Revenue-Sharing Cuts on the Table

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

Michigan cities and townships have relied on the state to share revenue with them for years, but with the state now facing a $1.8 billion deficit, political analyst Jeff Williams says those funds may be dwindling.

"Can the state afford anymore to continue to make payments to locals when, locals, if they say they're short money, can raise their own taxes?" Williams asked.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says that would uneven the playing field between municipalities.

"The idea was you don't want a hodge podge, you don't want one community wildly different in tax systems than another," Bernero said.

He hopes the new governor and legislature understand how crucial the money is.

"Another word for state revenue sharing is the vital local servies fund. It is police, and fire, and road maintenance to a lesser extent," he said.

Ten years ago the city of Lansing got around $21 million in shared revenue from the state. That number has been steadily declining, down to about $14 million for 2011. And the governor's office says there's no guarantee it'll stop there.

"We all know how important revenue sharing is and the important service it provides. We also know we have a tremendous deficit so we have to look at all areas," said Geralyn Lasher, Governor Rick Snyder's spokesperson.

House Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas agrees.

"Revenue sharing is going to be part of that, but where it falls, at this point it's a little early to say," he said.

Mayor Bernero says if more revenue sharing cuts are on their way, he needs to know, especially given Lansing's $15 million dollar deficit. Williams says the cuts seem inevitable.

"If you have to choose between state police and revenue sharing, or the school districts and prisons. There are no easy answers," he said.

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