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Issue 1561 November 25, 2012
(Prior Story)   Government ArTicle 7855   (Next Story)

CHANGE IT! Government Funding Reform Goal of Majority of Local Officials

Services to Citizens Are Threatened by Current System, Survey Shows

February 1, 2013       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Gasoline taxes, the sales tax, the Headlee Amendment, Proposal A, state revenue sharing -- all need changing to keep providing adequate services to citizens.

Those are some of the conclusions local leaders have reached as tectonic shifts have occurred recently in Michigan politics.

Local government leaders in Michigan report that the way their jurisdictions are funded requires significant reform to maintain services in the wake of the Great Recession, according to a survey by the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy.

A majority of Michigan's local officials (58 percent) believe there is need for significant reform of the state's system of funding local government.

A new report from the University of Michigan's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) presents the views of Michigan local government leaders on Michigan's current system of funding local government and the need for reform.

In the Spring 2012 MPPS, CLOSUP asked local government officials from 1,329 Michigan jurisdictions (counties, cities, townships, and villages) about their jurisdictions' fiscal health and the current package of services they provide to residents.

Although most local leaders are satisfied with the current package of services their jurisdictions deliver, fewer than half (43 percent) of local leaders believe the system of funding local government in Michigan will allow them to maintain their current package of services in the future, and only 26 percent think the current funding system will allow improvements to current services or provision of new services in their jurisdictions.

In the state's largest jurisdictions -those that have faced the greatest fiscal challenges over the last decade-77 percent of leaders believe the system needs significant reform.

Of the 58 percent who say reform is needed: 89 percent cite the gasoline tax; 83 percent point to the sales tax; 82 percent cite the Headlee Amendment; 81 percent say Proposal A needs reform; and 80 percent say revenue sharing needs reform.

In addition, 64 percent say the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP) needs reform, including 90 percent of leaders in those jurisdictions that are eligible for EVIP funds. Smaller, but still significant percentages believe local income taxes (47 percent) and regional taxation (42 percent) are important targets for reform.

Although more than three-quarters (79 percent) of local officials overall say they are either somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with the current package of services their jurisdictions offer, only 43 percent believe the system of funding local government in Michigan will allow them to maintain their current package of services in the future, even if the economy continues to improve over the coming years. This declines to less than one quarter (22 percent) of leaders among the state's largest jurisdictions.

Only 26 percent of officials believe Michigan's system of funding local governments will provide adequate revenue to allow for improvement of current services or addition of new services in the future.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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