UPDATE: Thursday, March 17th at 12:15am
Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law a series of bills expanding the powers of emergency financial managers (EMFs) running troubled local governments and school districts.
The goal is to allow the state to intervene at an earlier stage so that the need for an emergency manager can be avoided altogether, said Snyder in a statement Wednesday afternoon after signing the bills.
The signature came as thousands of protesters packed the state capitol inside and while attending a rally hosted by the United Auto Workers . The issue was so heated, at least five protesters were arrested after staging a sit-in, opposing Snyder TMs pension tax and defending collective bargaining rights.
It TMs the latter that especially concerned the protesters due to language associated with the six bills that allows emergency managers to throw out existing union contracts in the name of cost-cutting.
Other controversial parts granted EMFs the power to dissolve elected officials of their authority while a community is under state control.
Specifics of the law
The bills signed Wednesday updates Public Act 72 of 1990 (then signed by Democratic Gov. James Blanchard), also known as the Emergency Financial Manager act. It will provide more criteria that the state would look for, while attempting to find financial problems earlier and solve them sooner. The law has 18 triggers that can launch an early review, up from the current 14.
Snyder TMs office said the law will allow for a 30-day window for collective bargaining to take place, while the state deals with fiscal distress. It is made up of House Bills: 4214, 4216, 4217, 4218 and Senate Bills 157 and 158 which are now known as Public Acts 4 through 9.
This issue and others involving Snyder TMs reform proposals gained steam in recent days, especially online after a commentary by MSNBC TMs Rachel Maddow went viral.
That commentary blasted Snyder and other GOP governors across the country; accusing them of pushing a so-called shock doctrine instead of really taking interest in true fiscal reform and stability.
NBC25 TMs coverage and fact checking of Maddow TMs commentary also went viral, as state leaders like House Speaker Jase Bolger wrote a letter to the press, attempting to clear the air on the legislation TMs true intentions.
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 16th at 5:10pmThousands of union members protest the governor's budget proposal in Lansing. Click here for the full story. UPDATE: Tuesday, March 15th at 7:50pm The controversial legislation involving expanded powers for emergency financial managers passed the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday. The Detroit News reports it will now head to Gov. Rick Snyder TMs desk for a signature. The legislation gives greater authority to state appointed financial managers of troubled local governments and school districts; even allows union contracts to be thrown out during insolvency. The measure passed in a party line vote of 62-48.
You can view the passed bill here.UPDATE: Tuesday, March 15th at 8:30am This story has lit up the NBC25 Facebook page with comments. Trina Redhall says, "I'm all for making cuts, we have to. But I seriously object to making poor and working class families taking the brunt of the hardship while allowing businesses to pay millions less. As a state, we are in this mess partly due to outsourcing, I don't think rewarding them it is the right course. We cannot be neither completely pro-worker nor pro-business, we must find the middle. Do the wealthy not understand what happens to a society when thousands of people become desperate for food, housing and basic hygeine needs?" Robin Nau Heid states, "...WAKE -UP AMERICA NO ONE IS or WILL HAVE ANYTHING Republican or Democrat.....THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN!!!!" Join the NBC25 Facebook conversation, and let us know how you feel about Rachel Maddow's comments. UPDATE: Monday, March 14th at 3:47pm Update: MSNBC liberal talker Rachel Maddow TMs recently televised commentary condemning Gov. Rick Snyder TMs budget proposals is gaining traction in news and opinion outlets across the state. The Kalazamoo Gazette posted an opinion piece here . Another article posted on the Michigan Capitol Confidential website posts comments by Mackinac Center for Public Policy analysts Michael LaFaive and James Hohman and their take on Maddow TMs remarks. Students at Central Michigan University have their take on the controversial emergency financial manager legislation and included Maddow TMs commentary on the student-produced newspaper . The Detroit News editorial section documented Maddow's take several days ago immediately after the commentary first aired.
Meanwhile Michigan residents took part in nearly a dozen Snyder budget protests across the state Monday, with many likely agreeing with Maddow, who criticized Snyder TMs tax and spending plans.Original Report Gov. Rick Snyder has drawn the ire of MSNBC liberal commentator Rachel Maddow who slams Snyder TMs current budget proposals and controversial public policy endorsements in a televised commentary that has since gone viral.
The commentary is posted on YouTube under the title Michigan is screwed and has Maddow tying Snyder into the discussion of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker TMs push to reduce collective-bargaining rights for more than 175,000 state employees.
Maddow claims that like the policies proposed in Wisconsin, Snyder TMs budget cuts and structural reforms are not about the budget.
He TMs going to raise taxes on seniors and on poor people, Maddow said, referencing to Snyder TMs push to tax public and private pensions. Critics have said this amounts to a tax increase on seniors, while Snyder claims it TMs simply a removal of current exemptions to help balance the financing of government operation and ask seniors to pay what other residents pay.
*Watch Snyder TMs defense of his pension tax here.
Maddow also said Snyder is planning to take the near $2 billion in revenues generated from taxes on poor people, old people, (and) people supporting public schooling and give it away in the form of $1.8 billion dollars in corporate tax cuts.
She also criticized Snyder for attempting to broaden the powers of emergency financial managers, giving them the ability to throw out union contracts once they take over communities and school districts that have gone broke. She continued by saying, Michigan Republicans are telling them (protesters at the capitol) that they are about to lose their right to elect local government (officials), while cutting aid to cities and towns so much that a lot of cities and towns in Michigan are expected to be in dire financial straits.
NBC25 Fact Check: Cutting aid to cities and towns
NBC25 did some digging into Maddow TMs claims and found several inaccuracies. For instance, many of Michigan TMs communities are already in dire financial straits and have been so for years, including the City of Flint. Right now Flint faces a deficit of more than $17 million which includes several deficits that Mayor Dayne Walling has said to be from past administrations.
Flint does plan to lose about $8.1 million under Snyder TMs plan; money that would help pay for police and fire protection and may force devastating layoffs.
Snyder proposes eliminating the statutory revenue sharing program, currently worth about $300 million. This plan cuts more than $92.1 million (part of the loss Flint will receive) but reforms the remaining $200+ million into a fund that communities like Flint can still get. Maddow did not mention that in her commentary.
She also did not mention that Gov. Snyder proposed a 4% increase in the separate constitutional revenue sharing program, or an increase of $25.5 million. However even Snyder himself did not say in his Executive Budget Presentation before state lawmakers in February, that such a proposal would require a change in the Michigan Constitution. That is rare.
In addition, we found revenue sharing cuts have been made before including cuts under former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. In 2009, she placed a 4 percent cut to revenue sharing on the table.
However one report shows Granholm authorized a 13% cut in revenue sharing when she signed a general fund budget.
Organizations like the Michigan Municipal League have been fighting cuts to revenue sharing dollars as early as 2002, though the Snyder proposals have been considered the most devastating to date.
NBC25 Fact Check: Financial manager powers
Maddow also said, Gov. Snyder is pushing a bill that would give himself, Gov. Snyder and his administration the power to declare any town or school district to be in a financial emergency, adding that they would put somebody in charge of that town.
State law already gives the governor this power. You may recall in 2002 when then Gov. John Engler named Ed Kurtz emergency financial manager for the city, thus authorizing a state takeover.
Maddow later said, "Michigan Republicans are telling them (protesters at the capitol) that they are about to lose their right to elect local government." She later added, "this emergency person also gets the power under this bill to suspend or dismiss elected officials."
However NBC25 found that state law already gives the governor power to remove a local elected official from office, as indicated in this report.
As previously reported, the emergency financial manager legislation would give state officials the power to scrap existing union contracts.
Snyder also talks about the emergency financial manager law in a clip of an NBC25 interview from March 1st.
NBC25 Fact Check: Taxing the poor and big business tax breaks
Maddow TMs claim that Snyder TMs budget will hurt the poor eludes to his proposal to do away with the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) which nearly 780,000 families and individuals got from the state in 2009, according to a Detroit Free Press report dated February 19, 2011.
However that same report quotes Snyder as making that move to redirect the saved $360 million in funding to vital Medicaid programs that benefit low-income families. Maddow left this out as well.
NBC25 Feedback: Do you agree with Maddow TMs take on Gov. Snyder? Or do you feel she left too much out? Comment here and share your thoughts!