting by Joseph Lichterman; Editing by David Greising)

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