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Michigan's Veto Referendum on the 'Emergency Manager Law'

Michigan voters can vote 'No' to repeal the undemocratic measure

- Common Dreams staff

The Basics

On Election Day Michigan voters will vote on whether to keep the state's controversial emergency manager law, also known as Public Act 4 of 2011, when they vote on Proposal 1.

The contentious law allows for a a state-appointed emergency manager to be placed in school districts and local governments of financially struggling areas, and gives these managers sweeping powers including the ability to get rid of union contracts, dissolve local governments, sell public utilities and slash budgets.

Proposal 1 on the 2012 ballot asks voters if they want to veto the act.

In April, opponents of the measure gathered the necessary number of signatures to put a veto referendum on this November's ballot.

The statewide ballot proposal reads:

Public Act 4 of 2011 would:

  • Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
  • Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.
  • Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.
  • Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved consent decree.

Should this law be approved?

YES

NO

Yes on Proposal 1

Conservative Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says:

"Public Act 4 helps financially struggling cities and school districts to get back on track," Snyder said. "If the emergency manager law were to go away, debt in those local units of government would continue to pile up, bills would go unpaid, paychecks may not be sent, lights could be turned off, police and fire protection might not be provided, and students would be at risk of not having a school to attend. Michigan needs this law because it helps those communities to efficiently and effectively overcome financial problems and avoid painful long-term solutions, and that is good for all Michiganders."

No on Proposal 1

StandUp4Democracy writes:

One of the most important parts of our democracy is the ability for voters to have local control. They can elect people from their community, people they know, to serve on their city councils or school boards. With the emergency manager law, voters can be completely stripped of that power, and outsiders appointed by the Governor will have more power in communities they don't even live in, without the approval of voters who live there.

The emergency manager legislation has zero oversight and zero accountability. Under this law, it is entirely up to the governor to have his political appointees go into communities and do what they want to change rules for their schools and governments, local tax rates, cancel contracts and sell off community assets. These financial managers don't need one bit of approval from the legislature, local leaders, or even voters to make these drastic changes.

Public Polling on Michigan's Veto Referendum on the Emergency Manager Law

DATE POLLSTER YES NO UNDECIDED
10/26-10/29 Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV 35% 43% 18%