Detroit decline voids laws — some crucial
Published: August 24, 2011
In the mayor's office, Lijana acknowledged that "we're having those conversations."
Last year Detroit used $250 million in fiscal stabilization bonds to relieve short-term debt. But the state law allowing the issuance of the bonds requires 750,000 residents, meaning the city couldn't issue bonds now.
Lijana says amending that to a lower population threshold is a high priority for the mayor's office.
And it's one of about 10 bills the mayor's staff is working with legislators to draft.
As with anything perceived as giving Detroit "special treatment," Rep. Fred Durhal, (D-Detroit) says the Detroit caucus expects continued "pushback" from other legislators. With the next biggest city, Grand Rapids, at about 188,000, it's really only Detroit that such legislation affects.
"There have been some people who just don't like it because they're provisions for Detroit," Durhal says. "It's been referred to colloquially as 'the black hole' where everything goes in and nothing good comes out. ... I think the city still offers a lot to the state and I think the value of it is growing and getting better."
But whatever reluctance there might be in the Legislature isn't visibly shared by the governor's office, says Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics. "It's a very positive atmosphere, I think, coming from the administration in Lansing toward Detroit," he says. "I think the Snyder administration has demonstrated a real interest and commitment in trying to resuscitate Detroit and is reaching out to Detroit."
Bing and Snyder share as good a relationship as Ballenger has seen between a Detroit mayor and a governor since Coleman Young and Bill Milliken. "In the '70s, they were the odd couple: the Republican governor from Traverse City and Coleman Young — and yet they got along," Ballenger says. "But what you've seen from Bing and Snyder is kind of extraordinary too."
Still, the relationships between Detroit and legislators who don't directly represent the city are more challenging. Detroit's representatives and senators are Democrats but the Republicans hold a majority in both chambers. And most of the legislators are from outstate Michigan and not metro Detroit, making communication and understanding a challenge, Ballenger says.
"They struggle to really relate to Detroit," Ballenger says. "But the fact that Snyder has been so positive and the Legislature and Snyder are getting along so well together, that mitigates the pain that Detroit may experience."
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