Reforming the Process for Identifying and Funding Section 29 Mandates on Local Governments
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Section 29 prohibits the State from reducing the portion of funding for mandates for which the State shared the cost of provision in 1978 or from imposing new mandates (after 1978) on local governments without proper funding. Public Act 101 of 1979, the law enacted to implement Section 29, was never fully implemented and state requirements subsequently have been enacted without regard to this provision in the Constitution. The courts have resisted enforcing this provision. And rather than enforcing the State Constitution, executive branch officers have actively opposed enforcement of this section.
Section 29 has gained attention recently. Public Act 98 of 2007 created the Legislative Commission on Statutory Mandates and directed that body to review and investigate the extent of unfunded mandates imposed on local units of government by State government through state laws. The Commission engaged the Citizens Research Council of Michigan to investigate practices in other states with similar constitutional and statutory requirements to fund state mandates on local governments. This report provides options and alternatives to the Commission on a number of statutory reforms that would carry out the intent of Section 29 as a measure to protect local governments against the State passing costs to local governments that it is not willing to pay for itself.
As will be discussed below, the role of the Legislative Commission on Statutory Mandates extends to some analysis of whether existing laws constitute state requirements under Section 29. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan chose to get involved with this project not because we have a firm opinion on the extent of unfunded mandates imposed on local governments, but because a vigorous enforcement process is needed to investigate claims of unfunded state requirements by local governments, determine relevant costs, and draw a legislative response when claims are found to be legitimate.
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