The League’s Samantha Harkins.
LANSING, Michigan – This morning (Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013) the House Appropriations Subcommittee for General Government held testimony on the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP). The League testified with concerns about the Governor’s failure to recommend an increase in EVIP as well as concerns regarding the administration of the program itself.
We informed the committee that in the last decade the legislature has failed to invest in cities by diverting over four billion dollars in revenue sharing to other state general fund programs. This, combined with property tax declines, has resulted in the fiscal uncertainty faced by many of our communities. We’ve lost thousands of public safety officers since September of 2001, and 46 percent of Michigan’s college graduates are leaving the state in search of place (and looking for jobs as a secondary factor). And it appears Michigan residents are feeling the cuts: A Detroit Free Press reports that a new survey shows that Michigan residents feel the services they rely on–roads, parks, education, local police and fire protection–are in “worse” or “far worse” shape than they were 10-15 years ago.
We encouraged the committee to increase the amount of funding for EVIP, particularly as the administration has recommended increases for many other programs.
In addition we addressed specific concerns with the EVIP criteria. While philosophically we agree that government at all levels should be cost effective and efficient, the program itself has been inconsistent, challenging, and stifles local creativity. We suggested specific changes to the program that would allow our members to be creative while still demonstrating cost effectiveness.
Later in the afternoon we met with the Governor’s staff to follow up on our concerns about not increasing funding for EVIP and encouraged the administration to increase money for the program. We also echoed the challenges we’ve heard from our membership and will continue to recommend changes to the program.
Please contact your legislators and ask them to increase funding for EVIP and to give us an accountability program that increases efficiencies while not implementing a single approach for our different communities.
Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League. She can be reached at 517-908-0306 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.