Communities Controlling Their Own Costs
PA 312 and Mandatory Binding Arbitration
Source: Detroit Free Press
In Our Opinion: Negotiate Government Reforms
September 19, 2007
neglected part of state budget talks -- overshadowed by the tax
increase debate -- is reform, real change in the structure of
government. Producing one or more substantial reforms in the next few
days is essential to getting the fiscal business in order.
significant reform should give a dozen or so House Republicans the
political cover they need to vote for a tax increase. They would be
able to tell their constituents they made a major breakthrough that
will help ratchet down state spending for years to come, not just the
next 12 months.
they'd be right to be proud of such an accomplishment. Michigan is not
well aligned for the future, as manufacturing jobs dwindle, the
workforce becomes more mobile and instant communications make the
state's ungainly patchwork of governmental units redundant and
sometimes counterproductive. In terms of local governments, the state
is still living in the 1800s; in terms of most labor practices, the
A solid reform effort, if it pulls everyone back from the
brink, could also set a pattern for more action. The deadline for a
budget solution, Sept. 27, doesn't offer enough time to get more than
one or two changes underway. Gov. Jennifer Granholm cited 58 reforms
her office has open for discussion, and there are probably more
possibilities. She has to be open to them.
Up for discussion is
Act 312, which requires binding arbitration to settle contracts for
police and firefighters, who cannot strike. The law needs streamlining
and more flexibility.
It would be a place to start, along with
benefit programs for public employees and consolidation of government
service. Revenue is the immediate need; reform is the long-term