Broadcasting from the Grand Hotel at the Mackinac Policy Conference, The Craig Fahle Show is collecting a range of guests from among the speakers, attendees and organizers. Here are what some of them had to say about Detroit’s bankruptcy and some related issues:
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) and Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) appeared together for the show. They said they expect the bills related to Detroit’s bankruptcy — including $195 million in state money toward pension funding — to pass the Michigan Senate.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson told Craig he’s upset about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s proposal in the city’s Plan of Adjustment to have suburban customers fund pensions for Detroit Water and Sewerage Department employees.
“The governor is here on the Island running around saying that’s a bargain, well hell yeah, it’s a bargain for the Detroit Water and Sewer board but not for the rate payers in my county,” Patterson says. “We’ve got 20, 30 years or so of mismanagement, fraud and waste, and I just think frankly much of this has been done under the watchful eye of the Department of Treasury that gives them the stability work out programs and allows them to go out and bond and borrow more and create more debt. I think the state should have a seat at the table. Why should they pass this off on the ratepayers that had nothing to do with the corruption?The state did have something to do, they did have a responsibility to monitor the Detroit Water and Sewer board because they extended them credit.”
Meanwhile, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said part of a problem related to Detroit’s Chapter 9 is a lack of understanding about the resulting financial issue for the region. “My job is to try to get (Detroit retirees living in Macomb County) to realize, ‘My god, Detroit is extremely important to Macomb County,’” Hackel said.
In addition, Hackel said Macomb County needs to address the pressing problems of infrastructure and outstanding pension obligations. The county “soon” will announce plans for addressing retiree health care.
Craig also spoke with with State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) and House Minority Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) about the “grand bargain” legislation and Detroit’s future. “I appreciate the Republican leadership to get the support for Detroit done,” says Greimel. Indeed, the bills were important for retirees, and both representatives told Craig that a fair and balanced package was more important than partisan divisions. “Detroit’s success will determine the success of southeast Michigan and the region as a whole,” Greimel says.
The Detroit bills have also led the legislature to realize that state priorities are just as much a priority as serving each district separately, they said. However, help from the state will have strings attached, and part of that will be state oversight. Bolger and Greimel both say that Detroit’s City Council and Mayor Duggan have been working hard, so state oversight doesn’t necessarily have to mean tight control.
Bolger is also scheduled to participate in a discussion Friday at the conference that will focus on resilience and strong leadership during and after Detroit’s bankruptcy.