Job creation is the main priority in Lansing. In order to create a positive atmosphere for job creation, we must first get our fiscal house in order, at both the state and local level. I want to take this opportunity to share with you information about the recently passed emergency financial manager legislation that has drawn a lot of attention in the past two weeks. I would like to share my thoughts on the legislation and, hopefully, clear up some misconceptions about the new law.
I voted for the emergency financial manager legislation when it came before the Senate for consideration. I supported a number of amendments to modify the legislation prior to its passage, such as limiting the salary of an emergency financial manager to the amount the Governor receives and requiring an emergency financial manager for a school district to have a background in teaching or education. However, these amendments were defeated. I successfully amended the bill to eliminate a reference to school district consolidation out of the bill, so that this will remain under the purview of the local voters.
Contrary to the rhetoric, this legislation does not take away the collective bargaining rights of municipal employees or school employees. Should a municipality or school district not operate in a fiscally responsible fashion, a series of steps would be taken up to the appointment of an emergency financial manager.
Under the manager, collective bargaining could be suspended, along with a number of additional actions. However, this is a last-case scenario with several steps along the way before it would reach that point. Upon enactment of this legislation, public employees and teachers still have their collective bargaining rights. Furthermore, the law does not remove elected officials from their positions or bar them from running for re-election.
I believe that this legislation will give municipalities and school districts, along with their employees, the incentive to work out their financial issues locally to avoid any state intervention. If a municipality or school district chooses not to be financially responsible, I do not feel that the taxpayers in other areas of the state should bail them out. We all have to be personally responsible in these hard times.
As always, I appreciate citizen input on any issue on which the Senate is working.
– Senator Bruce Caswell
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909