House Appropriations Passes New EVIP Proposal and Formula

Yesterday afternoon the House Appropriations Committee reported its recommendations for the general government budget that includes the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP).

Under this proposal category 1, the dashboard, would remain in effect without change. Category 2 would require 5 percent of the second EVIP payment to be committed to road construction or preservation. Category 3 would require 5 percent of the payment to be committed to unfunded liabilities. The language further says that a community that receives less than $50,000 in EVIP funding would not have to comply with the EVIP requirements.

In addition the House proposes changing how EVIP funds are distributed. A local unit would receive a 1 percent increase if they were eligible for payment in the current fiscal year or $7.14609 per capita, whichever is greater. The per capita formula would add include hundreds of additional communities to the formula without regard to service provision.

The League has significant concerns about this language and its disregard for both local control in spending and distribution to communities who provide services. We will continue to work on language that helps invest in communities who provide essential services and does not penalize them by requiring that they spend money as the legislature dictates. Contact your legislators and urge them to oppose these changes.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

House Appropriations Committee Votes out Transportation Budget

The House Appropriations Committee voted out HB 5313 which included the transportation budget today by a vote 19-0 with all Democrats abstaining. Adjustments we made to the budget to reflect the changes that Speaker Bolger is proposing to increase funding to roads. As a result $391 million in general fund dollars will be appropriated to the transportation budget.

Many of the details are yet to be worked out and the League continues to have concerns about the use of general fund dollars supporting an increase in road funding. This budget also represents an increase in funding that still falls significantly short of the actual increase needed to support our transportation system. We hope to work with the Speaker and others on this issue to provide a long term funding solution that meets the infrastructure needs of this state.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

House Transportation Committee Takes Testimony on Speaker Bolger’s Road Funding Plan

The House Transportation Committee took testimony today from Speaker Bolger on his $450 million road funding plan.

The plan focused on four specific subject areas: increasing efficiencies, improving quality, improving fairness and investing current resources. That’s different from other plans that have focused on tax increases to improve the state’s roads.

The proposal includes ending the 19 cents per gallon tax on gasoline and 15 cents per gallon tax on diesel fuel and replacing them with a 6 percent tax on the price of fuel at the wholesale level. This would be a revenue neutral change for gasoline and raise $47 million in new revenue from those buying diesel fuel.

The proposal also includes efficiency measures such as more competitive bidding for local road agencies and the Department of Transportation and requiring all projects more than $5 million to have a minimum five-year warranty.

The plan would also increase fees on permits for overweight and oversize trucks, a move that would raise $4.5 million.

The Michigan Municipal League believes that one of the most important aspects of creating a vibrant state is to have a quality transportation system. Unfortunately an additional $450 million annually falls far short of solving this problem long term. We hope to work with the Speaker and others on this issue to provide a long term funding solution that meets the infrastructure needs of this state.

The following link is a document made available by the House Republicans to help illustrate their plan.

Building Roads 4-14       

The League will continue to update our members on the specifics of this plan as more details become available.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

New CRC Report Further Proof that Michigan’s Municipal Finance System is Broken

The Michigan Municipal League released a media statement today about a new report from the Citizens Research Council showing that state tax revenues increased by $1.2 billion from 2009 to 2012, while local tax revenues declined by $1.1 billion in the same time period.

Here is a portion of our statement from League President and Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan, which can also be viewed here:

This is further proof that the state has balanced its budget on the backs of local communities while at the same time placing additional requirements, stipulations and bureaucratic red tape on local governments in the form of the cumbersome and problematic Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP).

“Simply put, these findings are an outrage,” said Noonan. “The state continues to divert revenue sharing away from local governments while the state’s surplus grows to nearly a billion dollars. After taking our money, the state then has the audacity to criticize Michigan’s cities and villages for not operating efficiently. It would be like someone taking money out of your wallet and then a day later penalizing you for not having any money. The partnership between state and local governments is broken, and it’s time to fix it.”

The Michigan Municipal League calls on the Legislature to fix the broken partnership between the state and communities and to work together to create the places where people want to live, work, play and create jobs.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org and (734) 669-6317.

Governor Proposes Plan to Increase Recycling Access

Yesterday the Governor announced a proposal to double the state’s recycling rate over the next two years.  The proposal is intended to increase the state’s current 15 percent recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017.

The initiative focuses on several important pieces including benchmarking progress, education and technical assistance for communities, ensuring convenient access to recycling and developing market opportunities for recycled products.

The League was part stakeholder groups working through this issue in the last year. We are supportive of incentives to help local communities increase recycling access, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Environmental Quality to help our communities reach these goals.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

International Downtown Association (IDA) Midwest Forum to be held in Downtown Grand Rapids

The International Downtown Association (IDA) will be holding their Midwest Forum in Downtown Grand Rapids May 5-6, 2014.  The conference has been designed to be distinctly different and memorable.  Attendees won’t be stuck inside convention and meeting spaces – they’ll be moving between six progressive topical sessions held inside the offices and intuitions that are collectively working to build and rethink the Grand Rapids community.  The focus will be issues and opportunities facing Downtowns that include talent attraction, innovative public engagement, growing support for local businesses, positioning arts and creative institutions to change the cultural landscape, transformative projects and techniques, and much more…

To explore these topics, a lineup of more than 20 speakers has been assembled, including:

See all the detail and the full list of speakers here.

Registration is only $175…

Questions? Contact David Downey (ddowney@ida-downtown.org) or Debbie Young (dyoung@ida-downtown.org) of IDA.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

 

Renowned Hillsdale Economist Calls for State to Restore Funds to Locals

Renowned economist and Hillsdale College Professor Dr. Gary Wolfram has released a report calling on the state to commit to restoring state revenue sharing dollars and remove restraints on road funding enacted in the PA 51 funding formula.

The report indicates that statutory revenue sharing is still 26 percent lower than it should be despite nominal increases in the last few years. Dr. Wolfram also emphasizes the challenges communities face in the ability to raise revenue because property tax growth is capped by 5 percent or the rate of inflation whichever is less.

You can view Dr. Wolfram’s report here: Wolfram report

We appreciate this well researched take on the status of municipal finance in Michigan. Last month the League released The Great Revenue Sharing Heist which emphasizes the significant financial impact $6.2 billion in revenue sharing cuts has had on our communities.

Dr. Wolfram concludes that it should be a priority of the state to “restore its commitment to its local governments. In particular, it should use some of the projected surplus to return revenue sharing to full statutory funding. It should also remove constraints on local governments in Act 51 that limit their ability to maintain local roads.” We could not agree more, Dr. Wolfram.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

Personal Property Tax Ballot Campaign Kicks Off

This week the campaign to pass the August 5, 2014 ballot proposal, the last step in personal property tax (PPT) reform, kicked off with a series of press conferences. The Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities coalition is seeking to pass a ballot referendum that would allow for use of a portion of the currently collected statewide use tax to fully reimburse communities for PPT loss.

League members attended and led press conferences in Dearborn, Flint, Saginaw and Traverse City.

The coalition has launched a website and you can also follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

We encourage members to support the full replacement of PPT dollars with a significantly more stable reimbursement mechanism by voting “yes” on August 5.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

Legislature In District Until Late April

The legislature is on spring break until late April. The House is scheduled to be in next on Thursday, April 17. The Senate is scheduled to be back the week of April 22.

In the interim the lobbying team is still hard at work with legislative and administration staff on various issues including (but not even close to limited to) EVIP, transportation funding and tax capture district reform. Happy Spring!

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

Speaker Bolger Unveils New Michigan Transportation Funding Plan

A new plan from House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) would increase the state’s annual investment in its roadways by at least $500 million annually.

Unveiled today, the plan would do that, in part, by converting the state’s flat gas tax to a tax based on a percentage of the wholesale price and by dedicating some current sales tax and use tax revenue to transportation needs.

The plan focused on four specific subject areas: increasing efficiencies, improving quality, improving fairness and investing current resources. That’s different from other plans that have focused on tax increases to improve the state’s roads.

The proposal includes ending the 19 cents per gallon tax on gasoline and 15 cents per gallon tax on diesel fuel and replacing them with a 6 percent tax on the price of fuel at the wholesale level. This would be a revenue neutral change for gasoline and raise $47 million in new revenue from those buying diesel fuel.

The proposal also includes efficiency measures such as more competitive bidding for local road agencies and the Department of Transportation and requiring all projects more than $5 million to have a minimum five-year warranty.

The plan would also increase fees on permits for overweight and oversize trucks, a move that would raise $4.5 million.

The Michigan Municipal League believes that one of the most important aspects of creating a vibrant state is to have a quality transportation system. Unfortunately an additional $500 million annually falls far short of solving this problem long term. We hope to work with the Speaker and others on this issue to provide a long term funding solution that meets the infrastructure needs of this state without potentially putting local funds in jeopardy.

The following links are two documents made available by the House Republicans to help illustrate their plan.

Building Roads 4-14          Road Funding board

The League will continue to update our members on the specifics of this plan as more details become available.

John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation and infrastructure issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.