The media recognize that without a trusted, independent source of data and analysis, the flow of information about state and local government issues would be controlled by two sources — the governmental units themselves and interest groups. CRC is that trusted source. Here are the latest articles in which CRC is cited:

Robert Schneider, the director of state affairs at the Citizens Research Council, pointed out that the trend coincided with the skyrocketing costs of health care.

Yes, Detroit’s revenue decline is a problem. But as a report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan shows, no matter how you slice it, Detroit gets more revenue than every other municipality in the state, and the city’s still a fiscal basket case.

While Michigan’s private sector workforce has grown by almost 9 percent since 2009, the number of government jobs, particularly at the local level, has dropped by nearly 6 percent, according to a report released in September by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

Jeffrey Guilfoyle, president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, also said he expects to see positive job growth in the state in 2014.

“We should have another year of growth after 10 years of economic decline,” Guilfoyle said, adding “we lost jobs every year from 2001 to 2010, and positive job growth is a huge improvement from that.”

The discussion at the city’s workshop meeting was preliminary, stemming from an application the city will make with the state to cover costs of the nonprofit Citizens Research Council study completed earlier this year on the impacts of consolidation. The study cost $10,000, with Saugatuck and Douglas splitting the cost.

The Citizens Research Council has recently released a study examining why the system is so expensive. The details are complicated, but in the end it comes down to basic economics.

A merger just makes sense. A Citizens Research Council report earlier this year found potential annual cost savings of nearly $500,000 by streamlining administrative roles.

And saying local governments have much to learn from state government must be a joke. In September, the independent Citizens Research Council (CRC) of Michigan issued a report that sheds light on how the state has been able to “stabilize” its budgets and get “back on track.” The report found that the Legislature and governor have slashed revenue-sharing to local Michigan governments by $5 billion over the past decade. Basically, CRC found that the Legislature ignores laws that require them to send revenues to local communities for essential services. Instead, the state has kept the revenues and used them to cut taxes, to balance state budgets, and increase state spending by 26%.

Auto-related medical claims cost Michigan insurers 57 percent more than similar claims in states that rely on courts to resolve them, making premiums 17 percent higher in Michigan, a new Citizens Research Council of Michigan report claims.

Mr. Snyder’s comments came as the Citizens Research Council took heat from Democrats at a hearing Wednesday on the group’s recent report on personal injury protection coverage under the state’s no-fault law.

As key lawmakers try to re-energize the controversial reform effort, the House and Senate insurance committees held a joint meeting this afternoon to discuss a report on no-fault from the Citizens Research Council.

On Wednesday morning, a coalition of medical and consumers groups criticized the report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan as flawed. Researchers who performed the study are scheduled to answer lawmakers’ questions about their findings later in the day.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan often wades deep into complex policy issues to offer perspective for thoughtful Michiganders. Its latest foray is into the world of no-fault auto insurance.

The personal property tax, which dates to 1893, has been criticized as burdensome and unfair because every business has to fill out a form itemizing each piece of equipment and its age, after which an assessor assigns a value according to depreciation tables, the Citizens Research Council says. It raises $800 million to $1.2 billion annually.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan, which studied medical costs stemming from car accidents, said auto insurers pay much higher health care bills than private insurers and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Injured motorists also get more medical care in Michigan than in other states because it offers “expansive and nearly unlimited coverage.”

According to the report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, auto insurers pay a larger amount of health care bills in comparison to government-backed schemes such as Medicare and Medicaid, or private insurance firms.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan prepared a report commissioned by the city of Saugatuck and the Village of Douglas. The council’s Director of Local Affairs Eric Lupher prepared the report and spoke with WMUK’s Gordon Evans.

A new Citizens Research Council of Michigan report says the state’s no-fault auto coverage leads to medical costs and insurance premiums that are higher than in other states.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan, which studied medical costs stemming from car accidents, said auto insurers pay much higher health care bills than private insurers and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Injured motorists also get more medical care in Michigan than in other states because it offers “expansive and nearly unlimited coverage.”

The informative meeting Sept. 24 with Citizens Research Council local affairs director Eric Lupher gave us the picture there was little benefit for voting yes on consolidation for economic reasons.

A study by the nonprofit Citizens Research Council concluded a consolidation would save both communities about $467,000 a year from eliminating duplication of city positions, such as cutting two city managers to one, and increasing efficiency such as plowing of roads.

“There may be an opportunity for savings. But that is weighed against attachment to a community, identity and the relationships to the community people live in,” said Eric Lupher, an analyst with the Michigan Citizens Research Council, and author of a report on the proposed merger of Saugatuck and Douglas.

In July, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan projected annual savings of nearly $470,000 from a merger, mostly from streamlining the offices of city manager, treasurer and clerk and funding one public works department and one city council instead of two. For a home valued at $200,000, it calculated annual savings of $192 in property tax in Douglas and $184 in Saugatuck. Another study by the accounting firm Plante Moran, funded by the group backing a merger, found similar savings.

The large savings the Citizens Research Council projects with consolidation can only occur if the new council in the new city adheres strictly to what is laid out in the CRC report.

I attended the Citizens Research Council of Michigan presentation Sept. 24. The nonprofit organization, hired by both cities to study consolidation issues, stated such a move might result in $467,000 potential savings.

To the editor: The referendum question on the Nov. 5 ballot comes down to how we see the future of our community. Will we continue with a two-government system that the Citizens Research Council has documented is 13-percent inefficient? Do we need two-of-everything on both sides of the bridge, or can we come together to govern ourselves more efficiently?

In addition, the state legislature has cut back on legally required distributions of state revenue. The Citizens Research Council found that since 2003 the state government has withheld more than $5 billion in legally required state revenue sharing money the law designates for local governments.

“It seen pretty clear, you need to stop collecting the millage,” said Eric Lupher, director of local affairs at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a non-partisan public affairs research group.

A consolidation of the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas could result in more than just a saving of taxpayer dollars, it could also improve stewardship of the Kalamazoo River and the lake that empties into Lake Michigan.

But, according to a Citizens Research Council of Michigan report, there are also questions about how such a merger would affect the debt of both cities, as well as how city assets would be split up.

Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director, Dan Gilmartin, and Director of Local Affairs for Citizens Research Council, Eric Lupher on public employment trends.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan published a report calculating the widespread financial hardships of local governments over the last decade.

John Thomas stepped down from the bleachers at the Saugatuck High School auditorium after an almost 2-hour presentation Tuesday night.

He came to get his questions answered about the possible merger of Saugatuck and Douglas by Eric Lupher of the nonprofit Citizens Research Council.

So the state House Appropriations subcommittee on Local Government is hoping the Citizens Research Council, a Livonia-based think tank, can help cut through the thicket. Today, the subcommittee approved sending a letter to the council asking that a study be undertaken.

“This doesn’t sound like a very wise plan,” said Eric Lupher, director of local affairs at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “You can’t pay what you don’t have.”

According to a study released by the Citizens Research Council, a Michigan public policy research firm, the cities would save a total of $500,000 a year.

“If the state is serious about local governments being more efficient, this is a small token of effort it could do to help those cities,” said Eric Lupher, director of local affairs at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a nonpartisan group based in Livonia.

Both sides point to a study released last month by the Citizens Research Council, a public policy research firm based in Livonia, that shows a savings of up to $500,000 a year if consolidation occurs. The savings would result in an average property tax savings of $192 a year for Douglas homeowners and $184 a year for Saugatuck residents.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has revised its report on issues related to consolidating Saugatuck and Douglas to address “inconsistencies” identified by the two cities’ officials after its first release.

Both the Detroit Zoo and the DIA have assigned legal counsel “representing their interests” in the bankruptcy, said Eric Lupher, director of local affairs for the Livonia-based Citizens Research Council, a nonprofit think tank.

“Certainly, the surrounding counties should be involved as well, because they’re levying these taxes” to support the zoo and the DIA, Lupher said.

The nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan suggests the state may have more recalls because it has a large number of elected officials — about 18,000 — and the down economy has contributed to budget cuts, angering constituents. At least 457 officials faced recall from 2000 through 2011, about 38 a year, the group found in a 2012 report.

A combined Saugatuck-Douglas could save more than $500,000, a new report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan says.

Eric Lupher, Director of Local Affairs for the Citizens Research Council of Michigan said, “Well given the reality of where Benton Harbor is now obviously there has been some dis-investment in the city. There are buds of new investments coming in the city with Whirlpool and the golf course hopefully that will spur economic development.”

To the editor: The release of the Citizens Research Council’s report has not changed the Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities’ belief that consolidation is not in the best interest of Saugatuck or Douglas. The minimal cost savings shown in the report is far outweighed by loss of our cities’ independence, identities and levels of service we are accustomed to having.

A new report finds that a merger between the Village of Douglas and the City of Saugatuck could reduce the millage rate for residents of the area. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan report estimates that 500-thousand dollars in savings could result if the merger goes through. The operating millage required to fund the reduced spending would drop from 13 mills in Saugatuck and 13.08 mills in Douglas to 10.7 mills across the merged city. The question of whether to consolidate will be on the November 5th ballot.

Voters will have their say later this year on the proposed merger of Saugatuck and Douglas in Allegan County. A new report by Citizens Research Council of Michigan says combining the two local governments will save taxpayers at least 561-thousand dollars a year. Another group opposed to the merger, Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities, disputes the findings.

A new study from an independent research group shows taxpayers in the cities of Douglas and Saugatuck could save more than half a million dollars a year if the local governments merged.

Eric Lupher is Director of Local Affairs for the independent Citizens Research Council of Michigan. He authored the study on a potential merger of city governments in Saugatuck and Douglas. You can read the full report on the CRC’s website.

Guests will include Bettie Buss, formerly of the Citizens Research Council; George Orzech, chairman of the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, and Robert Gordon, legal counsel for the Detroit Pension Boards and a member of the Clark Hill Law Firm.

A merger of the cities of Saugatuck and Doulgas could save taxpayers more than $561,000 — about 17 percent of their respective budgets – according to a Citizens Research Council of Michigan report that was funded by the two cities.

Fifteen years ago, Archer made the deal to avert cuts looming cuts in revenue sharing, a mainstay of local governments, according to news accounts from the period and the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan, which has studied the agreement.

“It’s somewhat troubling that Kevyn Orr has been given as much latitude as he has been to make these kind of proclamations of what debt is secured and what isn’t,” said Eric Lupher, director of local affairs for the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “The bond world … will think long and hard about whether (Michigan is) a market they want to play in in the future.”

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan, hired by the cities this winter for $10,000 to independently assess issues also considered to some extent by Consolidated Government Committee-contracted studies, first projected it would complete the work by mid-April.

But Eric Lupher, director of local affairs for the Citizens Research Council in Livonia, said Oakland County took as big a fiscal hit as any government entity in the state.

“From my perspective, it doesn’t matter how affluent they were,” Lupher said.

Avoiding deficits “is about sound budgeting practices and looking beyond your immediate fiscal year. Because they were looking into the future three years, and now they’re saying a fourth year, they were able to make decisions that minimize the pain on residents as well as businesses.”

Michigan schools could be left with a significant drop in state funding after next year. That’s according to a new report from the non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

An analysis of the state school aid budget for 2014 and beyond by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan questions whether increases in school funding for next fiscal year are sustainable for 2015 and beyond.

Perhaps most readers of this will never have to rely on Medicaid.

But nearly 20 percent of Michigan’s population depends on the program, according to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, which has offices in Lansing and Livonia.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan did thorough research on the topic and found that actual per pupil revenue for traditional K-12 education has fallen by 13.1 percent since 2004. Similarly, the Michigan Senate report on per pupil spending shows that current spending is below the pre-Rick Snyder era levels. Additionally, for the 2003-2004 school year Michigan’s per pupil spending was 7.8 percent more than the US average while the 2009-2010 level is 2.9 percent below the U.S. average.

Less publicized is a medical fee schedule endorsed by Snyder that also aims to reduce costs. Now comes an independent study, “Health Care Costs in Michigan: Drivers and Policy Options,” by the respected Citizens Research Council, that confirms the savings to Michiganians.

Article by Robert Schneider and Eric Lupher/Citizens Research Council of Michigan

Recently, Michigan Virtual University (MVU) released a report “Moving Michigan Farther, Faster: Personalized Learning and the Transformation of Learning in Michigan.” The report, prepared by Public Sector Consultants Inc. (PSC) and the Citizens Research Council (CRC), was commissioned by MVU in response to Gov. Rick Snyder’s call to examine technology innovation in Michigan schools. PSC and CRC interviewed state and national education leaders and did an extensive literature review. “Moving Michigan Farther, Faster” looks at both the future of education in Michigan and the role that technology could and should play in that future.

Duchane has long attested that funding for local governments is in need of statewide reform, and now with a couple of studies backing the theory — the CLOSUP survey results from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Local Government Finance Study, a joint study by students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan and Macomb Area Communities for Regional Opportunities (MACRO) — he’s hoping lawmakers in Lansing will start paying attention.

Summarizes State Budget Note 2013-01

A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan finds that increases to K-12 spending in the state hasn’t resulted in additional dollars in the classroom. [Radio Interview]

Growing contributions to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System are reducing what school districts can spend on other educational services and that effect is likely to continue for the near term, the Citizens Research Council said in a report released Wednesday.

A new report says Michigan’s public schools have less to spend educating students because of rising teacher retirement costs. The Citizens Research Council says retirement now eats up nearly 15 percent of the money districts get per-student. That’s up from only about nine percent in 2004.

Guest Commentary by Eric Lupher

Detroit paid $17.41 per capita for its City Council in 2010, before two years of cuts that shrank the council’s budget to $10.7 million last year. Detroit, by far, has the highest expenses in the state, said Bettie Buss, senior research associate at the independent, nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan. Buss is compiling a report on spending for 24 Michigan cities with populations of 50,000 or more, based on data from the cities’ annual financial reports to the state and 2010 census figures.

With Michigan’s largest city now under the direction of an emergency manager, statewide attention has focused on the city of Detroit’s finances. The Citizens Research Council, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research firm, has published an analysis of the city’s fiscal structure and trends — Detroit City Government Revenues. This report attempts to address a number of important questions to help readers be better able to develop and assess proposed policy solutions for Detroit’s fiscal crisis (a study of Detroit’s expenditures will be published by CRC shortly).

Regardless of the options, no one seems to be championing local government reform in the Legislature, said Eric Lupher, director of local affairs at the Citizens Research Council, a nonprofit public affairs research organization in Lansing.

“The Legislature is more worried about the state’s problems than the local governments’ problems,” Lupher said. “It really is going to require somebody to champion it, somebody to take this on. A lot of small voices isn’t raising enough awareness. It’s going to take a policy leader.”

Take the new report from the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council analyzing Detroit’s revenue. It’s the latest in a series of CRC reports on Detroit’s finances; previous reports looked at the city’s legacy costs and indebtedness, government expenditures, and municipal government’s accounting and operational structure.

To get a better grasp of Detroit’s fiscal issues, the Craig Fahle Show looks at a recent report on the city’s revenue. Bettie Buss of Citizens Research Council of Michigan describes Detroit’s revenue structure, how it has changed over the years, and how it compares to other Michigan cities.

Detroit takes in more revenue, both total and per capita, than most of its counterparts, but still has managed to overspend those revenues every year since 2003, a report from the Citizens Research Council said.

Detroit residents pay the highest local taxes on a per capita basis compared to other Michigan municipalities, while the city collects the biggest chunk of state shared revenue, according to an analysis released on Monday.

The report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a public policy group, comes just days after a state-appointed emergency manager stepped in to try and resolve Detroit’s fiscal problems. The council found that Detroit’s tax rates — including property, income and other local taxes — are high versus other Michigan cities.

“We’re very hopeful that Detroit can avoid bankruptcy,” said Bettie Buss, senior research associate at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. Having a bankruptcy expert handle the city’s books and negotiate with creditors, however, “gives the discussions… more urgency,” she said. If creditors know bankruptcy is an option, they could be more motivated to negotiate.

At Northern Michigan University Thursday, the President of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, Jeffery Guilfoyle said the state is making a comeback, but there’s still a long way to go.

Fifteen years ago, Archer made the deal to avert looming cuts in revenue sharing, a mainstay of local governments, according to news accounts from the period and the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan, which has studied the agreement.

His report reaches a conclusion similar to one of a 2011 study of county benefits by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan that found unfunded liabilities are “a government finance issue in need of attention.”

Bettie Buss, a senior research associate at the public-policy group Citizens Research Council of Michigan, agrees it would be an uphill battle.

“Essentially, (the court has) to find it was an abuse of power and that has simply not happened,” she said.

In fact, the city’s short-term cash flow problems and its historical structural imbalances–which the respected Citizens Research Council of Michigan ( and an independent Financial Review team indicated are in the billions–went virtually unaddressed.

Just how far gone is Detroit? Eric Lupher, director of local affairs for the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, sums it up like this: “The city could stop doing all of its current operations today — no more police and fire, no more garbage collection, no more street lights — and the city would still have billions of dollars of debt and promises made for future payments that it would have to pay.”

Skeptics need not rely on the state-appointed review team’s report. Independent analysts from Michigan State University to the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council have made similar findings, based on the city’s audited financial statements.

The proposed rewrite of the school aid formula “does raise a number of questions that may require study,” said Jeffrey Guilfoyle, president of the non-partisan and highly respected Citizens Research Council. “The foundation allowance represents the average cost of educating a child. If you are going to allow the foundation allowance to be split, it raises all types of pricing questions.”

That leaves less money to fund services, said Bettie Buss, a senior researcher at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan and a former budget analyst for Detroit.

“The city for years has tried to figure out how to push the cost of current obligations to the future, but unfortunately, revenues are going down,” Buss said. “That made it harder to push off costs.”

Scorsone and Bettie Buss of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan said the real issue for Detroit is the billions of dollars it owes in liabilities, pensions and retiree health care.

Michigan last raised its fuel taxes in 1997, moving it from 15 cents to 19 cents (technically 18.715) for gasoline. In the interim, the buying power of those 19 cents — for asphalt, steel and the other elements of road construction and repair — has eroded. The nonpartisan Citizens Research Council noted in a 2011 report that had the 19-cent levy kept pace with inflation, it would now be 27 cents.

Saugatuck and Douglas are hiring the Citizens Research Council of Michigan to complete a study by April. The Detroit-area group is an independent organization that studies state and local government.

Some missteps are to be expected as the city works on new ways to collect more revenues, said Bettie Buss, a former budget official for the city of Detroit and senior research associate with the Citizens Research Council of Michigan in Livonia.

“To some extent, what we’re seeing is the city is finally actually starting to do something about it and part of it is going to be cleaning up their records and cleaning up their information management system,” Buss said. “Everything depends on the accuracy of record-keeping. And record keeping has been one of those areas where Detroit has historically had challenges.”

“They’re going to be unbiased,” Saugatuck Mayor Bill Hess said about the Livonia-based nonprofit Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “It will give our citizens the information they need to make a decision.”

Highlighting the value of teachers fits well with other recent reports. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan came out with a study a year ago that called for more attention to the training of teachers. And Gov. Rick Snyder has made this a priority as well and has requested teaching programs toughen their core requirements, among other measures.

However, it is not true that a high percentage of Michigan’s inmates are in prison for drug offenses. According to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, only 9 percent are in prison for drug crimes, while 44 percent are there for violent crimes; 24 percent are there for sex crimes; 23 percent are there for non-violent crimes.

According to the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan, opponents would have to file petitions with signatures of registered voters equal to 8 percent of total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election for a statutory initiative. (By contrast, a referendum requires 5 percent.)

“Local units will obviously have more choice under the new law,” said Bettie Buss, a senior researcher for the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “But how the state administers this choice is the thing that remains to be seen.”