Durand Mayor Deb Doyle, Linden Mayor David Lossing and East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett lay out the League’s legislative priorities during a media roundtable event March 18, 2013 in Lansing. (View the full press release here. View more photos here.)
LANSING, Michigan – The Michigan Municipal League and local leaders held a press conference today calling for action from the state on issues crucial to the future prosperity of Michigan’s cities, villages and urban townships. Topping the list are transportation funding, critical problems with the recently passed personal property tax legisation, and the ongoing pattern of revenue sharing cuts that continue to gut local coffers and make it increasingly difficult to provide the local services that Michigan citizens expect in their communities. Read the press release.
Michigan Municipal League President David Lossing, mayor of Linden, led the media roundtable event Monday at the League’s Lansing office. Also speaking were East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett, a member of the League board; Durand Mayor Deb Doyle, past president of the League; Samantha Harkins, director of State Affairs, and League CEO Daniel Gilmartin.
About 10 media outlets attended, including reporters from the Associated Press, mlive.com, Detroit News, Michigan Public Radio, TV 6 and TV 10; MIRS and Gongwer news services; and Lansing City Pulse. In addition, the Lansing State Journal wrote an editorial related to this issue, and WKAR public radio show, Current State with Mark Bashore, interviewed Lossing and Gilmartin Monday morning. You can listen to that here.
“While the problems facing Michigan’s communities is the result of many factors, it is still a fact that the state government, legislatures and governors alike, have cut revenue sharing for local municipalities by more than $4.2 billion over the past dozen years,” Lossing stated in a press release distributed at the event. “It is a fact that the state government has taken those funds and used them to solve problems in the state budget or to pay for state programs and policies. And it is a fact that those cuts have contributed to thousands of local police officers and firefighters losing their jobs, reductions in road and bridge repairs, massive cuts to local parks and libraries, and much more. Michigan cities have been largely pushed aside by our state government for far too long, and anything short of an increase in statutory revenue sharing is not good enough.”
Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed no funding increases for statutory revenue sharing in his 2014 state budget, despite the massive cuts made to revenue sharing funding over the past decade.
In addition, legislation passed in December – on the final day of the last state Legislature session – would cut another stable source of local funding for local communities — the business personal property tax (PPT). This legislation would cut local community funding up to 20 percent in many communities, assuming Michigan voters approve a ballot question authorizing the PPT law to take effect. The Legislature still has not voted to put the PPT law on the August 2014 statewide primary ballot.
Daniel Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, said the PPT legislation passed in December created “several outstanding issues” that must be resolved.
“We delivered a letter to the Lieutenant Governor outlining the issues in the PPT bills that must be resolved, and we were told they would be resolved,” Gilmartin said. “It is essential that those issues be fixed, and anything short of that is not good enough. If they are not resolved, replacement funding to local communities would be threatened to the point of potentially causing irreparable and permanent fiscal damage to literally dozens or hundreds of Michigan cities.”
Samantha Harkins, director of state affairs for the League, said Michigan cities are also concerned about the transportation funding proposals being considered by the Governor and Legislature. While the League supports a substantial increase in investments for transportation infrastructure and transit, any proposal that fails to increase funding to specifically address local infrastructure needs will not be good enough.
“Anyone who travels our local roads and state highways knows that Michigan’s transportation system and infrastructure are in deplorable shape and in desperate need of a major reinvestment,” said East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett. “The state must provide a level of funding that adequately addresses local transportation system needs. Inaction is not an option.”
Other officials attending the event were Meridian Township officials Julie Brixie, and Milton Scales; East Lansing Councilmember Kathy Boyle, Caro Councilmember Joseph Greene; Gladwin Mayor Thomas Winarski; Grand Blanc Mayor Susan Soderstrom; Grand Haven Councilmember Robert Monetza; Huntington Woods Mayor Ron Gillham; Ithaca Councilmember L.D. Hollenbeck; and Quincy Village Manager Eric Zuzga.
Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at [email protected] and (734) 669-6317.