LANSING, Mich. — A proposal to grant wider powers to emergency managers assigned to fiscally troubled cities and school districts has drawn fire from the state’s largest teachers union, which stopped just short of telling a television news station that the governor is attempting to drive schools bankrupt as a way to eliminate collective bargaining privileges.

House Bill 4214 would allow emergency financial managers, appointed by the state, to modify or terminate union-negotiated contracts between school districts and their employees as a way to resolve worst-case budget deficits, television station WWMT reported. They also could close schools or put a property tax millage request before voters. The bill passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The station reported that “some wonder” about the timing of the bill, given Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to reduce per-pupil funding to schools by $470 per student.

“I would hesitate to say that Governor Snyder would be part of some coordinated plan to cause fiscal emergencies,” MEA spokesman Doug Pratt told WWMT, “but have some people connected the dots, I'm sure they have.” 

"I don’t want to have a financial manager situation,” Snyder said, according to WWMT. The governor said that most school districts could avoid such a possibility by revising employee benefits to bring down expenses.

SOURCE:
WWMT-TV, Kalamazoo, “Bill would let emergency financial managers take over public entities,” Feb. 24, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Votes.org, “House Bill 4214 (Increase power of school and local emergency financial managers),” Feb. 9, 2011

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