The Detroit Free Press killed it with their editorial “Lansing are you listening?” Their editorial board gets it and understands what we all know to be true: Michigan cannot be successful if their communities are struggling. Michigan’s current economic practices are killing our communities and it’s time for a fresh look. The tidal wave of data that makes this point is overwhelming and continues to mount. Among other things, they highlighted the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy’s annual survey of local leaders in their piece, “Just 31% of Michigan local leaders said they’re better able to meet their community’s fiscal needs, down from 38% in 2015. While 42% say property tax growth is increasing, that’s also down from last year, when 45% of leaders saw growth — and the number of communities who say state aid is declining grew, from 18% in 2015 to 20% this year. Thirty percent say they’ll rely on savings to cover budget gaps, up from 26% last year. And only 28% believe their area will be better able to meet its financial needs next year, down from 36% in 2015. ” The system is broken and we need to change it.
If the right people are willing to show the courage and leadership needed to reinvent our municipal finance system,so that it provides the resources we need to create great places: we will thrive, not survive. It is this Michigan that will be the economic powerhouse we all want and need. If we continue on the path we are on, we will starve cities to the breaking point and our future is bleak. As we learned from George McFly, we can change our future if we have the courage to stand up and do something. The path we are currently on has us doing Biff’s homework forever. If you don’t get this reference, you need to go back the the future.