Michigan Senate OKs new emergency manager bill
Hillsdale Republican Sen. Bruce Caswell said he voted no because he was "following the dictates" of his constituents who voted against the emergency manager bill.
Opponents also contended the measure was being rushed similar to the way right-to-work legislation reducing union strength sailed through the legislative process in recent days amid widespread protests at the Capitol. But supporters noted that the emergency manager bill was considered during a committee hearing this month.
Johnson echoed a feeling of helplessness among Democrats, but he vowed it would be temporary.
"Our grievances will be settled at the next ballot," Johnson said. "Continue to do what you're doing if you want to give away this majority ... and the governorship."
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville disputed critics' claims that it's merely a rehash of the failed law with poisonous extras.
"There are very different paths they can take," he said. "These are usually people who are in a situation that has a financial emergency. They're saying, 'Don't help us, don't help us, and you give us another option, we don't like that either.' The problem isn't being solved."
Richardville said the only option some local officials are leaving themselves is bankruptcy.
"And they'll have the option to choose that if they want, but I don't think they'd be representing their people very well if they did that," he said.
The new emergency manager proposal was announced last week on the same day that Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon said he'll likely order a review of Detroit's municipal finances, a 30-day process that could lead to a state takeover of its largest city that's deep in debt and has a budget deficit of more than $200 million.
Since the spring, Detroit and the state have been partners in a consent agreement that allows limited state oversight of Mayor Dave Bing's fiscal restructuring plans. Tied to the deal is millions of dollars in bond money held in escrow by the treasurer's office and released to Detroit when certain benchmarks are achieved.
The deal averted the placement of an emergency financial manager in Detroit.
Managers are in place in Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, Pontiac and Allen Park, as well as in the Muskegon Heights, Highland Park and Detroit school districts.
Lou Schimmel, Pontiac's emergency financial manager, said the new legislation will give him the authority to pass ordinances and deal with labor matters, and without those powers "you can't fix the problems."
Associated Press writer Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this report.
Follow Jeff Karoub on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jeffkaroub
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