BIRMINGHAM (WWJ) – Speaking before a packed room, Thursday, at a meeting of the “Big Four,” Detroit Mayor Dave Bing reiterated that he does not want a Lansing-appointed Emergency Financial Manager doing his job.
“Myself and City Council have the responsibility to run the city to the best of our ability, and I believe that we can do that. We’re having our problems, no doubt — the whole budgetary process that I’m confronted with,” Bing said.
“There are too many people who think we’re going to cut our way out of the problems that we’re having, and I don’t believe that,” the Mayor said.
Mayor Bing made those comments as he joined the leaders of Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties for a “Pancakes and Politics” session at Birmingham’s Townsend Hotel.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said if Mayor Bing doesn’t want an EFM, he doesn’t want it, either. Patterson added he is trying to work with the mayor to give any help possible.
Michigan’s new Governor was also a hot topic, Thursday.
Bing said he’s not ready to “grade” Governor Rick Snyder’s job performance just yet. But, he said the governor could score points by restoring Brownfield and the Earned Income Tax credits.
However, Bing said he knows that everyone will have to give up something to solve the state’s budget problems.
“If we’re going to make the changes that are necessary, there’s going to be pain. And the best thing that we can do is spread the pain around as best that we can, and try to get our state and our cities and our counties back on a sound foundation,” he said.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said he would not criticize the governor, but added there are some proposals he does not support. He joked he “is not a teacher,” so he wouldn’t give a grade for Snyder’s work thus far.
Patterson joked, “He (Hackel) is a politician.” Patterson said he would give Snyder “an A+.”
Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano said a grade for the governor is “incomplete, but did say he doesn’t agree with the cuts in the Film Industry Tax Credits and Brownfield Tax Credits.
The audience served up some questions about what to do about the state’s business tax, which Governor Snyder has said he wants to reform.
Patterson likened the state’s economy to a horse-drawn carriage.
“Over the years, the horse being the business community… we’ve been putting boulders in that wagon in the form of taxes. And, pretty soon, that horse gets tired. You can wear that horse out, and he’ll even collapse if you over-burden that wagon,” Patterson said.
“And many of the horses, that are small businesses, have left the state to get away from that load they’ve been carrying,” he said.
While Patterson said there should be less regulation, Bing said access to capital is key for small businesses.
Speaking on the future of the region, Mayor Bing and Patterson agreed that education is key.
Bing said there are adults who came through the Detroit Public Schools system who are illiterate. He said there must be advancements in adult literacy and the focus can’t just be on K-12 students.
Patterson highlighted the new medical school partnership involving Oakland University and Beaumont Hospital. Patterson said there were 3,300 applicants for 50 spots in the new school.
Ficano said Wayne County is working with universities and colleges about areas of need for employers.
Another major agenda item, Thursday, was transportation in the region. Ficano, Bing and Hackel all said public transportation is key to economic development.
Patterson said he has supported a regional transportation system, but he also highlighted Automation Alley and a new law enforcement communications system, CLEMIS, which allows all police agencies in Oakland County to communicate.
Earlier this week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced almost $200 million for high-speed rail in Michigan — something he and some other elected officials say will create hundreds of jobs in the state.