LANSING (WWJ/AP) – While the protesters were outside, Governor Rick Snyder was inside the capital Wednesday signing into law a package of bills that gives emergency financial managers broad, some say dictatorial, powers.

Emergency financial managers are appointed by the state to take control of struggling municipalities and school districts.

Snyder said the bills will let the state offer help earlier when governments are in financial distress, instead of having to wait until they are on the brink of bankruptcy.

Democrats and labor leaders do not like the new law, especially a provision that enables financial managers to void public employee union contracts.

Many Democrats and labor unions say it is a state power grab that could set up virtual dictatorships and strip power from local elected officials.

UAW President Bob King said he has heard one thing in private about the Governor and quite another in public.

“He sold himself as being nonpartisan who is going to work with people and now he’s taking extreme actions that are anti-democratic and anti-middle class,” King said.

Mr. King, at a rally yesterday with about 2500 union folks in front of him, said the Synder policies balance budgets on the backs of the middle class.

The Governor insists the law is not an attack on organized labor or collective bargaining. 

The current state law related to emergency financial managers is affecting about a half-dozen local communities and schools at this time. Only Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Ecorse and the Detroit Public Schools have state-appointed emergency financial managers in place.

Critics from these districts claim the current law is not strong enough to do much good.

The new laws set up multiple triggers that could spark a state review of a local government or school’s finances. The triggers would include creditors with undisputed claims, defaulting on bonds, ending the year in a deficit or a resolution of the state House or Senate requesting a preliminary review.

The state treasurer’s office says the bill would allow the state to get information from local governments and start preliminary reviews more quickly, and supporters say many cases could be resolved without the appointment of an emergency manager.

Ultimately, the Governor would decide whether an emergency manager is appointed to a district. The manager then could modify or end union contracts, order elections to raise or extend property taxes or take a host of other actions.

A manager could also recommend that local governments consolidate and, with the Gov. Snyder’s approval, could “disincorporate or dissolve” a municipal government. Local elected officials would be stripped of significant powers.

However, supporters of the legislation say local officials could be removed from office only if they repeatedly refuse to comply with requests for information.

(Copyright 2011 WWJ Newsradio 950. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press Contributed To This Story.)

Comments (12)
  1. Frank says:

    Gov. Snyder now can impose a series of local dictatorships before he turns the whole state into a GOP dictatorship. Save democracy, people!

  2. Jille says:

    “Firing” those that were elected by the people cannot be tolerated, other than through recall. Watch your back Governor. I suspect you will not serve a full term in this state. Selling public properties to your pals who can name their own price is unacceptable. Michigan is not for sale. Every one of us that stood on the lawn of the Capitol yesterday represented hundreds who could not be there because they had to work to earn just barely a living wage. Your assault on public workers who have already given TOO MUCH to Wall Street and your corporate cronies have had enough! We are eagles who fly far higher than you vultures!

  3. Iblis Jones says:

    If I was shopping for a place to begin or move my business, Mr. Snyder’s insensitive, heavy handed and unilateral exercise of power would scare me away from Michigan. I would surmise that Michigan’s governor could change anything at any time and that would be a risk I could not accept. Just sayin.

  4. Porter says:

    The EFM also has authority to dissolve local ordinances, which would let them offer the community land and resources to corporations who want to come in and create a few low wage jobs. They also want to mandate privatization of public school bus systems and food services, This is a big transfer of public wealth to corporations, and if you don’t like it, forget calling your city council you voted for, they have been dissolved! Just shut the Hell up and trust Republicans! This is Fascism!

  5. No Representation Guy says:

    Hey People!

    For all of you crying about dissolving unions and overruling local elected officials, lets not forget that the EFM’s only come into play after many years of opportunities by all involved parties to resolve the issues. If the unions won’t compromise and the elected officials don’t have the guts to do the right thing, then the option of last resort is the EFM. As their title implies, they are called in when the situation has deteriorated so badly that it becomes an EMERGENCY. If the parties involved get reasonable instead of trying to selfishly look after their own best interests above those of the taxpayers in the community, then they deserve whatever actions the EFM undertakes. Honestly, it should never get to the point that an EFM is needed. If it does, its because the people in charge have failed the taxpayers and citizens. I believe that many EFM’s will become the heroes of the average taxpayer who is tired of their hard-earned money being squandered by greedy unions and gutless politicians. One need look no further than Detroit to see a great example of why strong EFM’s are needed. We should all thank the Governor for following through on his campaign promises to make the tough decisions that will put us all back on solid financial footings. Everyone has to sacrifice and that time has finally arrived for many unions and politicians that took advantage during times of economic success. Now that belts have to be tightened, they think they should be immune. I don’t know why they feel so entitled, but the time for this reality check is way overdue. Thank you Governor!

    1. john says:

      I hope you’re looking at the specific cuts proposed in Snyder’s budget and thinking about the domino effect they will have on numerous communities before you make comments about entitlement and EFMs. Whether pro- union or anti-union, the proposed cuts will surely put many more cities and many more school districts in the red thus forcing an EFM on them. Anyone making less than $150K is going to take a serious hit while corporations will essentially get free money with no incentives or pressure to hire. Snyder said this morning in his interview with WWJ that there are only “a handful” of communities that will currently be getting an EFM, but he did not address how many more will be getting one in the future if his proposed cuts go through. He says the EFMs will be a last ditch effort, but based on his budget, he will be creating those situations more than he’s fixing them. Scary…

  6. wammerjammer says:

    I listened to Gov. Snyder’s interview on WWJ this morning, and needless to say was sorely disappointed. He dodged almost every question and answered repeatedly with a very generic, “We’re making positive change for the future.” Given my occupation, if his budget gets passed, I will have to take a serious look at whether I can afford to continue living in Michigan, and I suspect I’m not the only person who will do that.

    1. Jille says:

      If we made a drinking game out of Governor Snyder’s buzzwords today we’d be passed out drunk by noon. His tax cuts are choking our towns and schools and when they can’t breathe he’ll force dictatorships or corporations to swoop in and take them over. He’s taking the people’s voice out completely. This is NOT about unions. This is NOT about money. He’s part of the plan to eradicate the middle class. “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention!”

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