As Governor Snyder touts Michigan’s economy, local municipalities and families circle the drain

In an interview with The Associated Press last week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder pointed out that Michigan’s economy is moving in the right direction.

Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday that people should be aware of Michigan’s continued economic recovery even as the state grapples with lead in Flint’s drinking water and the Detroit public school district’s huge debt. .

The Republican governor, while acknowledging his administration’s “challenges”, said he was trying to “set the tone we need to be more positive and proactive.” He said the state‘s 4.8% unemployment rate held steady despite adding 104,000 people looking for work, and its personal per capita income growth was the fourth-fastest fast in the United States last year.

“We are implementing solutions in Flint. We are working hard on a solution for Detroit public schools and education in Detroit,” Snyder told The Associated Press in an interview at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual three-day policy conference on Mackinac Island. .

In a speech the same week at the Mackinac Policy Conference, Governor Snyder is expected to keep his eyes on the future, not the past. He lambasted the media for being too negative, saying listening to them “was like talking to Eeyore”. “Reports of my disappearance are greatly exaggerated,” he told the audience.

While Governor Snyder’s disappearance may be “exaggerated” (at least in his mind), the disappearance of our cities, towns and townships is not. And the disappearance of the middle class is not in our beautiful state either. In fact, they are hovering around the drain, in large part because of the policies put in place and/or continued by Governor Snyder and his colleagues in the state legislature.

The folks at the Michigan Municipal League (MML) analyzed census data from 2002 to 2012 — the most recent period for which data is available — and found that our state’s revenue increased by 39%. However, local municipalities have seen a shocking drop of nearly 60% in revenue. In fact, Michigan is the state that has divested the least from its local municipalities of the 50 states. Here’s what it looks like graphically:

That little red line on the far right showing the only state with a DROP in municipal revenue? This is us here in Michigan.

All other states saw their municipal revenues increase. But not us. Why the fall? Money returning to the states in the form of revenue sharing is the main cause. Here is that graph:

Again, Michigan “leads” the way.

The MML has a terrific website – SaveMICity.org – which contains much more data and analysis on the demise of municipalities in our state. When you watch it, you’ll understand that my use of the phrase “go around the drain” is not hyperbole. This doesn’t even take into account the scale of the ongoing tragedies in Flint, Detroit and our other urban centers or the incredibly high level of disinvestment in our schools statewide.

What is the result of this deliberate effort to divest from our cities? This means that local municipalities are forced to cut services and/or raise taxes just to stay afloat.

It also has a devastating impact on our state’s middle class. A study released last month by the Pew Research Center shows that Michigan is “leading” the way by shrinking its middle class, widening the gap between haves and have-nots, and pushing more and more families into poverty:

The middle class in the United States has been shrinking since 2000, and nowhere is this trend more evident than in Michigan, according to a study released this week by the Pew Research Center.

Which makes Michigan’s numbers particularly worrying: In three-quarters of the US metro areas analyzed, the shrinking middle class has been partially offset by an increase in wealthy households, a trend that hasn’t occurred in most from Michigan.

Adjusted for household size and inflation, Michigan’s median household income fell 17% between 1999 and 2014 – from a median of $75,370 in 1999 to $62,608 in 2014 – the biggest drop among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Pew study.

In 1999, Michigan ranked ninth for median household income in the United States. By 2014, the state had fallen to No. 30, according to Pew data.

The result is that Michigan families have less income to survive while their local municipality has fewer resources to provide essential services, all at a time when state revenues have actually increased by 39%. As Flint’s water crisis and the collapse of our public education system roosters come home — both created by Republican policies, by the way — things are only going to get worse.

But, hey, Michigan corporations got $1.6 billion annual tax reduction. So, in the eyes of the corporate Republicans who run our state, all is well.

Keep that in mind as we head into election time. You have a choice to make: continue down the same path with the same corporate puppets calling all the shots or make a change and hand the responsibility over to people who genuinely care about the future of our state, who value the public education and who actually care if our local governments can continue to be sustainable.

Divestment vs investment. People versus business.

It’s up to us to choose.

In the meantime, don’t let Governor Snyder’s cheery speech lead you to believe that our state is headed in the right direction. Under his “direction”, rather the opposite is true.

And emphasizing this does not make me an “Eeyore”.

In the meantime, there is this:

UPDATE: Shortly after posting this article, I received an email from Governor Snyder’s “Relentless Positive Action PAC” (RPAPAC) asking for money. The title of the email was “Governor. Snyder: Michigan revitalization can be a model for the United States”

This is EXACTLY why the rest of the country needs to pay attention to what is happening in our state. Michigan is the beta testing ground for corporate governance and everyone in the United States should pay VERY close attention to what happens here, lest it be YOUR future as well.

Incidentally, in the email, Governor Snyder brags that Michigan has the “lowest unemployment rate in 15 years” and how it “balanced a $1.5 billion deficit and lower taxes for small businesses”.

As I said before, low unemployment coupled with rising wages is the dream scenario for corporatists. Also, Governor Snyder and the Republicans failed to balance a $1.5 billion deficit. Our state constitution prohibits the state from running a deficit. We literally never had one. Finally, yes, he reduced taxes for small businesses. And medium-sized businesses. And big business. And huge companies. They EVERYTHING got a tax reduction“YOU get a tax cut!” And YOU benefit from a tax reduction!…”) Republicans did it by taking more than a billion dollars a year from public education and raising taxes on more than half of our state’s citizens, including a new tax on senior citizens with pensions.

Governor Snyder has good public relations, I grant him that.