In a victory for progressives in the State of Michigan, voters narrowly rejected a law that would have allowed the governor to appoint an “emergency manager” to take over financially troubled municipalities. The legislation had already been signed into law as Public Act 4 by GOP Governor Rick Snyder, but was repealed by the Election Day referendum, which asked voters to vote “yes” on Proposal 1 to ratify Public Act 4. The “emergency manager” was to be given carte blanche for breaking union contracts, cutting municipal workers’ pensions, and selling off public assets to balance local government budgets. Of course, the possibility of raising taxes to cover shortfalls was not on the menu.
According to Jonathan Oosting from Michigan Live, “Proposal 1 appeared to be in good standing last night in the early hours after the polls closed, but late returns from Wayne County flipped the totals and toppled the law” by a slender 52% to 48% margin. Public Act 4 was suspended back in August, when Stand Up for Democracy and other opponents of Public Act 4 “won a court decision to have the referendum placed on the ballot,” and Oosting explains that Stand Up was mostly funded by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and other union groups.
Tony Paris, Stand Up’s lead attorney, told the Huffington Post:
“The reality is that the crisis results from decades of financial deregulation, policies transferring wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy. Regardless of varying levels of failures on behalf of local officials … the burdens of inadequate investment, employment, education, health care, law enforcement, housing, tax policy, insurance red-lining and transportation are far more the cause.”
According to the Michigan League of Reponsible Voters, Proposal 1 was supported by Snyder, the Independent Tea Party Patriots, and other Tea Party-affliliated groups.