Great places make for a strong economy, and the research supports that contention. By employing community-based placemaking strategies, we strengthen both our economic and social future. The League believes that at the heart of great places are strong cities. Across the country, cities account for over 80 percent of GDP, but in Michigan we have failed to invest in this vital resource.

After years of working within the existing paradigms, the League is undertaking a major legislative and policy push aimed at reforming municipal finance in Michigan to encourage renewed investment in our communities. This is intended to be an examination of how we can do things differently in Michigan to assure that local government can’t just survive, but can thrive. To that end, the League will be developing policy recommendations around three themes: Cost Containment, Revenue Enhancement, and Structure of Government.

We are taking this approach to break away from the historically limiting tactic of incremental change within the context of where we are today. We need new ideas, innovative approaches, and bold action to create a new future for communities around Michigan.

Is this an issue that you care about and would like to have a discussion about locally? The League will work with you to plan an event in your hometown with community groups, local chambers of commerce, local media, etc. Just contact us and we will provide resources and/or a speaker to help foster the discussion.


A Broken System

Michigan has the most abysmal record for investing in local government. It’s worse than any state in the nation, and this directly relates to our ability to provide great services and create the places we all know are needed to be competitive in a global economy. We must reform our system to invest in what matters most: our communities.


26 May 16

‘State Has Failed Our Cities’

"If the state can afford to cut business taxes by $3 billion over the last 5 years they can afford to fully fund revenue sharing.” That quote from Robert Kleine, former state of Michigan treasurer, during a news conference Wednesday, simply sums up how the state of Michigan over the last 15 years has prioritized state needs over essential services at the local level – namely police and fire protection, schools, road maintenance and much…

26 May 16

Michigan Needs to Own-Up to Why Its Cities are Struggling – MSU expert

Michigan is not alone when it comes to the financial challenges facing its local communities. But the “stick approach” to the way it deals with struggling cities separates Michigan from most states. This was the message of Michigan State University Assistant Professor Joshua Sapotichne during a news conference Wednesday unveiling a new deep-dive report on the municipal finance system in Michigan. “Michigan really does make it particularly challenging on its local governments,” Sapotichne said. “What…

25 May 16

Tough Choices at Battle Creek City Hall Fueled by State Disinvestment in Cities

Police station bathrooms used as storage closets. Frost collecting on firefighters' beds. Having to clear a building due to fumes from drug evidence stored in a poorly ventilated evidence room. These are some of the regular challenges Battle Creek City Manager Rebecca Fleury and the city's nine-member commission deal with on a regular basis. During a news conference today (May 25, 2016), Fleury painted this vivid picture of what it's like to operate a community today after…


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That according to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2002 – 2012 revenues for the State of Michigan increased 29%, but revenues the state provided to local government for local services like police, fire, and recreation, decreased by more than 56%.