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 chackbarth@mml.org.

State House Considering Revenue Sharing Package

The League's Chris Hackbarth testifies about the proposed revenue sharing bills Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 in the House committee along with officials from the Michigan Association of Counties and Michigan Townships Association.

The League’s Chris Hackbarth testifies about the proposed revenue sharing bills Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 in the House committee along with officials from the Michigan Association of Counties and Michigan Townships Association.

Following the introduction last week of the 16-bill OPEB reform package, three additional bills were introduced in the House to create a structure that attempts to address the chronic under-funding of revenue sharing for local units of government.

Lead by chief sponsor, former Walker city mayor, Rep. Rob VerHeulen, House Bills 5314-5316 do three main things:

 

  1. Creates separate city, village, township (CVT), and county Revenue Sharing Trust funds to protect against future revenue sharing reductions. These trust funds would receive dollars earmarked directly from Michigan’s sales tax to provide the funding for statutory revenue sharing for CVTs based upon the current budget appropriation amount (approx $248 million for CVTs).
  2. Provides an initial attempt at increasing revenue sharing by growing the current statutory appropriation by $100 million over the next 20 years from the sales tax. The bills would divide these new funds ($5 million/year) equally between counties, cities, villages, and townships.
  3. Secures future Personal Property Tax (PPT) reimbursement revenue that is available above what is needed for 100% reimbursement, as an additional down payment on revenue sharing restoration.

The League’s Chris Hackbarth testified Tuesday about the bills in the House Competitiveness Committee along with officials from the Michigan Association of Counties and Michigan Townships Association.

The League supports the bill package in concept and continues to advocate for a plan that restores the revenue sharing cuts of the past decade and distributes dollars appropriately. The three bills were voted out of the House committee Tuesday and await action on the House floor.

Rep. VerHeulen issued a press release about the package and explained it would be funded through Michigan’s sales tax and would give a level of security to local communities in the case of an economic downturn.

“There have been compounding factors that have all led us to where we are at right now in areas across the state,” VerHeulen stated in the release. “Our communities face a funding crisis. They cannot make reliable payments into retirement systems for their employees, including police and fire, and money is often being diverted away from vital public services in an effort to keep up with funding those retirement benefit plans or other budget necessities.”

The bills could be considered in the full House by the end of the year.

Posted by Matt Bach, the League’s director of communications, on behalf of Chris Hackbarth. For details contact Hackbarth at chackbarth@mml.org.

Stay Tuned: OPEB Revisions Forthcoming and We May Need Your Help

UPDATED (10 a.m., Dec. 6, 2017): The League has been told to expect substitute versions for the 16-bill OPEB reform package sometime this morning or later today. The original package of bills, as introduced Nov. 30, was approved without support from Democrats in House and Senate committees Tuesday and have been tentatively scheduled for action on today’s House and Senate agendas. The League continues to actively press for amendments to the bills that would address our concerns. Please stay tuned as the League may ask you – our members – to contact your lawmakers to support or oppose the forthcoming revisions.

The League's Chris Hackbarth, right, testifies about the proposed OPEB legislation with officials from the Michigan Association of Counties and Michigan Townships Association.

The League’s Chris Hackbarth, right, testifies about the proposed OPEB legislation with officials from the Michigan Association of Counties and Michigan Townships Association.

FROM 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 2017: The League’s Chris Hackbarth and Anthony Minghine testified this morning and this afternoon in opposition to the introduced versions of the identical OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefit) bill packages in the Michigan Senate and House committees. Negotiation on these bills is ongoing and we are working diligently with the Governor’s Administration and House and Senate leadership staff to address our concerns. They have been receptive to our input so far and we are waiting for revisions that should reflect the input we have provided.

We testified Tuesday in both committees alongside officials from the Michigan Association of Counties and Michigan Townships Association. League member and Port Huron City Manager James Freed also testified. We continue to work and propose changes to the complex 16-bill package. The Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee approved each of the bills, along with a related technical amendment, along party lines in 4-1 votes and sent them to the full Senate for a vote. The Senate adjourned for the day and may take up the package possibly later this week or next.

Port Huron City Manager James Freed testifies about the OPEB bill during a state House committee meeting Tuesday morning.

Port Huron City Manager James Freed testifies about the OPEB bill during a state House committee meeting Tuesday morning.

As most League members are probably aware, the League has been working for nearly two years on major municipal finance reform through our SaveMiCity initiative (go to saveMicity.org for details). The SaveMICity efforts has been looking for revenue, structure, and cost solutions to make our municipalities more fiscally sustainable. OPEB has been identified as our most significant budget cost driver in need of reform. Therefore the OPEB discussion happening now in the state Legislature is extremely important. For many months, League staff have been working with the legislature and governor’s office to help craft solutions to the OPEB problem.

The 16-bill package (House Bills 5298-5313 and duplicate Senate Bills 686-701) has pros and cons that League staff continue to assess to determine if these reform bills will provide necessary tools for communities to better manage these costs while remaining true to our fundamental beliefs –  that communities need the ability to provide reasonable benefits to their employees and retirees without crowding out essential city services.

The League's Anthony Minghine testifies before a state House committee.

The League’s Anthony Minghine testifies before a state House committee.

There are many parts of the bill package that the League supports, but we are also working to address a number of concerns that exist within the bills as introduced. Chief among them is the use of the Emergency Management (EM) law as the enforcement mechanism to address any impasse situation in the OPEB reform process. The League’s Anthony Minghine, deputy executive director and chief operating officer, testified that the use of the EM law is a “broad overstep” to the problem. Specifically, the League has raised concerns over the inclusion of language in this package that opens PA 436, the Emergency Manager law to add in a new provision for an emergency management team to be appointed in communities where the community and its bargaining units are unable to come to agreement on a local corrective action plans designed to address an OPEB or pension funding situation that exceeds specified funding and budget spending thresholds.

Port Huron City Manager James Free talks with the League's Anthony Minghine during the Senate committee hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Port Huron City Manager James Free talks with the League’s Anthony Minghine during the Senate committee hearing Tuesday afternoon.

View details about the OPEB bills in a previous blog that the League’s Chris Hackbarth, director of state and federal affairs, posted Thursday, Nov. 30, and updated yesterday here.

While it appears that both committees will be moving their respective bill packages to the floor today we anticipate changes to these bills before any further action and continue to actively press for amendments to the bills that would address our concerns.

Matt Bach is director of communications for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org.

Financial Dashboard Grant Details Released by Treasury

Local units of government that purchase financial forecasting and transparency reporting tools through one of the State of Michigan’s approved vendors, Munetrix or Forecast5, can now apply for a partial reimbursement.

All cities, villages, townships and counties that enter into an agreement to purchase these web-based tools through Munetrix or Forecast5, on or before December 1, 2017, are eligible for a partial reimbursement under the Financial Data Analytic Tool Reimbursement Program. A total of $500,000 in funding is available for reimbursements during the State’s 2018 fiscal year.

Cities, villages, townships and counties interested in applying for a partial reimbursement must submit their Financial Data Analytic Tool Reimbursement Request (Form 5568) to the Michigan Department of Treasury no later than December 1, 2017.  Attached is a copy of Form 5568 and an informational page regarding the program.

To learn more about the program or to download a reimbursement form, go to  http://www.michigan.gov/treasury/0,4679,7-121-1751_2197-451435–,00.html

Revenue Sharing and Grants Division

Michigan Department of Treasury

517-373-2697

TreasRevenueSharing@michigan.gov

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

Treasury Announces Grants for Financially Distressed Communities

Treasury released the following information this morning regarding grant dollars available through Treasury’s financially distressed city, village and township program:

Cities, villages and townships experiencing financial struggles can now apply for a grant to help fund special projects and free up tax dollars for important services, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury (Treasury).

Applications are now being accepted for the Financially Distressed Cities, Villages, and Townships (FDCVT) grant program. Municipalities interested in applying for an award must submit applications to the state Treasury Department by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.

All cities, villages and townships experiencing at least one condition of “probable financial distress” as outlined in the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act are eligible to apply for up to $2 million. A total of $5.4 million in funding is available for Treasury to award through the FDCVT grant program for the 2018 fiscal year. 

Grant funding may be used to pay for specific projects or services that move a community toward financial stability. Preference will be given to applications from municipalities that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • A financial emergency has been declared in the past 10 years.
  • An approved deficit elimination plan for the General Fund is currently in place.
  • Two or more conditions indicating “probable financial distress” currently exist.
  • The fund balance of the General Fund has been declining over the past five years and the fund balance is less than 3 percent of the General Fund revenues.

Due to requirements outlined under state law, school districts are not eligible for funds from this grant program.

For more information about the FDCVT grant program or to download an application, go to www.michigan.gov/revenuesharing.

 

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

State Budget Signed By Governor

The Governor affixed his signature at the end of last week to the omnibus state budget bill.  This bill (HB 4323) includes a 2.5% ($6.2 million) increase to statutory revenue sharing. This spreadsheet from the House Fiscal Agency outlines the expected revenue sharing payments for each municipality based upon this increase.  These new dollars will flow strictly to communities that received a CVTRS payment in the current year and will be distributed to those units on a per capita basis.  Constitutional payments are expected to grow by approximately $40 million in the coming year, subject to actual state sales tax collections.

http://house.michigan.gov/hfa/PDF/Revenue_Forecast/CVT_Revenue_Sharing_Payments_FY16thruFY18_Conference_Report.pdf.

In addition to this welcome increase in revenue sharing, the budget also includes an increase above the Governor’s original proposal to fire protections grant funding of $1.4 million.  While not as high as the supplemental, one-time increase in the current year’s budget, this will be the second year in a row where fire protection grant funding has been higher than the baseline recommendation.  State PILT payments for purchased lands will also see a slight increase in this new budget.  The budget estimates $4 million in revenue coming in from the new medical marijuana law that will be distributed as grants to local units of government.  A new grant program has $500,000 available within Treasury that will provide reimbursements to local units that implement a financial data analytic tool.  Project Rising Tide will receive an additional $2 million to expand beyond the current 10 communities in that program.  The Michigan Enhancement Grant program will receive nearly $36 million to fund 20 projects in communities around the state.  Within the MDOT portion of the budget, an additional $49 million is anticipated being distributed from the MTF to cities and villages, along with additional revenue appropriated to transit and the TEDF.

From a broader level, the budget deposits another $150 million into the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund and $35 million into the Governor’s new Michigan Infrastructure Fund.

Supplemental budget language was added for the current (FY16-17) budget, as well. The Ambulance Quality Assurance Assessment Program (QAAP tax) was eliminated from the current year budget, but language allowing for its inclusion in the coming budget was retained, though it was amended in an attempt to tighten the revenue base upon which this new tax could be assessed.  Efforts will continue to keep DHHS from implementing this new tax and repealing the language in the Public Health Code.

New funding has been added to the current budget year aimed at providing reimbursement dollars for the under-development local Indigent Defense Commission standards to the tune of $5 million.  As these plans continue to be finalized within each county, the picture will become clearer as to how much more will need to be appropriated for full implementation of those plans.

New funding was also included in this supplemental section for the newly created Municipal Wetland Alliance for wetland mitigation banks ($3.9M) and for a Regional Infrastructure Asset Management Pilot ($2M), both of which could benefit communities around the state.

The Governor’s line item vetoes focused mainly on education or human services program additions and did not impact any of the items referenced above.  The new budget goes into effect on October 1, 2017.

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

House and Senate Reach Agreement on Revenue Sharing Increase in Upcoming Budget

A joint House/Senate conference committee met this morning (June 8, 2017) and approved a revenue sharing proposal for the upcoming 2017-18 state fiscal year.

Lead by former Walker mayor, State Rep. Rob VerHeulen and State Sen. Jim Stamas, the budget report included a 2.5% increase ($6.2 million) in funding for those cities, villages and townships that have been receiving statutory revenue sharing. This increase, alongside the expected improvement in sales tax collections that are estimated to improve Constitutional revenue sharing payments by more than $40 million, would reverse last year’s overall revenue sharing decline and provide the first increase on the statutory side in more than three years.

It should be noted that this morning’s conference agreement on SB 142 (http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2017-2018/billanalysis/House/pdf/2017-HLA-0142-7AA49F7E.pdf) was developed without any input from the Snyder Administration or the Department of Treasury, as the Administration and Legislature continue to haggle over Legislative leadership’s desire to include a closure of the MI Public School Employees Retirement System as a part of the spending for the upcoming budget year.

This means that while both chambers have consistently supported increases for cities, villages and townships throughout this year’s budget development process, the Administration did not originally recommend any increase and could resist the proposed increase if this version is presented for his signature without an overall deal in place on the MPSERS situation.

League members should contact the Governor’s office and urge his support for this proposed increase and for a long-term plan for restoration of the devastating cuts of the past decade.

Posted by Matt Bach on behalfof Chris Hackbarth. Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

Contact Your State Reps Today and Tell Them to Oppose Income Tax Elimination Bill

Act now logo new-320

***UPDATE:   

The Michigan House just adjourned session for the day (Tuesday) after adopting a substitute version H-3 for HB 4001 that would reduce the income tax rate from 4.25% down to 3.9% by January 1, 2021 and stopping at that point.  Following hours of caucus and floor discussion, the new version was introduced and adopted on the House floor with no explanation of the new version.  The House Fiscal Agency analysis of the new proposal pegs the state’s General Fund loss in the first year and $195 million and progressing upwards to $1.1 billion in FY2021-22.  The H-3 version of the bill is now on 3rd reading in the House and has been listed for action on TODAY’s (Wednesday’s) House calendar. So it is just as important to contact your Reps today and ask them to oppose the sub version of HB 4001. Governor Snyder came out with a statement last night opposed to the revised bill (he was also against the original bill).

Legislation being considered in Lansing would eliminate the state income tax, potentially blowing a massive hole in our budget and destroying vital programs and services communities and your residents rely on every day. Let’s face it, nobody likes to pay taxes. But we need the services those taxes support – police and fire protection, road maintenance, street lighting, drinking water, libraries, parks, and the list goes on and on.

This plan to eliminate the state income tax is moving quickly and we need your help to oppose it. On Feb. 15, a state House committee passed out HB 4001, which would cut $680 million from the state budget in the first, partial year alone. This idea is poor fiscal policy that would harm the state’s future ability to provide critical services for its residents, communities, and businesses. There is no question that with revenue reductions of that magnitude, the remaining statutory revenue sharing payments would be at risk and any future restoration of the cuts from the past decade would be a virtual impossibility.

Proponents of the tax cut say it would spur economic growth and allow people living paycheck to paycheck to see meaningful tax relief and allow them to buy more. A recent Midland Daily News editorial disagreed and broke it down like this: “But the reality is that is a bunch of bunk. A person making $50,000 a year would see a tax cut of $175 — about $3.37 per week (48 cents a day). That’s hardly going to bail out people living paycheck to paycheck and is a very minimal increase in buying power.”

Governor Snyder and Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri also have spoken against the proposal and recent polling reveals little support for an income tax cut from voters, regardless of political party or geography, and almost no support once voters are told of the impact of the repeal. The poll found 74 percent of people oppose the idea of eliminating the income tax without a plan to replace revenue lost by the state.

Michigan communities have already lost $7.5 billion in revenue sharing dollars since 2002. This is money that should have gone to local communities, but instead state leaders kept the funds for their own budget priorities. Further risking cuts in revenue sharing, coupled with the dramatic declines in property tax revenues from the Great Recession, will only further devastate local governments. We should be talking about growth, not more cuts. With Michigan’s economy finally recovering, we should be looking for ways where our communities can share in that recovery, not push them further into crisis.

Please contact your State Representative today (look up their contact information by clicking here) and tell them to oppose HB 4001.

Matt Bach is director of media relations. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org.

Legislative Committee Orientation Event at Capitol Teaches Ins and Outs of State Politics

League staff John LaMacchia and Chris Hackbarth at the Legislative Committee Kick-Off Orientation Thursday.

League staff John LaMacchia and Chris Hackbarth at the Legislative Committee Kick-Off Orientation Thursday.

(View more photos here)

About 60 local municipal officials from throughout the state were at the state Capitol Thursday in Lansing for the Michigan Municipal League’s Legislative Committee Kick-Off Orientation. The first-time event for the League was highly successful as members from the League’s various legislative policy committees heard from state lawmakers, League staff and communications experts.

The League makes policy decisions based on the input from its five League policy committees that are broken into topics – energy, environment and technology (chaired by Brighton City Manager Nate Geinzer); land use and economic development (chaired by Lake Isabella Village Manager Tim Wolff); municipal finance (chaired by Howell City Manager Shea Charles); municipal services (chaired by Novi City Manager Pete Auger); and transportation infrastructure (chaired by Farmington Hills Public Services Director Gary Mekjian).

The event was hosted by State Rep. Dan Lauwers in the Speakers Library in the Capitol across the street from the League’s Lansing office. Lauwers welcomed the group to the Capitol and was followed by League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin who thanked the members for their services on the policy committees and explained how important their work is to the League’s success as an organization.

State legislators speak at the Legislative Committee Kick-Off Orientation Thursday.

State legislators Rep. Christine Greig, Rep. James Lower and Sen. Ken Horn speak at the Legislative Committee Kick-Off Orientation Thursday. Kyle Melinn (left), co-owner of MIRS News Service, was moderator of the panel discussion.

Other event speakers were League staff members Chris Hackbarth, director of state and federal affairs; John LaMacchia, assistant director of state and federal affairs; Jennifer Rigterink, legislative associated; Emily Kieliszewski, member engagement specialist; and Shanna Draheim, policy director. There was also a panel discussion moderated by Kyle Melinn, news editor and co-owner of Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) and featuring State Rep. Christine Greig, House Democratic Floor Leader; State Rep. James Lower; and State Sen. Ken Horn.

Local officials listen to a presentation at the Legislative Committee Kick-Off Orientation Thursday.

Local officials listen to a presentation at the Legislative Committee Kick-Off Orientation Thursday.

Policy committee members from throughout the state attended representing the following communities: Village of Beverly Hills, City of Novi, City of Flushing, City of Gibraltar, City of Wyoming, Village of Copemish, City of Dexter, City of Center Line, City of Howell, City of Southgate, City of Grosse Pointe, Village of Chesaning, City of Livonia, City of Taylor,
City of Brighton, City of Charlotte, City of Westland, City of Woodhaven, City of Springfield, City of Dearborn Heights, City of Ann Arbor, Village of Mendon, City of Grand Blanc, City of Menominee, City of Midland, City of Berkley, City of St. Clair Shores, Village of St. Charles, City of Ovid, City of Monroe, City of Ann Arbor, City of Hazel Park, City of Douglas, City of Farmington Hills, City of Mt. Pleasant, City of Hamtramck, City of Alma, City of Hastings, City of Farmington Hills, City of Grandville, City of Dexter, City of Adrian, City of Rochester Hills, City of Orchard Lake, City of Cadillac, City of Rochester
City of Plymouth, City of Wayne, Village of Cassopolis, City of Dexter, City of Milan, City of Midland, Village of Sparta, City of Alpena, City of Saline, City of Gladstone, City of East Lansing, City of Clio, Village of Lake Isabella, Village of Blissfield, and Village of Quincy.

Dusty Fancher and Dave Waymire speak at the Legislative Committee Kick-Off Orientation Thursday.

Dusty Fancher and Dave Waymire speak at the Legislative Committee Kick-Off Orientation Thursday.

After lunch, the group heard about communications, public relations and the insider’s guide to lobbying from Dave Waymire, partner at Martin Waymire; and Dusty Fancher, partner with Midwest Strategy Group.

To learn about the latest legislative issues involving Michgian’s communities, subscribe to the League’s Inside 208 blog here: http://blogs.mml.org/wp/inside208/ (view subscribe box on right side of page). Learn more about the League’s policy committees here: http://www.mml.org/advocacy/committee/index.html. View additional photos from the event here.

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

Treasury Accepting Applications for Financially Distressed Community Grants

The Department of Treasury recently announced that the application period for the Financially Distressed Cities, Villages, and Townships $5 million grant program is now open.  According to Treasury’s announcement:

Municipalities experiencing financial struggles can apply for a grant from the Michigan Department of Treasury to help fund special projects and free up tax dollars for important services. Applications for the Financially Distressed Cities, Villages, and Townships (FDCVT) grant program are now available. Municipalities interested in applying for an award must submit applications to the Department of Treasury by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, October 17, 2016. All cities, villages, and townships, experiencing at least one condition of “probable financial distress” as outlined in Public Act 436 of 2012, the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act*, are eligible to apply for up to $2 million. A total of $5 million in funding is available for Treasury to award through the FDCVT grant program this year. Grant funding may be used to pay for specific projects, services, or strategies that move the city, village, or township toward financial stability. Preference will be given to applicants from local units in which: A financial emergency has been declared in the past ten years; or, An approved Deficit Elimination Plan for the General Fund is currently in place; or, Two or more conditions indicating “probable financial distress” currently exist; or, The fund balance of the General Fund has been declining over the past five years and the fund balance is less than 3% of the General Fund Revenues.

Please follow this link for more information about FDCVT grants and for copies of the grant application.

.Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304and chackbarth@mml.org.