In MLive today, Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, attempts to make the case that voters should repeal the state’s emergency manager law, which is Proposal 1 on the ballot. He argues that the law is undemocratic. However, he fails to note that referendum leaves local control unaddressed.
Michigan voters are being asked whether to affirm or nullify Public Act 4 of 2011, the state’s emergency manager law. Repealing this law would reinstate the old emergency financial manager law. These laws both allow state takeovers of fiscally distressed local governments and school districts.
But even if the state lacked a law that instilled a state-appointed receiver, it is still possible for an appointed receiver to control a government. The city of Ecorse was taken over in the 1980s by a local court after it couldn't pay vendors.
If voters are concerned about their local government’s elected officials losing their power to a state- or court-appointed receiver, then they need to ensure that their local governments can pay their bills. The state’s emergency manager law is one last step in ensuring that local governments in Michigan meet their financial obligations. This power will remain regardless of whether Public Act 4 is repealed.