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Report 407 and Memorandum 1157 ( June 2019 )
- Property taxes are used to fund general services, while special assessments exist to finance infrastructure improvements that benefit a limited number of properties. In recent years, local governments have increasingly turned to ad valorem special assessments to finance general services.
- Ad valorem special assessments are apportioned on property value and levied similar to the general property tax, but they are treated like an assessment and skirt many of the tax limitations contained in law. While their use to finance local government services is technically legal, it undermines the legal and practical distinctions between taxes and special assessments.
- Beside the policy question of whether ad valorem special assessments should be returned to their historic role, their availability to select local governments is unfair to other local governments that are supporting the same general services through property taxes and to taxpayers as their use circumvents tax limitations under state law and distorts the purpose of the special assessment.
- Ad valorem special assessments should not be maintained in their current form. State policymakers should eliminate statutory authorization for all ad valorem special assessments and address the broken municipal finance system so that ad valorem special assessments will no longer be needed. If tax capacity is an issue, local governments should establish emergency service authorities under the process allowed for in state law since the majority of these special assessments fund public safety services.
( April 2019 )
Report 406 and Memorandum 1156 ( March 2019 )
- Public transportation is often viewed by policymakers and citizens as a social welfare program aimed at providing limited mobility for those with no other options. To attract “choice” riders and expand service, it needs to be viewed as an important public utility and a vital part of the public and private transportation networks.
- Regional governance is about more than the cross-section of people appointed or elected to the governing board. It requires state and local policies that adopt a broader focus on transportation, planning and zoning, and related policies. Most importantly, it demands collaboration among units of government and transit providers.
- Regional funding is a prerequisite for regional systems. Expanded funding options, beyond the property tax, requires authorization of additional types of local taxes; tax-base sharing; spreading the tax burden by levying multiple local tax rates; feathering tax rates by lowering rates as people get farther from the urban center; and/or linking public transit funding with road and other transportation funding.
Report 405 and Memorandum 1155 ( February 2019 )
- In 2015, Michigan enacted a funding package that will eventually generate $1.2 billion annually for state and local road projects. Even after it is fully implemented, the state will continue to be plagued with poor road conditions.
- Resources to address our current road needs can come from three main sources: increasing dedicated taxes, diverting existing state revenues, and/or borrowing. Each choice presents its own set of advantages and obstacles.
- Michigan taxpayers will be well served if reforms: disentangle motor fuels from the Sales Tax, prudently use all available resources for this funding priority, use bonding authority judiciously, and address how revenues are distributed and employed.
Memorandum 1154 ( February 2019 ) 8 pages
This paper provides a brief summary of Report 404.
Report 404 ( February 2019 ) 66 pages
- With fewer K-12 students, some decline in Michigan’s teacher ranks is normal and inevitable. But it’s not that simple. Need is evident in urban regions and growing in some areas – English as a Second Language, special education, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
- Enrollment in teacher-prep programs in Michigan colleges and universities has been falling for some time, by 66 percent over a recent seven-year period. This is compounded because the number of program completers and the number individuals who obtain state certification in specific subject areas are down as well.
- Understanding and addressing the real and potential shortages is hampered by the lack of clear data about the teaching workforce. Michigan has not prioritized studying this labor market and the shortage issue, so analysis is somewhat stymied by a shortage of available, timely and relevant information.
Memorandum 1153 ( September 2018 ) 8 pages
This paper provides a brief summary of the three proposals on the 2018 statewide ballot.
Memorandum 1150 ( September 2018 ) 12 pages
Voting and access to the ballot are fundamental to a thriving, well-functioning democracy. While all citizens have a responsibility to vote on Election Day, it falls to the government to ensure that all aspects of the voting process, from voter registration to election certification, are efficient, secure, fair, and accurate. The Michigan Constitution entrusts the state legislature with the responsibility “to regulate the time, place and manner of all elections,” except for instances where the Constitution specifically addresses aspects of the voting franchise. The legislature has enacted the Michigan Election Law to carry out its constitutional responsibility. The legislature, through a majority vote and with the approval of the governor, can change different aspects of the voting franchise.
If Proposal 2018-3 passes, a number of “voting rights” will be enshrined in the Michigan Constitution. Many of them are currently dealt with in state law. By including these rights in the state constitution, it will make it more difficult for the legislature to make changes to certain aspects of the voting franchise.
If Proposal 2018-3 is rejected, many of these “voting rights” would be enforced in current state law. Lawmakers will continue to be responsible for safeguarding voting in Michigan through state law and would have the prerogative of implementing in provisions not currently available. For example, if they wanted to adopt the automatic voter registration policy included in the ballot proposal, they would have to amend the Michigan Election Law to do so.
Major Issues to Consider: The key issue raised by the proposal deals less with the specific “voting rights” that would be included in the state constitution, than whether these policy preferences should be enshrined in the constitution. Most constitutional scholars believe that the state’s fundamental law should be reserved for establishing, defining, and limiting the basic powers of the government, stating general principles, and declaring the rights of citizens. Many of the policies contained in the proposal are ones that are essentially legislative matters that currently reside in the Michigan Election Law. Other states address these issues in statutory law as opposed to their state constitutions.
Memorandum 1150 ( September 2018 ) 12 pages
The redistricting process affects the core components of a representative democracy. It determines what candidates people are able to vote for and who an elected representative represents. The term “gerrymandering” characterizes the eccentric boundaries of many legislative districts, drawn to unfairly privilege one party over another. Gerrymandering enables the creation of “safe” districts that allow candidates to appeal only to their party base. In this way, gerrymandering facilitates polarization. Gerrymandering also erodes public trust in the political process. When groups feel the system is designed to limit their voice, or prevent them from electing candidates, it can lead to citizen disengagement and weaken the representational aspect of our governmental system.
If Proposal 2018-2 passes, the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission would be created and responsible for redistricting starting in 2021; the legislature would be removed from the process. The commission members would be randomly selected from a pool of applicants and would be required to host a minimum of 10 public meetings before developing the plans. Requirements for district plans would be set in the constitution.
If Proposal 2018-2 is rejected, the legislature would continue to be responsible for redistricting. Guidelines would be set by the legislature, but could be modified by future legislatures through statutory changes. Michigan would continue to lack binding constitutional guidelines.
Major issues to consider: The proposal intends to prevent gerrymandering, or redistricting designed to change the electoral fate of a candidate or political party from happening. The current system leaves those decisions in the hands of politicians who can directly benefit from the redistricting process. Proposal 2018-2 would set criteria to guide how the commission would draw maps and places many requirements on the commission to increase the transparency of the redistricting process. The drawbacks are that the commissioners are not elected officials, instead they are selected at random, and can only be held accountable by other commissioners.
Memorandum 1152 ( October 2018 ) 20 pages
Early arguments for the criminalization of marijuana invoked anti-immigrant sentiments and exaggerated potential harms from the drug, linking it to violent crime, insanity, and widespread social chaos. Under current laws, the number of annual arrests for marijuana possession has exceeded arrests for all violent crimes combined, and arrest data reveal stark racial and socioeconomic disparities. Several states have adopted laws in conflict with federal marijuana policy: 31 states (including Michigan) have comprehensive medical marijuana programs, and nine states also have authorized adult recreational use. Marijuana use is on the rise and perceptions of the danger posed by frequent marijuana use seem to be declining.
If Proposal 2018-1 passes, Michigan would establish a regulatory system for growing, processing, transporting, and selling marijuana and products containing marijuana, to which Michigan’s 6 percent sales tax and a new 10 percent excise tax would be applied. Adult use and possession of marijuana and marijuana products would be legal under state law, but still be illegal under federal law.
If Proposal 2018-1 is rejected, use and possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes would remain illegal under state law, however Michigan would maintain its current tax and regulatory system for medical marijuana.
Major Issues to Consider: Proposal 1 eliminates state-level criminality of marijuana possession and use, and might be viewed as an important step for individual liberty and/or social justice. A new marijuana regulatory system would provide consumers accurate labeling and protection from adulterants, but this system would not preclude the entry of big business into the marijuana industry nor the potential for regulatory capture, and would not necessarily guarantee the elimination of a black market. Some new tax dollars would be generated from marijuana businesses, however this revenue will not be sufficient to solve the education or transportation funding issues to which it is primarily directed. The proposal does not generate additional resources that will be needed to deal with marijuana abuse/dependence or other public health issues related to marijuana, however legalization may free up some resources currently dedicated to law enforcement, criminal justice, and corrections.
Report 403 and Memorandum 1149 ( August 2018 ) 38 pages
– Public health is a central and yet broadly misunderstood function of government that focuses on prevention of disease and injury and management of environmental factors (physical and social) that affect health. Medicine improves the health of one individual at a time; public health improves the health of entire communities.
– In recent years, the state has invested little more than what was needed to draw down federal public health funding. This leaves the state heavily reliant on diminishing federal funds. This disinvestment has affected the ability of state and local health departments to provide essential services. Michigan lags the nation in both per-capita funding for public health and measures of population health.
– Improvement may be needed for Michigan’s system of public health service delivery, fragmented between multiple state departments. A “health in all policies” approach should be adopted statewide so that every government policy (from schools to roads to criminal justice) includes assessment of associated health risks and/or benefits. State and local health departments should coordinate public health across sectors and elevate the public’s understanding of public health.
Report 402 and Memorandum 1148 ( June 2018 ) 5 and 50 pages
– The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that partisan gerrymandering is subject to judicial review, but has not accepted a standard that can be used to evaluate whether any state redistricting plan violates the U.S. Constitution.
– While the U.S. Supreme Court sent recent cases back to the district courts, it is likely new cases will attempt to set a standard for how the courts should evaluate gerrymandering.
– Michigan’s congressional and legislative district maps fail several tests that are currently being discussed to evaluate partisan gerrymandering.
Report 401 ( April 2018 ) 30 pages
– Legislative term limits in Michigan have failed to achieve their proponents’ stated goals: Ridding government of career politicians, increasing diversity among elected officials, and making elections more competitive.
– Term limits have made state legislators, especially House members, view their time as a stepping stone to another office. Term limits have failed to strengthen ties between legislators and their districts or sever cozy relationships with lobbyists. They have weakened the legislature in its relationship with the executive branch.
– The chief problem rests not with term limits, but with the fact that among the 15 states with term limits, Michigan has the shortest and strictest limits. Lengthening time in office would help, as would improving the redistricting process and reforming the primary election system.
Report 400 ( April 2018 ) 40 pages
– Most of Michigan’s residents are located in the state’s urban areas, but those urban areas comprise little of the state’s land area. Relative to the rural areas, the populations in urban communities are growing faster, have more diversity in race and ethnicity, and include more immigrants from a wider cross section of nations.
– Both rural and urban areas have wealthy and less wealthy communities. While poverty is often associated with Michigan’s core urban communities with their deep levels of poverty and need, many rural communities have low income individuals that are frequent users of food stamps and Medicaid.
– While there are some differences, such as more college graduates per capita, a greater frequency of crime per capita, and greater access to broadband Internet service in urban areas, going by the data, urban and rural Michigan have far more in common than not.
Report 1147 ( February 2018 ) 12 pages
– In Michigan, the current local government revenue structure is largely disconnected from the local economy. In Detroit the tax structure is more connected to the local economy than in other cities in the state, but many of Detroit’s revenue streams have suffered from the city’s decline. City revenue trends are not reflecting the resurgence in economic activity taking place within parts of the city and Detroit would benefit from more mechanisms to capture the renewed economic activity taking place within its boundaries.
– Many other states afford their cities and regions a number of tax options – sales, income, motor fuel, vehicle registration, alcohol, cigarette, utility users, hotel/motel, restaurant meals, vehicle rental, and entertainment/amusement – that create diverse revenue streams.
– Expanding access to local-option taxes in Detroit requires the state to authorize the city to levy more taxes, but it does not require the city the levy them. The expansion would simply provide Detroit with more options to fund city services. Ultimately, voters must decide the appropriate menu and level of services and the taxes to finance the services. Expansion of local-option taxes may be best suited to the regional level of government (e.g., Wayne County or Southeast Michigan region).
Report 399 ( February 2018 ) 80 pages
– In Michigan, the current local government revenue structure is largely disconnected from the local economy, leaving them vulnerable to macroeconomic trends and unable to provide the services needed. Communities need more mechanisms to capture the economic activity taking place within their boundaries.
– Many other states afford their local units of government a number of tax options – general and selective sales, income, transportation, various tourism, and others – to capture economic activity and to create diverse revenue streams.
– Expanding access to local-option taxes in Michigan requires the state to authorize local units to levy different taxes, but would not be levied unless acted upon by the local government and submitted to the voters for approval. Expansion of local-option taxes could be offered to cities and townships, but may be best suited to the regional level of government (e.g., counties or larger regions).
Report 398 ( December 2017 ) 44 pages
Michigan was one of several states that participated in the Medicaid expansion program that provides Medicaid health care coverage to people earning too much to qualify for conventional Medicaid coverage but not enough to afford private health insurance. This paper will examine the short history of the program.
State Budget Note 2017-01 ( November 2017 ) 13 pages
The state has been stashing away money in its Rainy Day Fund since 2011. Is that funding enough? How do Michigan’s reserves compare to the efforts in other states?
Memorandum 1146 ( September 2017 ) 12 pages
The failure of the 2016 Regional Transit Authority millage question in Southeast Michigan raised issues about governance of major regional authorities and the best methods for funding regional services such as transit. This paper explores whether special authorities with the power of taxation and the authority to direct significant federal dollars should be subject to the same one-person-one-vote requirement that affects state and local governments. (September 2017)
Report 397 ( August 2017 ) 19 pages
Although the state budget has been balanced for several years, relatively weak economic growth and a series of promises for future appropriations will strain the General Fund in future years. This paper identifies those pressures and assesses the structural balance going forward.
Memorandum 1145 ( May 2017 ) 12 pages
One year into operation of the “new” school district, it is expected that the district will finish the fiscal year with a surplus. Some of that surplus is attributed to a regional enhancement millage and one-time revenues. This paper assesses factors that could derail the district’s financial turnaround.
2017 Edition ( May 2017 ) 104 pages
2017 update of resource on Michigan tax structure.
Report 396 ( May 2017 ) 35 pages
Proposals to eliminate or cut the tax rate of the state personal income tax have garnered much news coverage for the Michigan Legislature this year. To help inform the debate on this issue, this paper reviews the history of the state income tax and the role that the income tax plays in funding Michigan’s state government (and by extension many local governments). It also looks at whether tax revenues are adequate and reviews available options if the rate is cut or the tax is eliminated.
Report 395 ( March 2017 ) 55 pages
Memorandum 1144, ( March 2017 ) 4 pages
Michigan counties providing certain services in a more efficient way could be the regional approach needed to help local city, village and township governments balance their budgets and better serve their residents according to this new report.
Report 394 ( December 2016 ) 77 pages
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan quantified the severity of lost taxable value for the general-purpose local governments in the state in this report. The slow rate of growth is evident among the individual local governments. In 2016, 85 percent of Michigan cities and townships have less taxable value than they did at their peaks before the Great Recession. Because the period just before the Great Recession includes what many perceive as an artificial inflation of property values, the Research Council also compared 2016 taxable values to the inflation-adjusted 2000 values. This comparison revealed that 16.4 percent of the cities and townships have less taxable value in 2016 than they did in 2000. These local governments are located throughout the state, but roughly half of them are located in Southeast Michigan and along the I-75 corridor. Nine counties have less tax base in 2016 than they did in 2000 when adjusting for inflation.
Memorandum 1143 ( October 2016 ) 7 pages
The question of increasing property taxes for enhanced transit services is one of the more significant questions that appeared on the 2016 ballot in four Southeast Michigan counties. To help voters understand the question before them, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has published an analysis of the question that explains the tax, describes the relatively new Regional Transit Authority (RTA), describes how revenues from the tax would supplement existing locally-raised revenues, and explores the potential impact on metropolitan Detroit.
Note 2016-01, ( October 2016 ) 4 pages
Michigan will spend nearly $100 million this year to support the education of nonpublic school students, up from $57 million just four years ago. This report documents the increased participation in “shared time” arrangements across the state – a program that allows public schools to enroll private school students in non-core classes and claim state funding.
Memo 1142, ( September 2016 ) 14 pages
This report examines the ways in which Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) can help solve many of Michigan’s healthcare issues, namely accessible and affordable healthcare. The report examines the key issues in expanding APRN practice to encompass a broader range of tasks that they are educated and trained to perform. In addition to benefits and considerations in expanding scope of practice, the report outlines the steps that policymakers could take if they choose to alter the laws that restrict APRN practice.
Memo 1141, ( June 2016 ) 13 pages
This report shows that the out-migration from Detroit and the increasing use of school choice is changing the composition of students in the Detroit Public Schools, and those changes are creating costs for educating special education students that are proportionately larger than the state average or for the charter and traditional school districts that surround Detroit.
Report 393, ( May 2016 ) 98 pages
Document was revised in July 2016 to incorporate suggested edits from program administrators
To serve interested parties in understanding of the changing landscape of early childhood financing streams, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan released a comprehensive Catalog of Early Childhood Funding in Michigan. The catalog provides a detailed, yet accessible, overview of 13 different federal and state programs that make up the core of early childhood funding in Michigan, including Head Start, child care subsidies, and Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program for pre-school children.
Memo 1140, ( May 2016 ) 12 pages
This updated interstate comparison shows that Michigan’s tax burden is now below average. After Michigan’s “lost decade” of economic malaise, the Great Recession, and a number of significant tax policy changes, 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data show that Michigan’s state and local tax burden was ranked 35 among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Michigan’s total tax burden per capita was 82 percent of the national average, and the state’s tax burden as a percent of personal income was 93 percent of the national average.
Tax Outline, ( April 2016 ) 104 pages
The Tax Outline is also a resource for understanding tax changes over the past year. After the May 2015 voter rejection of the constitutional amendment proposed to bring about increased road investment, a package of bills was enacted late in the legislative session affecting motor fuel, motor vehicle registration, and personal income taxes.
Memo 1139, ( March 2016 ) 15 pages
Since 2010 and the signing of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Michigan hospitals have seen a transformation of their finances. From Medicare rates to Medicaid expansion, federal and state changes to healthcare policy have impacted hospital revenues. This report provides an overview of the financial picture of Michigan hospitals during this period of major policy implementation.
Note 2016-01, ( March 2016 ) 10 pages
A case before the U.S. Supreme Court could have changed how House of Representatives, Senate, and Congressional districts are drawn by changing the way that the population in each district is counted. The Evenwel v. Abbott case asked whether the “one person, one vote” principle outlined in Reynolds v. Sims and the equal protection provisions set forth by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution had been too broadly interpreted to define “people” as those counted in the decennial census. The Court considered the use of an alternative measure of population, such as the citizens of voting age population (CVAP), which counts only citizens of the United States that are of voting age (at least 18 years old) and not those incarcerated or otherwise disqualified. Such a change could have had a significant impact on the political balance within certain regions of the country.
Report 392, ( February 2016 ) 166 pages
As Michigan’s economy continues its recovery from a prolonged recession, both state and local officials are renewing their focus on economic development efforts. In 2015, both policymakers and the media turned their attention to state and local efforts to attract a large Nevada-based data center campus to Grand Rapids. Flint’s water infrastructure needs and the long-term consequences of its contaminated water supply are renewing interest in the challenges of attracting and retaining businesses to this already struggling city. Throughout Michigan, municipalities, counties, and the state are constantly engaged in efforts to expand their tax bases by attracting companies to their communities.
Memo 1138, ( January 2016 ) 13 pages
Despite repeated calls from Detroit community leaders and Governor Snyder, state lawmakers closed out the legislative year without taking action to address either the financial or academic crisis facing Detroit Public Schools (DPS). This report analyzed the various debts facing the struggling school district and some of the challenges lawmakers could face in developing a plan to assist the district with debt relief.
Memo 1137, ( September 2015 ) 12 pages
Michigan lawmakers continue to work towards a permanent road funding solution amounting to at least an additional $1.2 billion annually. In legislative deliberations targeting this amount, discussions seem to be coalescing around a potential solution that combines raising new transportation tax revenue and redirecting existing state funds toward roads. This CRC report highlights that redirecting existing state dollars for roads is made more difficult by the growing amount of earmarked tax revenues and the shrinking share of discretionary resources available to policymakers.
State Budget Note 2015-1, ( August 2015 ) 13 pages
While state lawmakers continue to seek a compromise on generating additional funding for the state’s road infrastructure needs, a new report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan suggests that any final deal will not only affect roads, but have important implications for future state budgets.
Memo 1136, ( July 2015 ) 4 pages
The ballot initiative season is heating up. Special interests inside and outside of state government are researching, drafting, or circulating petitions to place statutory initiatives or constitutional amendments on the November 2016 general election ballot. CRC is calling upon state lawmakers to place on the November ballot constitutional amendments that would clean up the Michigan Constitution.
Report 391, ( July 2015 ) 26 pages
How can we know the true cost that proposed legislation would impose on Michigan’s local governments, businesses, and individuals? The report explores how Michigan’s legislative fiscal agencies might go about estimating costs for proposed legislation that is aimed at those outside of state government. In Michigan, these estimates, called fiscal notes, are critical in informing state policymakers of the true spending and revenue impacts of legislation.
CRC Notes 2015-01 ( June 2015 ) 4 pages
A number of jurisdictions have been in the news lately because new taxes will be levied as a result of judgments against each one of them. Judgment levies that were imposed recently in the Pontiac School District and are scheduled to be levied by the City of Inkster and Wayne County. Each tax increases the cumulative tax rate beyond the tax limitations in place for the jurisdictions. A new Citizens Research Council of Michigan paper, Harmonizing Judgment Levies with Tax Limitations, describes how judgment levies came to by levied in these places and calls for change that would not permit these taxes to increase the total tax rate to levels that would exceed the constitutional and statutory tax limitations.
Report 390 ( June 2015 ) 40 pages
Primary care physician shortages in some parts of the state are severe and may be compromising access to quality, affordable health care. Renewed by implementation of the Affordable Care Act and by the state’s expansion of Medicaid, concerns about primary care shortages are unabated. In a new report, Where are the Primary Care Doctors?, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan examines the primary care physician shortage data, looks at the causes for these shortages, and provides some options for policymakers to both increase the supply of primary care physicians and alleviate some of the service demand placed on these providers.
Memorandum 1135 ( April 2015 ) 8 pages
A recent report addressing the future of public education in the City of Detroit recommends that the State of Michigan assume responsibility for certain debts of Detroit Public Schools as part of a larger plan to reform governance and finance for all public schools in the city. A new Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) report, “State Assumption of School Debts,” examines the issues created by a state assumption of school debts by examining the consequences associated with previous instances where the state assumed responsibility for school debts. The CRC report urges policymakers to develop a statewide policy for dealing with school district debts, especially if the state is going to make additional resources available for such purposes.
Report 389 ( March 2015 ) 32 pages
Proposal 15-1, which will appear on the statewide ballot at a special election on May 5, 2015, has the dual objective of increasing state funding for transportation repair and maintenance and modifying the taxation of motor fuels to guarantee that all taxes paid at the pump are directed to transportation purposes. If approved by voters, the proposal would change Michigan’s tax structure to generate additional revenue for transportation infrastructure improvements as well as address the funding displacement to public schools and local governments caused by removing motor fuels from the base of the sales tax. The CRC analysis provides voters with an accessible and objective explanation of the issues surrounding the proposal and its ramifications for Michigan residents.
Memo 1133 ( March 2015 ) 9 pages
The 2015-16 legislative session is underway and the Michigan legislature is again up to the standard practice of granting immediate effect to almost every law enacted. A new Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) report examines this practice in context of the provision of the 1963 Constitution for the effective date of state laws. CRC’s analysis identifies the need for reform – either of the Constitution to reflect legislative practice or of legislative practice to reflect the Constitution.
Memo 1132 ( February 2015 ) 8 pages
Summary of Report 388
Report 388 ( February 2015 ) 70 pages
Introduction of the Governor’s budget proposal last week once again draws attention to a long-standing program of distributing state funding to local governments. Michigan’s state revenue sharing program has provided a decreasing amount of assistance to local governments over the last decade. Not only does the law fail to provide a method to distribute funds, but policymakers have been diverting funding from state revenue sharing to balance the state’s budget. This report describes the role of the revenue sharing program and provides alternatives that would provide a better foundation for the future distribution of revenue sharing dollars.
Memo 1131 ( January 2015 ) 8 pages
State policymakers have altered school funding and governance policy to fit the circumstances of the day. This new report suggests that policymakers once again need to alter state policies because of statewide declining student enrollment. The new report examines the causes, challenges, and possible state policy responses to declining student enrollment.
Joint Report ( November 2014 ) 57 pages
A new report released by CRC and Public Sector Consultants (PSC) suggests that state policymakers can make targeted investments in evidence-based programs to help ensure Michigan’s youngest children are ready to succeed when they reach kindergarten. The jointly authored report analyzed current research on early childhood programs with the goal of identifying those most likely to produce the best outcomes for Michigan’s children and for the state as a whole.
Memorandum 1130 ( October 2014 ) 7 pages
Education funding has taken a front row seat in the current political debate. Claims and counter-claims about changes in state funding for K-12 education abound. As a result, citizens are left scratching their heads about what to believe.
Memo 1129 ( September 2014 ) 8 pages
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) has released an analysis of the two statewide questions appearing on the November ballot. This analysis continues a long history of CRC providing relevant, unbiased information about statewide ballot questions to help voters make informed decisions.
Report 387 ( August 2014 ) 64 pages
As a state, Michigan has a weight problem. With almost a third of its adult population classified as obese, Michigan has one of the highest average rates of obesity in the country. This report explores why high obesity rates are a problem, the potential causes driving high rates in Michigan, and the most effective solutions at the school, local, and state levels.
Appendix A was updated on August 20 to correct a spreadsheet error. Access the revised Appendix A.
Memo 1128 ( July 2014 ) 10 pages
Proposal 1, the only statewide measure on the August 5 ballot, asks Michigan voters to approve the conversion of a portion of the state’s current use tax to a new local tax as part of a plan to reimburse local governments for the cost of recently enacted exemptions of business property from the personal property tax. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) has released its analysis of the ballot proposal to explain the ballot measure for voters.
Memo 1127 ( June 2014 ) 10 pages
Between fiscal year 2012 (FY2012) and FY2013, 85 percent of all traditional public school districts in Michigan saw their fiscal health improve or remain steady according to a new report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC), School District Fiscal Health Improves, But Some Long-Term Challenges Remain. This is a marked improvement from FY2012, when over 70 percent of traditional districts experienced increased fiscal stress and a decline in their health. The report also notes that the number of severely stressed districts (deficit districts) has hovered around 50 over the past three years, contrary to earlier warnings from state officials that the number of deficit districts could grow to 100.
Memo 1126 ( January 2014 ) 11 pages
Michigan’s recent winter storms shed light on some of the unique relationships that can exist between a local public K-12 school district and the private and religious (nonpublic) schools located with the district’s boundaries. The storms and frigid temperatures caused districts to cancel classes for a number of days, and many nonpublic schools were forced to follow suit. For some nonpublic schools, the decision to close was related to the fact that the public school district, which canceled classes, delivers educational services to, and provides transportation for, the nonpublic schools’ students.
Report 386 ( January 2014 ) 113 pages
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released a comprehensive study of the laws and procedures for getting constitutional amendments, initiatives and referendums to the ballot and bringing those questions to a vote. This study was spurred by a seeming growing sense of voter frustration with Michigan’s tools for direct democracy that was felt during the campaigns for the six questions that appeared on the November 2012 ballot.
School District Dissolutions: Another Approach to Address Local School District Fiscal Distress
Memo 1125 ( December 2013 ) 16 pages
In July, Michigan state government officials, acting under the authority of a new state law, dissolved two local school districts, resulting in the closure of all of the districts’ schools and the reassignment of the districts’ students to neighboring districts. The speedy dissolution of the Buena Vista and City of Inkster school districts came after the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with the State Treasurer, determined that the districts were no longer financially sustainable. This report examines the state’s new policy allowing for school district dissolutions and its implications for local districts and the state at-large.
Medical Costs of No-fault Automobile Insurance
Report 385 ( October 2013 ) 35 pages
The report examines how Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system is contributing to higher health care spending in the state and outlines a variety of policy options that could be implemented to reduce the insurance system’s medical costs.
Michigan’s Single-State Recession and Its Effects on Public Employment
Memo 1124 ( September 2013 ) 14 pages
Since the beginning of the 2001 recession, Michigan local government employment losses have exceeded private sector losses in percentage terms. This paper documents the changes and likely causes of public sector job losses.
Consolidation Issues Associated with the Proposed Merger of the City of the Village of Douglas and the City of Saugatuck
Report 384 ( July 2013 ) 54 pages
After performing an analysis commissioned by the City of Saugatuck and the City of the Village of Douglas, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released its findings in a new report. The analysis describes to the elected officials and citizens of these communities how the merger, which is to be voted on at the November 2013 election, would affect the operations and financing of local government.
School Aid Budget: Will FY2014 Increases Be Sustainable in FY2015?
State Budget Note 2013-02 ( July 2013 ) 8 pages
The recently enacted school aid budget provided Michigan public schools with small increases in per-pupil funding, but state policymakers may find it challenging to maintain those budget increases in FY2015, according to a new report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.
Great Start, Great Investment, Great Future: The Plan for Early Learning and Development in Michigan
Joint Report ( May 2013 ) 50 pages
A report prepared in cooperation with Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Great Start and Public Sector Consultants, this is Michigan’s comprehensive plan for early learning and development. This plan includes a look at Michigan’s current system and offers recommendations for ensuring that every Michigan child is born healthy; developmentally on track from birth through third grade; ready to succeed in school when they arrive; and reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
Funding for Public Education: The Recent Impact of Increased MPSERS Contributions
State Budget Note 2013-01 ( May 2013 ) 17 pages
Michigan public schools have seen fewer dollars remain available for classroom education in recent years as more of their revenues have been needed to meet unfunded retirement system liabilities.
Health Care Costs in Michigan: Drivers and Policy Options
Report 383 ( May 2013 ) 91 pages
In light of constantly increasing health care costs, policymakers at the state and federal levels are seeking policy options to reduce the burden for families, businesses, and governments. In 2009, Michigan families, businesses, and governments spent $65.9 billion on personal health care services and products, which is more than $6,600 per Michigan resident.
Moving Michigan Farther, Faster: Personalized Learning and the Transformation of Learning in Michigan
Joint Paper with Public Sector Consultants ( March 2013 ) 20 pages
Michigan Virtual University (MVU), a private nonprofit Michigan corporation established by the State of Michigan to serve as a champion for online learning, commissioned Public Sector Consultants (PSC) and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) to answer two questions:
- What is the future of education in Michigan?
- What role does/could technology play in that future?
Detroit City Government Revenues
Report 382 ( April 2013 ) 62 pages
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released a report analyzing the tax and other revenues available to the City of Detroit for financing city services. The report provides context for Detroit’s revenues by examining how major revenue streams have changed over time, as well as how the revenues available to city government compare with the revenues available to other large cities in Michigan.
Can Dedicated Millages and Tax Increment Financing Coexist in Michigan?
CRC Note 2013-01 ( January 2013 ) 5 pages
The Detroit Free Press ran a series of articles last week that documented Wayne County communities diverting for their own economic development purposes taxes were levied to support the Detroit Zoo. Other governmental entities have asked the state Attorney General or the courts for clarification of issues similar to those raised by the zoo officials. Now the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released a brief paper that asks: Can Dedicated Millages and Tax Increment Financing Coexist in Michigan?
Lessons from the Proposed Merger of Onekama Village with Onekama Township
Report 381 ( January 2013 ) 37 pages
For parts of 2011 and 2012, CRC worked with the residents of Onekama, a village and township in Manistee County on the shores of Lake Michigan, to investigate the possibility of disincorporating the village government. As the first community to use disincorporation provisions in the General Law Village Act that create a commission to investigate the changes that would result from merging with the township, Onekama discovered the benefits of this process and several weaknesses in the law’s provisions.
Memo 1122 ( October 2012 ) 4 pages
On November 6, 2012, Michigan voters will vote on a referendum and decide whether to amend the Michigan Constitution with five proposed amendments.
Memo 1121 ( September 2012 ) 6 pages
On November 6, 2012, Michigan voters will decide whether to amend the Michigan Constitution to add a requirement for a statewide vote before the State of Michigan constructs or finances new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles.
Memo 1120 ( September 2012 ) 6 pages
On November 6, 2012, Michigan voters will determine whether the Michigan Constitution should be amended to require either an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members serving in each chamber of the Michigan legislature (House of Representatives and Senate), or an affirmative vote of Michigan electors at a November election in order to; a) impose new state taxes, b) expand the base of a state tax, or c) increase the rate of a state tax.
Memo 1119 ( September 2012 ) 7 pages
This is an analysis of a proposed constitutional amendment to provide limited collective bargaining rights to home health care workers and to establish a Michigan Quality Home Care Council. Proposal 2012-04 will appear on the November 6, 2012 statewide ballot.
Memo 1118 ( September 2012 ) 14 pages
On November 6, 2012, Michigan voters will decide whether to amend the Michigan Constitution to require electric utilities to provide at least 25 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewable sources.
Memo 1117 ( September 2012 ) 8 pages
On November 6, 2012, Michigan voters will determine whether the state should enshrine in the Michigan Constitution collective bargaining rights for public and private sector employees.
Memo 1116 ( September 2012 ) 7 pages
On November 6, 2012, Michigan voters will determine whether Public Act 4 of 2011, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act, will be repealed.
Memo 1115 ( September 2012 ) 4 pages
Following the ruling of the Michigan Supreme Court this week, Michigan electors are in line to vote on five proposed constitutional amendments at the November 6, 2012, general election dealing with matters of renewable energy, unionization of home health care workers, collective bargaining, state tax limitation, and international crossings. A review of the proposed amendments reveals that several are quite lengthy, go into substantial technical detail, and deal with issues that would be found in statutory law, not in the constitutions, of most states.
Report 380 ( July 2012 ) 50 pages
A flurry of legislative activity in 2011, both in Michigan and in other states, addressed teacher tenure and public sector collective bargaining. This report describes the Michigan reforms and places changes in Michigan statutes in the context of history and of changes occurring in other states.
Memo 1114 ( July 2012 ) 4 pages
On Monday, July 9, the newly formed board of the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy signed an agreement with a charter school operator to provide all educational services to all of the Muskegon Heights School District beginning in fall 2012. This action effectively converts the entire school district to a charter school, which is part of the plan crafted by the emergency manager appointed under Public Act 4 of 2011 to simultaneously address the district’s lingering financial deficits and ensure the necessary educational services are provided to the children in the district. As identified in CRC’s June report, State Bailouts to Erase School District Accumulated Deficits, this plan will result in additional state funds being provided to the district to help eliminate the past deficit.
State Budget Note 2012-03 ( July 2012 ) 10 pages
Governor Snyder signed the $49 billion fiscal year 2013 (FY2013) state budget on Tuesday, June 26. Tucked within the various appropriation line items and the related controlling provisions of the FY2013 budget is the second year of a policy shift in how the state shares its financial resources with sub-state entities – K-12 school districts and local governments. The main thrust of the shift requires these entities to engage in certain behaviors as a condition of receiving state dollars, as opposed to the previous practice of sharing state resources without “strings” attached.
Memo 1113 ( June 2012 ) 5 pages
Beginning in the fall of 2012 all educational services in the Muskegon Heights School District will be turned over to a charter school operator and the District will no longer be involved in the direct provision of such services under a plan proposed by the state-appointed emergency manager. This plan would be implemented under Public Act 4 of 2011. As part of this “charter conversion” plan, the District’s multi-year accumulated operating deficit, projected to be $12 million as of June 30, 2012, effectively will be eliminated through a state bailout.
Report 379 ( June 2012 ) 39 pages
While Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election may be grabbing headlines this week, the reality is that recall is much more common in Michigan than in Wisconsin. A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, Michigan’s Recall Election Law provides an in-depth examination of this topic and looks at trends in Michigan’s use of recall, state law, and how Michigan’s recall provisions vary from other states.
State Budget Note 2012-02 ( May 2012 ) 7 pages
Recently, the framework for next year’s state budget (fiscal year 2013) began to take shape when both legislative chambers passed their respective spending plans. Eyeing a June 1 deadline, both chambers have offered their responses to Governor Snyder’s Executive Budget issued in February. Both legislative proposals reduce the General Fund appropriation recommendation included in the Executive Budget. Although the proposals share some key similarities, there are key differences in a number of areas, including funding for K-12 education.
Memo 1112 ( April 2012 ) 10 pages
Citizens Research Council is pleased to announce the publication of a new report on the financial organization and structure the City of Detroit municipal government. This report is part of a series occasioned by the cityï¿½s narrowly averted cash crisis, by state intervention under Public Act 4 of 2011 and the adoption of a consent agreement establishing a Financial Advisory Board, and by continuing efforts to find effective solutions to intractable municipal problems.
Report 378 ( March 2012 ) 65 pages
K-12 education and school funding have become perennial public policy issues discussed at local school board meetings, community and parent gatherings, and throughout the halls of the state Capitol. With respect to financial matters, debate often focuses on the near-term – budgets and funding decisions for the current and next years. However, this very important topic requires thoughtful debate that must consider the long-term perspective.
Note 2012-02 ( March 2012 ) 4 pages
As Detroit and Michigan officials work to resolve the financial crisis facing this stateï¿½s largest city, it may be instructive to revisit a similar situation: the 1975 financial crisis in New York City. Comparing the factors that led to the crisis, the negotiations, and the structure that was put in place to resolve the crisis and place New York City firmly on the road to financial recovery and sound budgeting and financial management may help in assessing the stateï¿½s efforts to ensure a viable future for Detroit.
Note 2012-01 ( March 2012 ) 2 pages
The City of Detroit has projected that it may run out of cash in May.
As the 30 day extension of the Review Team’s allotted time to evaluate the financial condition of Detroit city government neared its end without agreement on a plan that could prevent appointment of an emergency manager, State Treasurer Andy Dillon delivered a proposed draft consent agreement to the state appointed Review Team and the Mayor on March 12th.
Report 377 ( March 2012 ) 34 pages
The second in a miniseries on teachers and teaching, Education Reform: Teacher Performance Management Systems confirms the importance of good teaching and the challenges associated with systems that have been used to, and will in the future, measure the quality of teachers. Historically, teacher evaluations found nearly all teachers to be satisfactory or better, even in districts with very low student performance. Parents and policymakers are increasingly demanding that teachers be evaluated using measures of student achievement gains.
Report 376 ( February 2012 ) 88 pages
Nearly 1 in every 5 Michigan residents is currently enrolled in Medicaid – a state operated medical insurance program for low income individuals and families that is co-financed by the state and federal governments. Because of the state’s nearly decade long recession beginning in Fiscal Year 2002, demand for this program increased, growing enrollment nearly 60 percent. In the current fiscal year, over 15 percent of Michigan’s spending from state sources is appropriated to Medicaid, up from less than ten percent a decade ago and despite a nearly 16 percent decline in real total state spending from state sources. As a result, while Medicaid’s budget increased 30 percent in inflation adjusted terms, most other state budget areas declined: revenue sharing for local governments (-47.0 percent); higher education (-45.4 percent); community colleges (-25.7 percent); human services (-21.3 percent); K-12 school aid (-21.2 percent); and corrections (-2.3 percent).
State Budget Note 2012-01 ( February 2012 ) 5 pages
While the State of Michigan’s final audited figures for Fiscal Year 2011 are not complete, recent evidence suggests that state policymakers have reversed course over the past five years and have taken steps to address the state’s once very weak cash position. The report documents the recent improvements in the state’s cash position, and urges lawmakers to continue to maintain a focus on this important indicator of the state’s overall financial health.
Memo 1111 ( February 2012 ) 18 pages
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released its analysis of recently released U.S. Census Bureau state and local government finance data. The Census data allow for easy comparisons of tax burdens across the 50 states. This publication provides historical and interstate comparisons of tax revenues.
Report 375 ( January 2012 ) 113 pages
This report examines the people, places, and governments in Lenawee County to identify opportunities for consolidation or collaboration among the local governments. The report, which considers existing service delivery and expenditure patterns, suggests services for which the communities might benefit by collaborating for their provision. The report was conducted at the request of One Lenawee, a citizen-led community development initiative that seeks to make Lenawee County a more desirable place to live, locate a business, and visit.
Report 374 ( January 2012 ) 42 pages
This paper examines teacher training both before and after certification and employment. Recent research demonstrates the importance of teachers to student success: a teacher one standard deviation above the mean can increase the present value of future earnings of a class of 20 by $400,000 each year. Similarly, replacing the lowest performing 5 to 8 percent of teachers with average teachers would increase overall economic growth significantly.
Report 373 ( December 2011 ) 29 pages
Both the Mayor of Detroit and the Governor of Michigan have expressed concerns over Detroit’s precarious financial position. The Mayor has indicated that the city may run out of cash early next year, and there is a significant risk that an emergency manager will be appointed to oversee the city’s finances. Balancing Detroit’s budget is made more difficult by the significant indebtedness and legacy costs of the city. This report is an analysis of the city’s current obligations to bond holders, retirees, and others. The city had in excess of $14.1 billion of such liabilities outstanding as of June 30, 2010.
Note 2011-02 ( November 2011 ) 3 pages
Last week, Governor Snyder proposed replacing the state’s current 19 cent per gallon tax on gasoline with a tax based on a percentage of the price at the wholesale level. Michigan last increased its gasoline tax in 1997, when the rate was increased from 15 cents. Both inflation and a decrease in miles driven have reduced the purchasing power of the state’s gas tax. While the proposal is for the percentage tax to be revenue neutral when enacted, the Governor has argued that the new tax is a more viable approach to funding roads and bridges, and that over the long run it will better maintain its purchasing power.
Memo 1110 ( October 2011 ) 18 pages
Voters in Detroit will have the opportunity to approve or reject a proposed new city charter on November 8.
City charters establish the basic structure of the municipal government and define critical processes of elections, budgeting, accounting, and planning, within constraints established in state law. Charters may also mandate city departments and programs. The challenge inherent in charter development is achieving the proper balance between the relatively permanent charter mandates and the latitude needed by local officials to make government efficient, effective, and responsive under changing conditions.
Report 372 ( October 2011 ) 65 pages
CRC’s study was commissioned through the Shared Public Services Initiative, a collaborative project involving local, state and non-profit organizations administered through the Michigan Municipal League Foundation. CRC was asked to explain the merger options and to analyze the costs and benefits of consolidating the Village of Onekama and the Township of Onekama in Manistee County. Even while CRC was studying the issues and preparing its analysis, the community was working with Eric Lupher, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan’s Director of Local Affairs, to learn about the possibilities and implications of consolidating the two governments.
Memo 1108 ( September 2011 ) 12 pages
Local governments have less than a month to create citizens’ guides to financial information and performance dashboards to qualify for state funding through the new Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP). CRC’s new paper, Local Government Performance Dashboards and Citizens’ Guides, offers guidelines and recommendations to help local governments make the guides and dashboards meaningful tools that will keep residents better engaged in the operations and financial condition of their local governments.
Report 371 ( August 2011 ) 87 pages
Proposal A of 1994 and the related school finance reforms met many of their initial goals, most notably greater equalization of per-pupil funding across Michigan districts. While the wide variance in revenues per pupil was a public policy problem that plagued the state for many years prior to Proposal A, the prescription to this problem has created new issues. Distribution of State Aid to Michigan Schools identifies a number of important issues that policymakers should consider when contemplating changes to Michigan’s school funding model.
State Budget Note 2011-02 ( July 2011 ) 13 pages
With Governor Snyder’s signing of the FY2012 state budget on June 21, the final piece of the state’s new fiscal plan is now officially in place. The plan was crafted against a backdrop of an improving state economy and growing state revenues, in part making it easier to complete in a timely fashion. It consists of: 1) a revamped state tax structure, 2) a spending plan that balances ongoing spending and resources mainly through significant appropriation reductions; 3) a down payment on future long-term obligations; and 4) a deposit in the state’s rainy day fund. Major pieces of the plan will come on-line in the fall, including the budget on October 1, while many of the tax changes take effect on January 1, 2012.
Report 370 ( May 2011 ) 45 pages
Michigan’s legislature currently has a relatively free hand in the redistricting process. Language establishing a redistricting process in Michigan’s Constitution has been ruled invalid by the Michigan Supreme Court. Without a constitutional framework, the legislature can rewrite statutory guidelines as part of the redistricting process. The only redistricting restrictions on the legislature are the limited constraints contained in the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.
State Budget Note 2011-01 ( May 2011 ) 6 pages
Recently, the framework for the upcoming state budget began to take shape when both chambers of the Michigan legislature passed their respective spending plans. Eyeing a May 31 deadline set by Governor Snyder, both chambers have offered their responses to the Executive Budget issued in February. The Senate was the first chamber to complete its work on the Fiscal Year 2012 (FY2012) state budget when, in late April, it approved all operating appropriation bills financed by the General and School Aid Funds. This action was closely followed by the House of Representative’s approval of all appropriations bills in early May. The two plans for the General Fund share some key similarities; however, the Senate’s plan spends $179 million, or 2 percent, more than the House’s budget and the two recommendations differ in other substantial and material ways.
Report 369 ( May 2011 ) 72 pages
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan is pleased to announce the publication of Reform of K-12 School District Governance and Management in Michigan. Both the federal government and Michigan’s state government have been encouraging, and in some cases actively mandating, governance reforms. Michigan recently enacted legislation mandating governance changes in the state’s “persistently lowest achieving schools,” and on April 27th Governor Snyder called for a number of governance changes including a move toward a P-20 system of education. The interest in reform comes from dissatisfaction with the educational outcomes in some districts, increasing financial pressures faced by schools, and the belief that governance reforms can improve outcomes.
Report 368 and Memorandum 1106 ( April 2011 ) 35 pages
Many Michigan local governments and school districts are facing significant financial stress. Declining revenues, reductions in state aid, and rapidly increasing healthcare and retirement costs are creating huge challenges for local governments and school districts. Many local governments appear to be on the brink of a financial emergency.
Report 367 and Memorandum 1105 ( March 2011 ) 40 pages
The quality of care of young children reflects the values of the larger community, and can have a lasting impact on children’s success in school and life. There are tens of thousands of individuals and organizations that provide child care in Michigan, and these providers vary drastically in quality. State government has defined a role in regulating, licensing, organizing, and in some cases funding, the multitude of child care providers.
Note 2011-01 ( February 2011 ) 16 pages
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the budget problems facing Michigan governments cannot be adequately addressed until the cost of health care benefits for governmental employees is confronted,” says Eric Lupher, CRC’s Director of Local Affairs. To help understand the magnitude of the problem and the actions that are being taken to address it, CRC’s newest paper looks at just one type of local government: counties
Report 366 and Memorandum 1104 ( February 2011 ) 77 pages
High quality early childhood education and preschool programs that implement best practices have been shown to improve school success and graduation rates for disadvantaged children. A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, Early Childhood Education, describes programs that invest in the “front end” of formal education: kindergarten, Head Start, and Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program. It also describes research on brain development that helps to explain why investing in early education may be a more effective strategy than other strategies that are being pursued.
Memorandum 1103 ( January 2011 ) 10 pages
Michigan’s prolonged economic recession is creating fiscal stress for many local governments and causing city government officials to seek alternative revenue sources. Michigan law has authorized local-option income taxes for city governments since the 1960s, but only 22 cities have chosen to levy this tax. CRC has released a new paper to explain how city income taxes work, analyze the history of the cities levying this tax, and investigate the incentives and disincentives municipal policy makers may wish to consider relative to imposition of this tax.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Report 362 and Memorandum 1099 ( April 2010 ) 38 pages
“A number of local government officials in fiscally distressed communities have in recent months used the terms ‘bankruptcy’ and ‘receivership.’ Use of these words may express the level of concern those officials have, or wish to convey, about the financial condition of their communities, but they are not particularly accurate or appropriate in the context of Michigan local government,” according to Senior Research Associate Bettie Buss.
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.
State Budget Note 2010-01 ( February 2010 ) 7 pages
The FY2011 Executive Budget: “Deja Vu All Over Again”, 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.
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.