State should care for cities, villages, and townships

Recently, reporter Crystal Nelson informed us of research from the Michigan Municipal League that found the state had shortchanged cities, villages, and townships across the state some $8.6 billion from 2002 to 2017, including $19.6 million in Northeast Michigan.

Local governments get state money through two streams: automatic payments called for in the state constitution, and other payments called for through regular state law.

That system of revenue sharing was set up in response to other state laws that handcuff local governments’ ability to raise new revenue by limiting the types of taxes that can be charged and even requiring tax rates to automatically reduce, in some instances, unless voters agree to keep higher rates.

The Municipal League found constitutional revenue sharing had not kept up with inflation and statutory revenue sharing had never been fully implemented.

As a result, local governments have not rebounded in the same way others have climbed out of the Great Recession, and local governments have had to cut personnel and services.

We know the state has its own budget pressures and is constitutionally required to balance its budget each year. That’s important.

But we also agree with the Municipal League when it said local communities are where actual economic development happens, and local governments provide the services that most directly impact Michiganders.

So it’s important they are cared for.

The state paying what is owed would go a long way toward that end.

We hope lawmakers take a serious look at the ways in which it shares revenue with local governments.



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