Governor Presents Final Budget Recommendation

Governor Snyder presented the FY2019 state budget to a joint hearing of the House and Senate Appropriations committees Wednesday morning.  Matching his tone following January’s consensus revenue estimating conference and his comments about spending restraint during the recent State of the State address, the budget didn’t offer many surprises.

The key announcement for League members centered on his proposal for revenue sharing.

Constitutional revenue sharing payments are expected to grow, based upon sales tax growth, to the tune of 3.1% ($24.7 M) in the coming budget.

The Governor did not recommend a continuation of the 2.5% statutory revenue sharing increase that we were able to secure in the current budget, taking this $243 million appropriation back down to a level that has been flat over the previous four years.

Instead of increasing statutory revenue sharing through the traditional budget process, the Governor is building off of his comments from last year’s budget on the distribution of excess Personal Property Tax reimbursements.  The Governor has called for a simpler and fairer approach to the distribution of those excess reimbursements and emphasized the need to continue providing that support to local units of government.

His recommendation would maintain the apportion of PPT reimbursement revenue going to each type of local unit of government and have that revenue instead distributed by the Local Community Stabilization Authority to communities as an additional revenue sharing payment.  This would amount to a $73 million revenue sharing distribution to cities and villages.

Additionally, the Governor is proposing to use the excess reimbursement dollars that had gone to libraries and miscellaneous authorities to preserve and increase fire protection grant funding to local units with qualifying state or higher education facilities.

Other line items or programs of interest to local units of government included:

Adding $175M of one-time General Fund to go with the $150M already scheduled to go into roads as part of the previous road funding pkg

Adding $2M to continue and expand Project Rising Tide

Building in the $79M from his previously proposed solid waste tipping fee increase to support brownfield site contamination cleanups, water and beach monitoring and other environmental programs that had previously been supported by the former Clean MI Initiative bond proceeds.

The budget will now be reviewed by each chamber over the coming weeks, with initial action expected prior to the Spring/Easter Break.

For more details on today’s budget announcement –

PowerPoint Presentation – (slide 24 relates to revenue sharing/PPT excess)

Issue Papers –  pages 31-32 detail the revenue sharing/PPT proposal

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and

Governor Continues Week of Policy Announcements

Following Governor Snyder’s eighth and final State of the State speech last week, his team has immediately moved into announcement mode, capitalizing on the initiatives he announced during his January 23rd speech to the Legislature.

A new announcement is planned for each day this week, in advance of next Wednesday’s (Feb 7th) FY 2018-19 state budget presentation.

On Monday, the Governor signed Executive Order 2018-2 in Port Huron, promoting the expansion of broadband internet service.  This E.O. creates a new state-level commission, the Michigan Consortium of Advanced Networks, to advise the Governor on the state’s broadband infrastructure needs, identifying gaps in coverage and capacity and recommending solutions for state and private sector investment to bridge those gaps.

On Tuesday, the Governor announced his Renew MI plan as a replacement for the former Clean Michigan Initiative bond program.  This $675 million bond program, approved by the state’s voters in the late ’90s, is nearly tapped of remaining bond capacity, so the Governor is proposing an increase in landfill tipping fees as a replacement for that bond revenue to avoid adding to the state’s long-term debt liabilities.  This new proposal would increase the tipping fee from the current .36/ton to $4.75/ton as a way to bring in an estimated $79 million per year to clean up contaminated sites, invest in recycling programming, assist with local solid waste management planning, and support ongoing water quality monitoring efforts at beaches, lakes, and rivers.

Wednesday’s announcement centers around efforts to curb invasive species, like Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes.  On Thursday, the Governor is expected to announce his plans for investment in the state’s water infrastructure systems.  Finally, on Friday he is scheduled to detail his specific proposals for improving the state’s recycling efforts.

League staff have participated in briefings on these announcements and are reviewing the available information and awaiting the forthcoming announcements to determine the various impacts on local governments.  We will share additional details as the remaining initiatives are announced later this week.

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and

Legislative Highlights To Kick Off The New Year

OPEB – Since the passage of the OPEB package, Treasury has been working with our staff to develop the reporting requirements necessary to begin implementing the new law. That reporting guidance was recently published, with an initial deadline for municipalities to respond by the end of January. Additional guidance is yet to be developed by Treasury on the waiver and corrective action plan processes. The League will continue working with the Department to ensure that the new law is implemented in a thoughtful and efficient way.

Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference – The main event for the first week following the holiday recess was the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference on Thursday. The final consensus on revenues didn’t reveal anything unexpected—maintaining steady, slow growth for the coming years—and these numbers will serve as a baseline for the Governor’s upcoming budget presentation in early February.

Federal and State Income Tax Conflicts – One item that is virtually guaranteed to be addressed this month is the purported conflict between the recently passed federal income tax reform and Michigan’s state income tax personal exemption. The Governor is proposing to amend the existing state income tax personal exemption to ensure that the changes at the federal level do not cause an additional tax burden on residents at the state level. In addition to maintaining the existing state personal exemption, the Administration’s proposal would increase the personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,500 in three years.

Both the House and Senate are now moving competing proposals to expand on the opening the Governor has provided, with  the Senate moving Senate Bill 748 unanimously over to the House to expand the personal exemption to $4700 by 2020 and increasing the inflationary factor for years beyond 2020 up to a reported $5000. A companion bill that will move next week would also create a child/dependent tax credit similar to the feds.  Combined, these senate bills (SB 748-750) are estimated to reduce state tax revenue by approximately $225-250 million when fully phased in.

The House proposal was just introduced this week, as well.  House Bills 5420-22 would also preserve the existing state personal exemption and then expand the exemption beyond the Governor’s proposal, to $4800 for tax year 2020 and beyond.  Additionally, the House proposal includes a separate bill that would provide a $100 refundable tax credit for seniors above 62 years of age.  Combined, the House package would reduce state revenues by approximately $350 million.

Both packages also include a technical amendment to the Uniform City Income Tax Act to prevent any similar conflict with the personal exemption elimination at the federal level.

The State Treasurer and Budget Director have both cautioned against additional tax relief as the state already has over $2 billion in tax cuts still scheduled to take effect and other budget pressures, like road funding and Medicaid cost increases that will consume all of the state’s expected revenue growth for the foreseeable future. Conversations between the Governor, Speaker and Senate Majority Leader continue as they negotiate on a final amount of tax relief and under which format. We should know more by next week.

Veto Override – In a surprising move, both the House and Senate voted this week to override the Governor’s veto of the acceleration of the sales tax on the difference proposal for trading in used cars or boats.  This override vote comes just as the Detroit International Auto Show is set to debut and is the first override of a Governor’s veto in 16 years and only the fourth in modern history.

Senate Bills 94 & 95 move the currently scheduled phase out from 2039 to 2029 at a cost the House Fiscal Agency estimates at $300 million spread out over the coming years. Gov. Snyder had originally vetoed these bills, calling the proposal “not fiscally prudent” given the budget pressures the state faces in the next few years..

Both chambers voted overwhelmingly to override this veto on Wednesday, with the Senate’s override vote being unanimous.  Interestingly, the last veto override was one that was championed by the League to restore former Governor Engler’s veto of revenue sharing in 2002.

State of the State – The Governor will present his final State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature on Jan. 23. Infrastructure and talent development are themes he is likely to continue promoting.

Events – The State & Federal Affairs and Member Engagement teams will be joining League member communities at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference in March.  Registration for this conference is still open and members are encouraged to sign up and help share our message with Michigan’s congressional delegation.  The State & Federal Affairs team will also be providing legislative updates around the state this month, presenting to the South Oakland Mayors Association, the Michigan Municipal Treasurers Association Winter Workshop, the Michigan Municipal Executives Winter Institute, and at the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys winter retreat.  Team members are also serving as panelists talking medical marijuana at an event hosted by Saginaw Future, Inc. and meeting with the Portland Downtown Development Authority this month.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and

House Considering Bill Limiting Millage Elections

The House Elections committee has posted a hearing for next week on House Bill 4814 (Albert).  This bill would limit all local governments to only being able to offer a millage question on the November General Election date.  Originally scheduled to be brought up tomorrow morning, the chairman subsequently agreed to postpone consideration for a week.  This bill is now scheduled to be up in front of the committee on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 10:30 am.  League staff will be testifying in opposition to the bill at this hearing.

We have been informed that alternate language is being considered that would allow millage questions on any August or November election, as opposed to the original version limiting these questions to November even-year elections.  Even with such a change, we remain opposed to any further restriction on election access.  Election consolidation already establishes three specific dates annually that are available for ballot questions and election law limits a local unit from bringing a question back in front of the voters repeatedly.  This proposal is drafted to take effect immediately (any millage question after 12/31/17), disrupting plans for May elections or renewals that are already in process and jeopardizing funding for key local programs and operations.  Limiting when these questions can be considered by local voters also ignores the existing expiration and scheduling of current local millages and will only serve to lengthen ballots for no legitimate public purpose.

Please take a moment and call your State Representative and the members of the House Elections committee to express your opposition to this intrusion on local control.  Thank you for your assistance!

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and

Treasury Announces Regional Training Opportunities

Treasury shared the following information earlier today on training opportunities they have scheduled in communities throughout the state.  Interested local officials are encouraged to participate.

The Michigan Department of Treasury is pleased to announce the development and implementation of a one day course titled Understanding the Basics of Assessing for Local Unit Officials. This one day course will be offered free of charge to any Local Unit Official who wants to learn a little bit more about assessing and the Audit of Minimum Assessing Requirements (AMAR) process. We currently have scheduled 7 sessions at various locations throughout the State.


Sign up for the program is through Eventbrite using one of the links below. Space is limited so we suggest you sign up early!


Green Oak Township April 27, 2018:


Marquette Township May 9, 2018:


Fruitport Township May 17, 2018:


Gaylord May 18, 2018:


Big Rapids June 14, 2018:


Marquette Township July 11, 2018:


Howell August 6, 2018:


Questions regarding the training can be directed to Kelli Sobel at

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and

New Pension/OPEB Reporting Requirement Released

Following the year-end passage of pension/OPEB legislation that implements the recommendations of Governor Snyder’s Responsible Retirement Reform task force report, Treasury released late today the reporting requirement documentation which ended up as the main component of Public Act 202 of 2017.

This afternoon’s Treasury announcement is included in Numbered Letter 2018-1: Local Government Retirement System Annual Report. This guidance includes links to a fillable reporting template (Form No. 5572), detailed instructions, and frequently asked questions.  Each of the documents can also be found on Treasury’s Local Retirement Reporting web page.

Under this new law, the linked pension and retiree health care reporting is due six months after the end of a local unit’s fiscal year. For those that have already filed their 2017 audited financial statements, this new report is due by Jan. 31, 2018.

Additional information from Treasury is expected in the coming weeks regarding “underfunded status” waivers and the corrective action plan process under the still-to-be-established stability board.

Communities are encouraged to direct questions via email to their office at or visit

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and

Year-End Legislative Wrap-Up

While last week’s House and Senate adjournment merely marks the mid-point of this two-year legislative session, that did not mean that the Legislature coasted into their holiday break.

Highlighted by the intense activity surrounding OPEB reform, both legislative chambers pursued aggressive agendas in the final days before adjourning.  Numerous bills that the League was tracking and engaged with experienced some measure of action:

The now 13-bill OPEB package was signed by Governor Snyder this week as Public Acts 202-214 of 2017 and takes effect immediately.  New reporting requirements under the bill are expected to be phased in over the next year, with some reporting expected due as early as January 31, 2018.  The League will work to update member communities as more information becomes available in the next couple of weeks.

Senate Bill 110 clarifies that municipalities implementing plans to increase the supply of below market housing are not violating the Rent Control Act (PA 226 of 1988) by offering voluntary incentives. This League-supported legislation was introduced in February and received a committee hearing this last week of session. It’s anticipated the bill will receive another committee hearing in early 2018 and be voted out.

Two economic development proposals of key interest to municipalities were also voted out of the Senate during the last week of session.  Similar to legislation that died at the end of 2016, the Senate sponsor introduced Senate Bill 393, which consolidates all tax increment financing authorities, excluding Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities, into one act with added transparency and reporting requirements.  Senate Bill 469 would reinstate the Michigan Historic Preservation Tax Credit.  Both of these bills were voted out of committee and out of the Senate last week and have been referred to the House Tax Policy committee where they are expected to receive committee consideration in the new year.

The League was also pleased with the Governor’s signature on legislation allowing urban grocery store projects to access funding from the community revitalization program this week. The House and Senate coordinated efforts last week on House Bill 4207 to provide State Rep. Andy Schor with one last Public Act before he resigns to take over as mayor of the City of Lansing.

Three different proposals related to the new Personal Property Tax system also saw movement before the recess, with Senate Bills 570-573 being finalized and sent to the Governor.  These bills provide for a much needed local mechanism to address late-filed business exemption applications.  Senate Bills 590-593 were voted out of the Senate and were referred to the House Local Government committee.  These bills, promoted by the League and reported from the Senate committee earlier this fall, would essentially hold communities harmless from any reduction in their debt limit due to a reduction in their property tax base from now-exempt personal property.  Finally, House Bill 5086 was developed between local government groups and the Department of Treasury to address a host of technical and minor policy issues related to the continuing implementation of the new system and the need to align the statute with the practical realities of managing and administering the new law.  This bill moved nearly unanimously out of the House last week and will be considered by the Senate Finance committee in early 2018.

Finally, a League-supported proposal to allow for the voluntary coordination of election duties and functions moved this month as House Bill 4671 received overwhelming support in the House and is now awaiting further action before the Senate Elections & Government Reform committee.

Infrastructure and technology issues also experienced a flurry of lobbying and negotiation over these final weeks of 2017.

Our advocacy efforts combined with a broader coalition opposing legislation which would have preempted most local control over private telecommunication provider line relocation projects.  We were able to delay action on House Bill 5098 that was being pursued by the industry before the end of the year.  This proposal remains alive, however, and we will continue to work to block further action on this bill.

The discussions surrounding the proposed industry roll-out of small cell technology is quickly becoming a big issue for municipalities. Small cells are low-powered antenna nodes that have a range of up to 2 miles and are installed for the purpose of relieving congestion for wireless users. The term “small” refers to the footprint of the device. Small cell devices can be mounted on their own 40’ poles, or on existing utility or street light poles. Senate Bill 637 was recently introduced that would create a new act that allows for small cell technology to be consider a permitted use both inside and outside the right-of-way with limited exceptions. The bill would severely limit local control around siting, impair municipal ability to protect the public health, safety and welfare of residents, and hinder local government’s ability to manage the ROW, potentially leading to a significant increase in the number of new poles within our communities.  Supporters of this proposal are looking for a statewide regulatory structure that is similar to the Metro Act and the Video Franchise Act.

The League is opposed to the language as introduced but working with the Chairman, Senator Mike Nofs, of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee to improve the bill. To do that we have extensively researched legislative efforts in other states, discussed the issue with several communities and municipal attorneys, and looked at the Distributed Antenna System (DAS)/Small Cell License Agreement created by the Grand Valley Metro Council.

League staff have met with Chairman Nofs and presented alternative language based on our research and conversations with members. This viable alternative to the introduced legislation strikes a balance between local control and the nationwide deployment of this new technology. The telecommunications industry will continue its push for the bill when the legislature returns next year in the hopes of quick action . We have asked the Chairman that this issue not be rushed and that all parties be brought to the table to discuss this bill and our alternative.

The Michigan Municipal League is also participant on the Lead and Copper Rule Stakeholder Workgroup that is assisting MDEQ with recommendations to address modifications to the Administrative Rules promulgated pursuant to Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act, 1976 PA 399, as amended. The ongoing discussion continues to be about how to best protect the public from lead exposure.  Unfortunately, the preliminary draft rules add additional burdens to community water supply systems that run counter to the principles of asset management and may ultimately hinder the protection of public health. In addition to the League, there are more than a half dozen community water suppliers, the American Water Works Association, public health departments and others participating on this work group.

The draft rule would reduce the action level from 15 parts per billion down to 10 parts per billion, require communities to map their existing system to identify the presence of lead, require that a community water supplier be responsible for the replacement and cost of private lead service lines, along with many other requirements that could pose significant financial and logistic hardships on a community. The League has taken a stance that we are not opposed to determining how much lead is present in water systems or the need to systematically begin removing lead from systems, but it cannot be done in such a way that causes a financial hardship or conflicts with the Headlee Amendment or the Bolt decision.

Link to the Preliminary Draft Rule: 2017 Preliminary Draft Lead and Copper Rule

Link to the DEQ Summary Document: Summary Lead and Copper Rule Requirements

The Governor has requested this issue be placed on an aggressive timeline and a finalized draft rule is expected by the first of the year. Should our concerns not be addressed through the stakeholder process, communities will need to be prepared to offer public comments on the rule in early January. In the meantime we will continue to work with those stakeholders that have common concerns with the process and draft rules to make the necessary adjustment to help prevent exposure to lead while still allowing for the efficient management of our water supply systems.

The Legislature is scheduled to return to full session on January 10, 2018, with the Governor’s final State of the State message and the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget presentation to follow shortly thereafter.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and

Congress Prepares for Final Vote on Tax Plan

The joint House-Senate conference committee announced their final reconciliation of the federal tax reform proposal on Friday.  Each chamber is expected to vote on the conference report early this week, where the bill is expected to receive enough support to make it to the President’s desk.

The League has been working with the National League of Cities and our delegation throughout the fall to advocate for changes to a number of provisions within the overall reform proposal that could impact communities in Michigan.  While a number of changes that we advocated for have been included in this final version, there are still areas of concern for Michigan municipalities.

After an initial review of the 503-page bill by NLC staff, the conference report on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) does the following;

  • Publicly Issued Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds: Preserved throughout the whole process.
  • Private Activity Bonds (PABs): Conference report sided with Senate version and preserved PABs.
  • Advance Refunding (ARs) Bonds: Conference report had no difference to reconcile. Tax exemption for interest earned on ARs would terminate on 12/31/2017.
  • New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC): Conference report sided with Senate version and preserved NMTC until their authorization normally expires.
  • Historic Tax Credits (HTC): Conference report sided with the Senate version and preserves the 20% credit for rehabilitation costs to certified historic structures, but eliminates the 10% credit for pre-1936 structures.
  • State and Local Tax (SALT) Deduction: Conference report provided a new modification to SALT. Taxpayers would be able to deduct up to $10k in property taxes combined with either income or sales taxes.  

House Actions: The House Rules Committee is expected to consider the bill on Monday (12/18) and possibly vote on it by Tuesday (12/19).

Senate Actions: The Senate aims to hold 10 hours of debate and a vote on Wednesday (12/20).

A continued thanks to all of you who have sent letters, called members of Congress and helped make sure city priorities have not been ignored.

Feel free to reference for more information, or reach out with any questions or concerns. Stay tuned.


Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and



Legislature Finalizes Action on OPEB Bills

Following the initial action on the stripped down OPEB proposal last Thursday morning, League staff and members reviewed that language with an eye towards identifying provisions that appeared to be in conflict with the task force report or could be viewed as problematic for municipalities.

We identified a number of items and requested changes to accommodate those issues.

Earlier this morning, before the House and Senate sessions began, we were provided an H-2 version of SB 686 that did include a few of our requested changes, including:

  • Some clarification of the municipal reporting requirements.
  • Clarification that uniform assumptions established by the Treasurer are only for the purposes of the reporting within that section of the bill.
  • Eliminating language that could have been viewed as requiring corrective action plans to focus only on “maintaining and preserving” benefits.
  • Eliminating language which would have required these corrective action plans to address underfunding in ALL future years.

We remain concerned with the potential for unintended consequences based upon how swiftly these bills were changed and moved, without a thorough legal or policy review.

The substitute version of the main bill (and its companions) moved this afternoon, nearly unanimously in both chambers and the whole package is now on its way to the Governor.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and

OPEB Reform Efforts Scuttled

Following days of meetings and negotiations, efforts to provide comprehensive reform tools for communities to better manage rising retiree health insurance costs were derailed and a stripped down proposal was adopted in the early hours Thursday morning.

House Bill 5298 and its identical counterpart, Senate Bill 686, served as the main vehicle of the revised package that was scaled back to only address the few areas of limited consensus that were agreed to in the July release of the Governor’s Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force report.   While the League was a signatory to this report, we expressed disappointment in the lack of true reform recommendations and had hoped that the Administration and Legislature would expand on those recommendations and provide relief for communities struggling to balance the provision of good health care for their retirees against the ever-expanding budget burden of those benefits.

The final version establishes pension and OPEB reporting based upon existing local annual financial, actuarial valuation, and audit reports.  For communities identified through that reporting as being out of compliance with specified budget affordability and funding thresholds, the language identifies possible benefit level and funding changes that communities could utilize to address that “under-funded” status through a municipally-developed Corrective Action Plan.  A  Municipal Benefits Board is created within Treasury to provide communities with best practices and strategies to assist with the preparation of a Corrective Action Plan and its subsequent approval by that Board.

A number of companion bills were also adopted that League staff continue to review this morning.  We will continue to update members with any additional developments.  These bills will likely receive final legislative action next week and go to the Governor before the end of the year.

You can read the League’s statement on this morning’s action from Executive Director Dan Gilmartin here.

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and