Michigan Budget Director John Nixon Speaks at the 2013 Michigan Municipal League Capital Conference.

By Samantha Harkins

In the last session of the 2013 Capital Conference the League focused on the critical issue of the state budget and its impact on our own local budgets.  The League’s Vice President and Mayor of Utica Jacqueline Noonan kicked off the final session with good news announcing that the Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee just recommended a 4.8 percent increase to EVIP funding. Mayor Noonan also discussed how our communities have responded to Michigan’s tough economic times.

State Budget Director John Nixon followed Mayor Noonan and discussed how the state has turned its budget around. He focused on the many changes they have made including retirement reforms for state employees, tax changes and ending the “gimmicks” of previous budgets. The state’s economic forecast has improved, and this year there is a surplus. Director Nixon also pointed out that the State’s bond rating has improved as well as a result of these changes.

Following his remarks there was a panel including former House Fiscal Agency Director Mitch Bean and Eric Luphur from Citizens Research Council. Both Mitch and Eric are extremely familiar with the state’s budget and changes made over the last few decades. They discussed how the state’s budgeting over the last decade has pushed the problem onto local units of government (as we all know too well). In Mitch’s words: “I guess it’s better to starve someone else’s beast instead of your own, because that’s when the problem started to be shifted to local governments in a big way through revenue sharing cuts.”

Samantha Harkins is Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at (517) 908-0306 and sharkins@mml.org.

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