Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Association of Counties, State Budget Office Call for Additional Resources to Support Essential Services

Posted on August 13, 2020 by Dene Westbrook

The Michigan Municipal League has joined with state leaders and the county association in calling for additional resources to support essential services during this COVID-19 crisis.

The League, the Michigan State Budget Office, and the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), today sent this joint letter to President Trump and the Michigan congressional delegation. The letter asks for financial assistance for the state and local communities as they strive to maintain service levels residents expect while also responding to the coronavirus pandemic. This letter comes after the League’s 19-member board sent a similar letter earlier this month and is part of our ongoing effort to fight for Michigan’s communities in cooperation with the National League of Cities’ “Cities are Essential” campaign.

Here’s the text of today’s joint letter with the State Budget Office and MAC:

The State and local governments across Michigan are doing everything possible to maintain crucial public services through an unprecedented downturn in revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government played a critical role in helping with cost recovery for COVID-related expenses for the current fiscal year, which helped us maintain basic operations, but those federal funds were restricted, did not address revenue shortfalls for an already broken municipal finance system and are now almost fully allocated.

Recent arguments in Washington, D.C., have asserted that additional state and local aid is not needed given the revenue provided through the CARES Act. Nothing could be further from the truth. The upcoming state revenue estimating conference is expected to reveal that the Michigan’s fiscal year 2021 is slated to begin Oct. 1, 2020 with a projected $3.1 billion shortfall at the State level, and countless more millions that local governments will be short.

Now is not the time to make cuts to public health, public safety, education, or social services and additional federal funding is needed. Michigan residents and businesses need our support and services now more than ever. Without additional direct funding support and flexibility from the federal government to state and local governments, we will have to lay off workers and make dramatic budget cuts, making the state and national recovery even harder to achieve. The State of Michigan along with our counties and cities are calling on the president and legislative leadership in Washington, D.C., for help. Without it, the impacts to residents and businesses across Michigan will be severe.

We want our national leaders to know that Michigan’s economy is hurting, and we need their help to make it strong again,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director for the Michigan Municipal League. “Without this assistance the economic downturn Michigan now faces will linger even longer. For our local governments, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing our tax revenues to dry up, as local employers and employees struggle with the challenges of re-opening, re-engineering their businesses to operate in accordance with health and safety guidelines, and trying to retain their customer base. Our residents and businesses are seeking more services than ever before, and we need federal help to make this happen.

“Michigan’s 83 counties are critical to delivering public health and public safety services to 10 million people. The pandemic has weakened an already dysfunctional financing system for local governments in our state,” said Stephan W. Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “Without additional federal aid, services will be reduced — something no one in Lansing or Washington wants.”

“We have yet to see anything out of Washington D.C. that provides states with any solutions for solving the massive revenue shortfalls we are facing in Fiscal Year 2021,” said State Budget Director Chris Kolb. “Cuts to education, public safety, and health care services are not a solution, but without additional federal funding, that is the direction we are headed. We continue to review every dollar in the budget, but there is simply no way to avoid reducing essential services without additional federal aid.”

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