Dec 14 The Michigan Legislature ended an active
lame-duck session early on Friday, sending Governor Rick Snyder
a flurry of bills, including one to phase out a tax that raises
millions of dollars for local governments and schools.
The Republican-controlled legislature voted to gradually
reduce the personal property tax levied on certain manufacturing
and industrial equipment.
The tax raises about $470 million a year for members of the
"Replace Don't Erase" coalition, made up of the Michigan
Municipal League, along with county, school board and other
groups, according to Samantha Harkins, state affairs director at
the municipal league.
In a blog post on Friday, Harkins said the legislation does
not provide communities with full revenue replacement. However,
it does tie the entire repeal of the tax to statewide voter
approval of a plan to divert some of the state's use tax revenue
to the local governments, she added.
Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, said in a statement
other measures passed by lawmakers, including a regional transit
authority for southeast Michigan, a lighting authority for
Detroit and a new emergency manager bill, the state was
"demonstrating a meaningful commitment to the stability,
vitality and safety of our cities and towns."
The emergency manager bill, which gives financially troubled
cities like Detroit and school districts options, including
Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy, to achieve solvency, surfaced
just weeks after Michigan voters repealed a 2011 law dealing
with fiscal emergencies on Nov. 6.
For Detroit, lawmakers passed a package of bills that create
a municipal lighting authority empowered to issue revenue bonds
backed by utility user taxes to fund the construction, expansion
or improvement of street lighting.
The legislation also sets a 2.4 percent income tax rate for
Detroit residents and 1.2 percent rate for nonresidents as of
Jan. 1, according to an analysis by the House Fiscal Agency.
However, those rates would fall to 2.2 percent and 1.1 percent
respectively once the lighting authority debt is paid off and
utility user tax revenue is no longer pledged to the authority.
The legislature also sent the Republican governor bills to
create a regional transit authority in the southeast Michigan
counties of Wayne, which includes Detroit, Oakland, Macomb and
Washtenaw. The transit agency would be authorized to issue
bonds, according to a bill analysis.