New Developments in the GOP Assault on Michigan

cornucopiaDemocracy Tree has a veritable cornucopia of Michigan fiscal crisis related news to share today. Where do we start — good news, bad news, in-between news?

Let’s start with Sen. Tom Casperson, who has never failed to disappoint with his multitude of retrograde environmental policies, and of course most recently, his wolf hunt law. Casperson is currently working on drafting a revenue sharing bill. It is unknown if it will address the inequities and the growing problem with unfunded mandates faced by Michigan’s local units of government. We can only hope it does. 

A major newspaper in his district, The Mining Journal, reports that the Marquette County Board is prepared to take point on the issue of the ever increasing parade of unconstitutional unfunded mandates enacted by the legislature. The board is prepared to draft a resolution with “teeth”, containing “ultimatums” for lawmakers on their obligations regarding revenue sharing for counties. They acknowledge that the primary roadblock to solving this intractable problem is that all 83 counties are not willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the issue to demand change (much like school districts with their funding inequities), so they understand they may indeed stand alone.

Their resolution boldly states the following:

“Revenue sharing is used by counties to pay for the multitude of state-mandated services, including the courts, the jails, the constitutional officers, elections and the public health system…Coupled with the recent reductions in property values and increased mandated state service delivery, counties are stretched to the financial limit…Revenue sharing is more than just a pot of money to be allocated in whole or in part to counties; it is a statutory promise made to counties in exchange for giving up local taxing authority and for a more recent change in local taxing administration.”

In the meantime, what are the rich folks up to?

Gov. Snyder’s policies now grant them more than “local taxing authority” to band-aid their fiscal woes. Under a new law enacted late last year, Michigan municipalities with an AA or AAA bond rating may direct-sell bonds without voter or state approval, on the condition that they have closed their pension plans to new participants. Bloomfield Township is the first to take advantage of this new seemingly endless cash cow to comfortably payoff their legacy costs. Their board voted unanimously to allow for up to $85 million in bond sales to pay for existing pension plans over the next twenty years. Another debt party for the rich — sound familiar?

And, saving the best for last folks…(this time it really is the best)

Michigan Senator Coleman Young (D), bravely stood alone in introducing Senate Joint Resolution X today. By definition, a joint resolution, technically speaking is: A document used to propose an amendment to the Michigan Constitution which requires a two-thirds majority in each house to pass. Joint resolutions are not considered by the Governor.

Sen. Young’s resolution is clearly a response to the blatant legislative insult Public Act 436 was to the Michigan electorate in the face of their repeal, by popular referendum vote, of Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager law. His resolution would amend section 9, article II of the Michigan Constitution, with the following:

” If a law is rejected by the people under the referendum provision of this section, the legislature shall not pass a same or similar law without approval of two thirds of the members elected to and serving in each house of the legislature.”

A beautiful thought….It doesn’t stand a chance.

Amy Kerr Hardin


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