Public Act 4, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act (PA 4 of 2011), fundamentally threatens democracy and our local rights because it is a power grab by politicians. It must be struck down or repealed for the sake of Michigan Democracy.
The Emergency Manager law allows the governor to declare a local government or school district in financial distress and appoint an emergency manager to take control. Emergency managers are nelected bureaucrats are unaccountable to local taxpayers and have unchecked, unprecedented power. Under this law, they can:
The unelected bureaucrats would be empowered to write the local government's budget and all its contracts for two years AFTER they are gone. No input from local residents, no collective bargaining.
This is just a power grab by politicians in Lansing. Political opponents of local officials don't have to beat them in elections. They can just get Governor Snyder and politicians in Lansing to take away power and put their people in place, people who support their political agenda – not the needs of people in the community. We need our leaders to come together to find solutions, not take away voting rights and strip decision-making power from local communities.
Michigan already had a law in place, a law used by both Republican and Democratic governors, that allowed the appointment of officials to help bring communities and school districts in financial trouble back to solid ground. It was working, but now the power-hungry Governor and other politicians rammed a new law through that gave politically appointed managers unprecedented powers to cancel collective bargaining, privatize services, and strip power from local elected officials. This law isn't about fiscal responsibility, it's about grabbing power.
When you read the fine print in this law, it says emergency managers have the power to end contracts. That is a backdoor way of taking away the right to collective bargaining. They know they can't pass a law to completely end collective bargaining in Michigan, so they will use this loophole to end it community by community. The rights of public servants like cops, firefighters, nurses and teachers who negotiated contracts in good faith will be stripped away.
One of the most important parts of our democracy is the ability for voters to have local control. They can elect people from their community, people they know, to serve on their city councils or school boards. With the emergency manager law, voters can be completely stripped of that power, and outsiders appointed by the Governor will have more power in communities they don't even live in, without the approval of voters who live there.
The emergency manager legislation has zero oversight and zero accountability. Under this law, it is entirely up to the governor to have his political appointees go into communities and do what they want to change rules for their schools and governments, local tax rates, cancel contracts and sell off community assets. These financial managers don't need one bit of approval from the legislature, local leaders, or even voters to make these drastic changes.
Lansing politicians are unfairly exploiting the economic crisis to attack Michigan families, take away our rights, and put our communities at risk. Rather than kick communities when they are down, we should be working to prevent local units of government from getting in financial trouble. Instead, the State proposes to cut school aid and revenue sharing and then blame local elected officials and public sector workers for their inability to properly manage the State's budget.
Worse, while being unable to run the State properly, the State then pretends it can do a better job running your local communities than those you elected to do the job.
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