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Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 5, 2009

Contact
Andrea Messinger

Revenue Sharing Cuts from Governor, Legislature to Trigger More Crime, Layoffs Statewide

Lansing Must Stop the Annual Policy of Cuts that Block Prosperity

LANSING, Mich. — The Governor and Legislature today were expected to make deep cuts to funding already budgeted for police officers and fire fighters, safe drinking water, road repairs and other essential services in communities across Michigan — funding that has already been slashed by more than $3 billion in the past eight years, local government leaders warned.

At a news conference near the Capitol, mayors, city managers and other local officials called on Gov. Jennifer Granholm and lawmakers to stop the insane annual cutting of services that attract people and jobs to communities across the state. It is time for the Governor and lawmakers to make tough decisions and take bold actions to help restore prosperity to Michigan. Until they do, Michigan residents can expect more years of budget cuts that will drive people, jobs and employers out of the state.

“It is time to stop the annual policy of making cuts that give the illusion of solving the problem but instead drive people and jobs out of Michigan,” said Michigan Municipal League (MML) Executive Director and CEO Dan Gilmartin. “Communities with high crime, bad water and no parks are not places people want to call home and companies want to locate. We need our elected leaders to have the vision to pass reforms that will end the state’s structural budget deficit and restore prosperity by creating jobs, generating new investments and creating the types of places in Michigan where people want to live.”

Gilmartin added: “Instead of focusing on priorities to bring people and jobs to Michigan by enacting policies that strengthen our communities, this Executive Order simply attempts to manage the decline of the state. It’s time to be bold, not reactive.”

Local leaders expect the Governor today to announce revenue sharing cuts of $41 million in the final months of the year. Revenue sharing pays for police officers, fire fighters, road maintenance, water systems, parks and other essential local services. In the past eight years, Lansing has slashed revenue sharing by $3 billion, causing the layoffs of thousands of police officers and fire fighters and cuts to other critical services. The cuts announced today come in the middle of local government fiscal years, creating fiscal emergencies across the state.

“The cuts-only policies of our state elected leaders are killing Michigan one local community at a time,” said Kentwood Mayor Richard Root. “If people do not feel safe in their neighborhood, can’t walk in a park, can’t get anywhere unless they drive, and can only drive on roads that resemble a bombed out field, we are doomed as a state. Cutting funding promised to local governments — revenue sharing — is taking the easy way out. Instead, state leaders must enact public policies that will restore prosperity. That needs to happen now.”

Restoring prosperity to Michigan will require a dramatic overhaul of the current mix of taxes, which no longer reflect Michigan’s emerging economy. It also must include investments in public transit and the transportation infrastructure, which will create thousands of jobs and billions in new business investments. In addition, given the massive state budget cuts and reductions in property taxes, local governments need all tools available to control the biggest chunk of their budgets, which can be accomplished by amending Public Act 312. Finally, state lawmakers and the Governor must provide funding to keep people safe in their homes and businesses.

“We have tried to work with our Legislature in explaining what 21st century businesses and communities need to become sustainable,” said MML President Robin Beltramini, a Troy City Council member. “What Lansing is doing right now is what they’ve always done: look at a pot, ignore what it actually provides, and cut it.”

She continued: “I would submit that the continuing repetition of such actions:  cutting revenue sharing eight years in a row and the inability to think beyond a crisis — however many years in a row — is why we are still having this heated argument.”

The local leaders said they will be sure their constituents know that cuts ordered by Lansing are causing hardships in communities across Michigan.

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