Dear Editor -
I read with interest Lee Goff’s letter to the editor, where he employs language intended to shock and scare readers about the state’s emergency financial manager law. Sadly, one striking thing is missing from Mr. Goff’s letter – acknowledgment of who the real victims are when local governments go bankrupt – you and your family as taxpayers.
Local governments are chartered through the state of Michigan and if they default, their debts become your problems, whether you live there or not. I will not allow our people to pay the check for failed governments in other parts of the state. When a local government flounders, the state must do all it can to put them back on solid footing. This requires both carrots and sticks as necessary.
Without a strong process in place at the state level, our system would be the equivalent of telling an unruly child they’d better shape up before Dad comes home, only to have Dad arrive and just pat the child on the head and tell them burning the house down was really bad and they shouldn’t do it again. We needed Emergency Managers with the authority to make necessary decisions, and we needed to define clearly when they get involved and when they leave – something lacking in state law before.
Luckily the law allows for multiple steps before an Emergency Financial Manager becomes involved. Clare County has prudently noted that changes need to occur, and they’re doing so well before drastic intervention is necessary. This is the type of adult conversation that needs to take place all over our state – a frank discussion that acknowledges that business as usual in government has to stop.
Many communities have been proactive in contacting the state for assistance in getting themselves out of unsustainable budget processes before an EFM is required. I applaud and am confident in our local leaders ability to take the steps necessary to maintain vital services while protecting value for taxpayers.