Ballot proposals No. 1: emergency manager lawPublished 11:14pm Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Only Proposal 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot tries to repeal a law already on the books.
The other five proposals seek to amend the state constitution, which is why Cass County Republicans support a yes vote on Proposal 1 and no on the rest.
“If ballot proposals pass,” according to Susan Martin, chief of staff for state Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine, “it takes away the legislature’s ability to do anything other than stick with the mandate in the constitution.”
The referendum is on Public Act 4 of 2011, the emergency manager law, which:
• Establishes criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
• Authorizes the governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon the state finding a financial emergency and allows an EM to act in place of local officials.
• Requires EMs to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government and determination of expenditures, services and use of assets until the crisis is resolved.
• Alternatively, authorizes the state-appointed review team to enter into a local government-approved consent decree.
A no vote would repeal P.A. 4. This law would give too much power and oversight to unelected EMs and undercuts authority of local elected officials.
The law could impose substantial costs and expenses on affected local municipalities and school districts to get out of financial distress without providing new revenues.
The law would give EMs wide discretion to invalidate contracts and impede existing collective bargaining agreements.
Yes votes uphold P.A. 4, which ensures the state’s ability to offer early financial intervention and assistance to schools and local governments that are struggling financially before they reach a crisis.
Repealing the law would impede the ability of the state to provide important tools necessary to address immediate financial crises and will put state taxpayers on the hook for these locally incurred bad debts.
Local governments and schools currently being helped by this law could be adversely affected by its repeal, since the EM could be forced to step down, resulting in a reversal of financial stability.
“It makes sense for us to talk about these big initiatives because they would significantly change the direction of Michigan,” Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, said. “P.A. 4 is suspended due to court action. I voted for it as the state senator for Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties. Gov. Granholm declared a financial emergency in Benton Harbor under P.A. 72 and placed an emergency financial manager, Joe Harris.
“If this wasn’t in place, Benton Harbor would still be running budgets that were not balancing, as happened many years previously. We have a consent decree in Detroit and its school district is under an emergency manager. In Berrien County, Three Oaks had this problem. Citizens changed their board and leadership and worked with the emergency manager and were out from underneath in about a year and a half and are on the right track today. Triggers exist, such as payless paydays or creditors 120 days and beyond who bring suit or pension obligations.
“The state, according to the constitution, gives each community or subdivision of local government, authority to exist, so the entire state bears responsibility for debt, which in Detroit was $13.2 billion; Benton Harbor, $8 million, and its schools, $16 million.”
Tags: ballot proposals