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For Immediate Release:
September 17, 2009

Contact: Andrea Messinger
Office: (517) 908-0302
Cell: (517) 230-8379

Governor, House Members Must Reject Budget Bills with Drastic Revenue Sharing Cuts

Governor, House Must Take Bold Stand to Protect Public Safety

LANSING, Mich. – Local government officials across Michigan today urged the state House and the Governor to reject a state budget that cuts revenue sharing at the Senate levels -- cuts that will cause more police and fire layoffs, push some communities into bankruptcy and further weaken local roads, bridges, water and sewer systems and other essential local services.

 “The House must reject a budget with drastic revenue sharing cuts, as they have been saying they would do,” said Robin Beltramini, a Troy Councilwoman and Michigan Municipal League Board President. “If the Legislature passes more cuts that threaten the public safety and health of the millions of people who live and work in Michigan communities, the Governor must take the bold and courageous action of vetoing those cuts.

“A veto of more revenue sharing cuts would be a decisive move to protect public safety and infrastructure systems that are already at the breaking point because of massive revenue sharing cuts over the past decade.”

Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero said cuts of this magnitude are unacceptable and will cripple local governments.

“Cutting the funds that local governments rely on to support public safety is an unconscionable failure of leadership on the part of our lawmakers.   Instead of making the tough decisions necessary to get Michigan's financial house in order, they are simply passing the buck to cities, counties and townships across the state,” said Bernero. “The state budget crisis didn't just appear out of nowhere; it is a problem they have ignored and papered over with quick fixes for far too long."

Mt. Morris Mayor Robert Slattery urged the Governor “to be bold and protect public safety” if the Legislature passes a state budget with more deep revenue sharing cuts.

“The Governor has an opportunity to define her legacy by vetoing a state budget that metaphorically is balanced on the backs of public safety, clean drinking water, and the state’s already crumbling roads and bridges,” Slattery said.

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After slashing revenue sharing by about $3 billion in the past eight years, state lawmakers are now considering another $163 million in revenue sharing cuts from the Governor’s recommendation for the Fiscal Year 2009-2010 state budget. Revenue sharing funds essential local services, including police and fire protection, safe drinking water, sewer systems, road and bridge maintenance, and more.

Mayor Jacqueline Noonan of Utica said that mayors, council members and other local officials have publicly supported new revenues and reducing tax loopholes to ensure the safety of the public.  Enacting these drastic cuts now would slow Michigan’s economic recovery.

 “Passage of these cuts throws up the white flag and says ‘’we give up,” said Noonan.  “It is time for the House members to reject any deal made by the Speaker and Senate Majority Leader with these drastic cuts. The Governor must also publicly commit to veto a budget with the cuts.”

More than $3 billion in revenue sharing cuts over the past eight years have already caused the layoffs of more than 2,400 firefighters and 2,000 police officers across the state. A state budget with the cuts proposed by the Senate and the Speaker could double the number of police and fire layoffs.

Holland Mayor Al McGeehan said all state lawmakers who vote to cut revenue sharing will eventually answer to their constituents when a public health and safety emergency can’t be handled because of the massive funding reductions.

“If the Legislature chooses to lay off more police officers and firefighters, one day an event will threaten public safety and public health and we at the local levels will not have the resources to respond,” said McGeehan. “These revenue sharing cuts create a public health and safety ticking time bomb all across Michigan.  Michigan lawmakers must understand that Michigan will only be as strong as its individual cities and villages.”

Wyoming Mayor Carol Sheets said it is time for the Governor to keep her pledge to veto any cuts that threaten public safety and public welfare.

“Now is the Governor’s opportunity to keep her pledge and to stop the madness of revenue sharing cuts that would threaten public safety all across Michigan and push some local governments to the brink of insolvency,” Sheets said. “It’s time for the Governor to veto these cuts and to stand up for every family and business that needs a cop or firefighter to show up if they are being robbed or their home is on fire.”

The Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. For more information, visit www.mml.org.

 

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