Rutledge Dismayed at House Support for Emergency Manager Bills

Lawmaker fights plan that will hurt local governments, school districts
Thursday, February 24, 2011

LANSING – State Representative David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) today expressed his deep opposition to legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday that would grant emergency managers unchecked control over communities in financial disaster status. The legislative package was sent to the Senate for consideration.

“I am deeply concerned about the potential long-term damage this legislation could have on our local communities,” Rutledge said. “Local governments in financial stress should have access to resources and support from the state so that solutions can be found collaboratively before communities are forced into emergency status. Instead of offering support, this legislation would give emergency managers unlimited power.”

The legislation was considered last week by the Committee on Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs. Rutledge voted against the legislation in committee and again on Wednesday on the House Floor.

The bills would give emergency managers new powers, including the ability to sell a local government’s assets, terminate labor contracts, and remove pension board trustees without voter approval. The legislation also allows whole private companies to serve as a local government’s emergency manager. The emergency manager would only be accountable to the state treasurer, and would not be required to collaborate with local elected officials, labor unions, or community members in making decisions.

“Many communities throughout our state are facing significant financial issues through no fault of their own,” Rutledge said. “Unstable state funding to local governments and an unpredictable economy should not mean voters lose their right to make decisions about their own community.”