(Adds comments by governor, DETROIT dateline)
DETROIT, June 20 Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
on Friday signed into law bills that complete funding for a key
component of Detroit's plan to adjust $18 billion of debt and
exit the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
The legislation allocates nearly $195 million in state funds
for the so-called grand bargain, which includes $366 million
pledged over 20 years by philanthropic foundations and $100
million from the Detroit Institute of Arts. The money would be
used to ease pension cuts for Detroit's retired city workers and
protect art work from being sold to pay city creditors.
The Republican governor hailed the legislature's bipartisan
passage of the bills, but cautioned that the bankruptcy case
filed by Michigan's biggest city in July 2013 is far from done.
"This is a story that's not over. So while we celebrate
today let's recognize there's more work to be done. There's an
important vote coming in July. There's still another phase of
the bankruptcy trial," Snyder said at the bill signing attended
by state lawmakers, Detroit officials and U.S. Judge Gerald
Rosen, the lead mediator in the city's bankruptcy.
Detroit and state officials are hoping that the grand
bargain will sway thousands of city workers and retirees to vote
in favor of the proposed debt adjustment plan. If they reject
it, the officials have warned that the money would be yanked and
pension cuts would be bigger.
In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Snyder said the loss
of the grand bargain would be "devastating" for the city's
retirees and would delay the bankruptcy case.
"You kind of have a restart to a degree in terms of the
entire process," he said, adding he did not know how much time
that would entail.
Detroit's creditors have a July 11 voting deadline. On Aug.
14, U.S. Judge Steven Rhodes, who is overseeing the bankruptcy
case, is scheduled to begin a lengthy trial to determine if the
plan is fair and feasible.
The package of new laws allows Michigan to take its $195
million lump sum contribution out of the state's rainy day fund,
which would be paid back over time with proceeds from the
state's share of a national settlement with U.S. tobacco
The laws also create a nine-member oversight panel that will
stay active until Detroit meets certain financial thresholds and
require the city to hire a qualified chief financial officer and
submit four-year financial plans.
Snyder said that Michigan's monetary contribution is a
"unique circumstance" and does not mean that state funds will
also flow to other fiscally troubled municipalities and schools.
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Tuesday revised the
outlook on Michigan's AA-minus credit rating to "stable" from
"positive," citing in part the potential of future state
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit, additional reporting
by Karen Pierog in Chicago; editing by Matthew Lewis)