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CRC Column

The right to criticize government is also an obligation to know what you are talking about. 
-Lent Upson, 1st Executive Director of CRC  

2010 Publications

Benchmarking the City of Manistee
Report 365 ( October 2010 ) 85 pages

CRC benchmarked Manistee against a number of peer cities (Albion, Alpena, Cadillac, Charlevoix, Ludington, Petoskey, Springfield, St. Joseph, Traverse City) to compare operations on a number of the recommendations made in an operational services assessment performed for the city. The study compares the demographics and finances of the cities and then benchmarks a number of service areas in human relations, finance, fire protection, police protection, public works, water/wastewater, refuse collection, and strategic planning.

Nonrecurring Resources and the FY2011 General Fund Budget
State Budget Note 2010-03 ( October 2010 ) 12 pages

The Michigan legislature completed its work on the FY2011 General Fund budget before October 1 and the governor signed all but one of the appropriations bills (higher education) before the start of the new fiscal year, thus avoiding another temporary government shutdown. The FY2011 state School Aid Fund budget, which provides operating funding for Michigan's local and intermediate school districts, was completed in July, when local schools start their new fiscal year. Both "early" adoption of the SAF budget along with the avoidance of another government shutdown mark some progress in the budget development process compared to the experience in recent years; however, while the FY2011 budget did contain some cuts, it still relies heavily on nonrecurring resources.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan's new report, Nonrecurring Resources and the FY2011 General Fund Budget, looks at the major solutions to achieve budget balance for FY2010 and FY2011 and provides some indication of the FY2012 fiscal problems that will face the new governor and the new legislature that will be seated in January 2011.

Nontraditional K-12 Schools in Michigan
Report 364 and Memorandum 1102 ( September 2010 ) 86 pages

Traditional public schools are responsible for the wide dissemination of education and the growth of prosperity in the United States, but they have never been the only means of delivering education. Homeschooling and private schools predate traditional public schools, and more recently, the development of publicly funded, independently managed charter schools has changed the public school landscape. That landscape is being further transformed by the newest form of nontraditional school: the virtual or cyber school that delivers education on line, 24/7, to students anywhere in the state.

Nontraditional schools are the topic of the newest in a series of reports on various aspects of K-12 education being published by Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The emphasis of the report on charter schools is particularly relevant, given the prominent role the federal government has assigned to charters in strategies for turning around failing public schools.

Charter schools are called public school academies (PSAs) in Michigan. PSAs, which compete for students based on the programs they offer, are a tuition-free alternative to traditional public schools. The CRC report reviews the history, structure, and experience of PSAs, with particular emphasis on student achievement. The special categories of Michigan public school academies are defined and described.

Statewide Issues on the November General Election Ballot
Proposal 2010-02

Memorandum 1101 ( September 2010 )

With the November election fast approaching, candidates are running for offices in nearly every type of state and local government in Michigan. If Proposal 2010-02 is adopted by the voters at that election, it will create new eligibility criteria aimed at keeping certain felons that have committed crimes involving crimes involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or breach of the public trust from running for office in the future.

Proposal 2010-02 is a legislatively proposed constitutional amendment that would add a Section 8 to Article XI of the 1963 Michigan Constitution. The proposal affects elective public offices at all levels of state and local government as well as public employment that is policy-making or that has discretionary authority over public assets. Former public officials convicted within the past 20 years of certain crimes related to their official capacity in holding office or position of employment would be affected.

State and Local Revenues for Public Education in Michigan
Report 363 and Memorandum 1100 ( September 2010 ) 107 pages

This report focuses primarily on the state and local revenues available to support public education, with particular attention paid to the structure of the financing system and changes to it over time. This report also covers the major factors, economic, political, and demographic, that influence performance of state and local revenues. Despite the significant resources being dedicated to K-12 education, there are concerns that the system is somehow "broken" and that schools are "under-funded." Additionally, concerns about the long-term health of the financing system hinge on projections that spending pressures will outpace revenue growth prospectively.

The FY2011 School Aid Fund Budget: A Day Late and A Few Hundred Million Dollars Short
State Budget Note 2010-02 ( July 2010 )

Before embarking on its traditional 4th of July two-week recess, the Michigan Legislature passed the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY2011) budget for the School Aid Fund (SAF), which provides operating funding for Michigan's local and intermediate school districts. July action on the SAF budget this year breaks with recent history, during which the state budget (SAF and General Fund) has not been enacted until late September or even after October 1, the start of the new state fiscal year. The legislature's "early" adoption of the budget provides schools with a greater degree of certainty as they begin their fiscal years on July 1. Observers should be cautious about placing too much importance on the recent legislative action, however, as a number of major budgetary issues, both for this year and next, remain to be resolved.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan's recent report, The Fiscal Year 2011 School Aid Fund Budget: A Day Late and a Few Million Dollars Short, looks at the impetus, issues, and implications surrounding the adoption of the new state school-aid spending plan.

Special Report on Michigan Constitutional Issues
Report 360 ( February-July 2010 )

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released a series of papers analyzing issues that voters may use to decide their vote on the November 2, 2010 ballot. Proposal 1 will ask Michigan voters whether a constitutional convention should be convened for the purpose of a general revision of the state Constitution.

"Among the many issues a constitutional convention may choose to address," said CRC President Jeffrey Guilfoyle, "Are the roles of the executive and legislative branches in the budget process, the balanced budget requirements, and the operations of state government when appropriations are not enacted before the beginning of each fiscal year."

At the November 2, 2010 general election, the voters of Michigan will decide whether to call a constitutional convention to revise the 1963 Michigan Constitution. The question appears on the ballot automatically every 16 years as required by the Constitution. The Constitution provides that a convention would convene in Lansing on October 4, 2011. If the question is re-jected, it will automatically appear on the ballot again in the year 2026.

View a description of each paper in the series
    360-01 General Revision of the Michigan Constitution
    360-02 A Brief Michigan Constitutional History
    360-03 Amending the Michigan Constitution: Trends and Issues
    360-04 Article I -- Declaration of Rights
    360-05 Article II -- Elections
    360-06 Article III -- General Government
    360-07 Article IV -- Legislative Branch
    360-08 Article V -- Executive Branch
    360-09 Article VI -- Judicial Branch
    360-10 Article VII -- Local Government
    360-11 Article VIII -- Education
    360-12 Article IX - Finance and Taxation
    360-13 Article X -- Property
    360-14 Article XI - Public Officers and Employment
    360-15 Article XII -- Amendment and Revision
    360-16 Statewide Issues on the November General Election Ballot: Proposal 2010-01

Download all of papers in the series

Financial Emergencies in Michigan Local Governments
Report 362 and Memorandum 1099 ( April 2010 ) 38 pages

Financial Emergencies in Michigan Local Governments describes the options available to fiscally distressed municipalities, including an in-depth description of Michigan's Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act and Chapter 9 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code. The report also defines key terms including: emergency financial manager, in default, judgment levy, insolvency, bankruptcy, and receivership.

The Fiscal Condition of the City of Detroit
Report 361 and Memorandum 1098 ( April 2010 ) 74 pages

The "Great Recession" that began in December, 2007 has exacerbated the effects of population loss, poverty, and disinvestment on the City of Detroit. The tax base, already stressed, has deteriorated significantly, as the number of businesses and jobs has declined, unemployment has increased, and population has dwindled. The recently published Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for Fiscal Year 2007-08 (FY2008) indicates that the city's general fund deficit increased from $155.6 million at the end of FY 2007 to $219.2 million at the end of FY 2008. No CAFR is available for FY2009, but city officials budgeted a $280 million prior years accumulated deficit for FY2010, and they estimate the current year general fund operating deficit to be in the range of $100 million. The Crisis Turnaround Team appointed by Mayor Bing to assess city operations and make recommendations estimated that, absent major changes, the city's average annual (structural) deficit for Fiscal Years 2010 through 2112 would be $260 million.

The FY2011 Executive Budget: "Déjà Vu All Over Again"
State Budget Note 2010-01 ( February 2010 ) 7 pages

This paper examines the Governor’s FY2011 executive budget, with special attention to those aspects intended to address the long-term structural imbalance plaguing the General and School Aid Fund budgets.

The exhaustion of the temporary federal recovery funds used to support state spending in FY2009 and FY2010 and the revelation of the resultant "revenue cliff" in FY2011 will bring the state’s structural deficit problems into clearer focus. Absent any further extraordinary sources of fiscal relief, the Michigan legislature is now tasked with passing appropriations bills and associated legislation that reduce spending and/or raise taxes to achieve balance in the coming fiscal year.

Public Education Governance in Michigan
Report 359 ( January 2010 ) 62 pages

A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan analyzes how public education is structured and governed in Michigan. The report finds education governance to be complex with multiple government officials and agencies from all levels of government involved in education governance and policymaking. The report discusses the roles of the federal government, state government, intermediate school districts, local school districts, and public school academies (i.e., charter schools) in Michigan's education governance system. It used to be that public education in Michigan was the responsibility of local government officials, but now it is considered a high priority by officials at all levels of government mirroring a nation-wide trend toward more centralized education funding and governance. Beyond the formal education governance structure, other groups and actors have influence over education governance and policy, including federal and state courts, unions, state and local education associations, and community interest groups.

An interstate comparison of education governance structures puts education governance in Michigan into context. In general, Michigan has a large number of districts that tend to be smaller than average in terms of population per district, students per district, and geographic size. Michigan also stands out with a more centralized funding structure due to the passage of Proposal A in 1994, which gave the state the authority to determine operating funding levels for local school districts.




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Last Updated May 7, 2013