Once upon a time in a land far, far, away….Oh wait wrong fairly tale. What am I talking about? The fact that not too long ago the provision ofr services in Michigan used to be a shared responsibility between state government and local government. But, over the past decade or more what we have seen is a devolving of those responsibilities to primarily locals as the state has used nearly $5 billion meant for locals to fill its own budget hole. As a result we’ve seen locals layoff police and fire personnel, close parks and libraries, and put off much need upgrades to important infrastructure such as local streets and sewers. At the same time, getting state government (governors and legislators) to come together on the need for additional revenues has been virtually impossible. Take additional revenues to help fix our roads and bridges and support transit alternatives. Even with federal dollars at stake, the legislature can’t seem to find a way to agree to something…anything that would bring such areas into the 21st century.
And yet, at the local level, residents are passing millage after millage to support any number of services. As a matter of fact at the August election, 90% of all local millages were approved. This included 100% of all public transit millage requests! The story has been the same the past couple of years. In the August 2010 election, 86% of all millages were approved and in May of 2011 more than 80% were adopted.
So what’s the deal in the halls of Lansing or Washington? Clearly, local voters are more than willing to support additional revenues for items when the case is made for specific services that add to our quality of life. Lets just be sure that the next time we hear a state legislator say the public is against raising taxes to remind them of the reality.