Revenue meeting paints bleak outlook for Michigan into 2022

The state has a $3.2 billion hole in its current budgets, public finance experts testified today before the state’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. The conference is used to set revenue targets for elected officials each year. Of that gap, $2 billion is in the state’s roughly $11 billion General Fund, which finances a wide variety of services that counties are mandated to provide.

The outlook for FY21 is little better, with the experts seeing another $3 billion combined revenue drop for the General Fund and School Aid Fund. For FY22, which begins Oct. 1, 2021, the shortfall should be $2 billion.

Data and conclusions provided Friday by the University of Michigan, the Center for Automotive Research, the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies, the Michigan Department of Treasury and the State Budget Office included:

  • 22% of the state’s population is unemployed; and that level will persist through the end of June 2020
  • The state’s payroll tax revenue will be down 9% for FY20
  • One in seven businesses across Michigan will close, resulting in the loss of about 4.9% of jobs in the state
  • Light vehicle sales will be down 50% compared to last year, but should rebound to 2019 levels in 2021 

With only four months left in the current fiscal year, serious decisions about cuts to the programs, services and departments supported by the state’s General Fund are imminent. Of the $3.2 billion FY20 shortfall, about $2 billion is in the General Fund. And the $1.2 billion gap in the School Aid Fund will put additional pressure on lawmakers to find more savings in the General Fund.

Restoring a balanced state budget, as required by law, can happen via a negative supplemental appropriations bill advanced by the Legislature or an executive order from the governor, which only would need approval by the House and Senate Appropriations committees, not the full chambers. The specifics of cuts, and the mechanism to enact them, are not yet apparent.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Supplemental could provide $1,000 per first responder

Public safety workers could get $1,000 payments under the terms of Senate Bill 690, sponsored by Appropriations Chairman Jim Stamas (R-Midland), which was unanimously approved by the Senate this week.

If the bill is also approved by the House and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in its current form, first responders could get the payments if their local employers agrees to it, thus qualifying for reimbursement via the state dollars.

The bill allocates more than $500 million of the $3.8 billion of federal COVID relief Funding. It includes large support for counties and their front-line workers, including:

  • $100 million for up to $1,000 one-time, either lump sum or hourly, bonus payments for local public safety officers (police, fire, EMT, 911 etc.) under the following conditions –
  • Requires bonuses be paid by September 30, 2020
  • Allows local units until December 31, 2020, to apply for reimbursement through Treasury
  • Requires that reimbursements be made on a first-come, first-served basis and that the payment be made no later than 45 days after all required information is submitted
  • Sets a maximum award of $5 million to any city, township, village, or county
  • $178M in temporary pay increase for direct care workers as follows –
  • Those already receiving $2/hour under the governor’s order would receive $1 more for $3/hour total
  • Nursing home workers added to receive $3/hour increase (this includes county medical care facilities)
  • Eligibility would be until Sept. 30 and retroactive to April 1
  • $62 million for PPE and testing needs for:
  • Meat plants and other agricultural processing centers
  • Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Other entities included in DHHS prioritization guidance
  • $125 million in financial help for childcare providers and impacted families
  • $11 million in funding for UIA to hire 300 temporary workers to handle unemployment claims
  • $2.5 million to the Replenish Hospitality Employee Fund to help restaurant workers adversely impacted by closures

 

House committee advances trial court funding bill

Statutory authority extending the ability for Michigan’s trial courts to levy fees, is one step closer to the governor’s desk. This week, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved House Bill 5488, by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson), thereby keeping court funding stable until long-term reforms can be enacted.

The bill originally extended the authority until October of 2023, but after some committee members expressed concerned with the three-year extension, the bill was amended for a two-year extension. MAC supports this change and encourages the Legislature to continue swift action to ensure a long-term funding solution for our courts.

The state’s Trial Court Funding Commission said court costs “directly account for as high as $291 million annually in support (most of the 26.2 percent generated). Additionally, approximately $127 million of the annual funds transferred from the State originate from court assessments at sentencing. When totaled, Michigan trial courts are supported, in significant part, by over $418 million assessed to criminal defendants.”

The Commission also reported “findings from the survey of local funding units show that the total cost of Michigan’s court system (outside of the supreme court and court of appeals) amounts to between $1.14 billion and $1.44 billion.” Of the total amount, the percentage of local court operations expenses covered by state general fund is 2.24%. The report calls for a rebalancing of state and local funds and makes recommendations for the Legislature to consider for a stable court funding system.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Governor extends deadlines on property tax disputes

A Board of Review now has until July 21, 2020, to hear property tax disputes under a new order (Executive Order 87) issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Thursday night.

The order also directs that Board of Review decisions are due by Sept. 1, 2020. Further, EO 87 pushes back the deadline for commercial and industrial real and personal property tax disputes from May 31, 2020, to July 31, 2020.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org

 

Skilled nursing facilities move into Lansing focus this week

Senate Bill 899, by Sen. Michael McDonald (R-Macomb), which would provide immunity for certain health care workers from civil or criminal liability during the declared COVID-19 state of emergency, or through Sept. 30, 2020, whichever is later, was debated before the House Judiciary Committee this week.

The bill already has passed on party lines in the Senate and many Democratic members of the House committee questioned whether a bill to codify legal protections for hospitals treating new coronavirus patients would protect workers as much as it aimed to protect the hospitals themselves from potential lawsuits. The bill is supported by hospitals and doctors but is opposed by union groups representing hospital staff.

The bill is expected to come before the committee for a vote next week, but uncertain if there will be any changes at this point.

Also this week, the Senate Oversight Committee met regarding the governor’s executive order related to nursing homes (EO 50). Committee members focused on the operation of regional hubs created in the order and questioned Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon and other senior officials at DHHS. A full video of the committee hearing can be found here. 

The governor did re-issue orders, rescinding EO 50 and 51, and extending “capacity for disaster relief child care services for essential workforce” and “protecting residents and staff in long-term care facilities.” The new versions are: 

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

There’s still time to sign up for next Treasury webinar on May 18

In partnership with the Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association, the Michigan Department of Treasury is pleased to announce the third joint webinar, “COVID-19 Updates and Resources for Local Governments,” at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 18.

Topics will include an update after the state of Michigan’s May Michigan Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference, an update from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) on project timelines and financing and best practices around local government cash and debt management.

Participants can register and submit questions on the webinar’s registration page.

Each webinar is limited to 1,000 attendees. With previous webinars reaching capacity limits, participants are strongly encouraged to register early.

A fourth webinar is tentatively scheduled for Monday, June 8. Additional information and registration details about this June webinar will be sent in the coming weeks.

The state Treasury Department has developed a website with numbered letters, communications and resources regarding COVID-19 information for local governments and school districts. This website was created to ensure that Michigan communities have access to the most up-to-date guidance and will be updated frequently with information and resources as they become available.

 

Prosecutors group: Governor’s orders valid unless court says otherwise

The Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) – an association consisting of all 83 elected county prosecutors and affiliate member of MAC – issued a statement Wednesday that said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Orders remain in force.

In the statement, PAAM acknowledged the legal challenge brought by the State Legislature against Governor Whitmer over her authority to issue Executive Orders but stated that, because no court has issued a ruling, “the Executive Orders are still in force.”  

This statement comes after Attorney General Nessel issued similar guidance on May 5 to law enforcement across the state where she found the two orders – Stay Home, Stay Safe Order (2020-70) and Places of Public Accommodation Order (2020-69) – to be valid under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act and asked local law enforcement agencies to continue their enforcement efforts.   

Oral argument was heard today by Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens in Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate v Whitmer, (Case No. 20-000079).

No timeline was set for a decision in the case.

 

Jail Task Force issues memo on gaining COVID funds

Michigan’s Jail and Pretrial Task Force has released a memo to county and city officials as they consider spending options from Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding through the federal Bureau of Justice. Some counties were eligible for funding directly through the federal government, but the remainder will be funded through the state allocation. The Michigan State Police is the lead agency and will provide more information to MAC members when the application and information are available. Until then, county leaders can begin thinking about innovative ways to use funds, with this memo as a reference point.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Opioid summit information posted to web

The Center for Behavioral Health and Justice at Wayne State University thanks the 360 people who joined us for the first ever Opioid Treatment Ecosystem Community of Practice Summit on May 5, 2020. We have attached a copy of the presentation slides and responses to your questions from the Q&A portion of the event.

Watch the full recording of the event or navigate to a specific section here. 

 

Governor extends State of Emergency, court battle looms

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed new Executive Orders Thursday night to extend Michigan’s State of Emergency and Disaster Declarations until May 28.

EO 66 terminated the previous State of Emergency (SOE) order that expired April 30. EO 67 states that Michigan remains under an SOE via the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which, unlike the Emergency Management Act of 1976, has no time limit on a declaration and no requirement for the Legislature to extend the declaration. The governor also issued EO 68, which declares the new State of Emergency and disaster under the Emergency Management Act through May 28.

Also, limits on places such as bars, restaurants and theaters are extended for the duration of the SOE under EO 69. The order continues to allow businesses to offer food and beverage using delivery service and takeout services.

Meanwhile, Republican majorities in the Legislature adopted HR 250 (Rep. Hernandez R-St. Clair) and SR 114 (Sen. Stamas, R-Midland), which authorize legal action on behalf of each legislative chamber against the governor for taking steps to extend the SOE.

With a court fight looming, Gongwer News Service reported, “Not only do several attorneys who have worked in state government for both parties say the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act clearly empowers the governor to put the state under an emergency and issue necessary rules and orders to address the situation without legislative approval, there’s also a theory that Ms. Whitmer could simply issue a new declaration under the Emergency Management Act with that declaration good for 28 days with nothing the Legislature can do, as long as she can point to new circumstances.”

In other actions on Thursday:

  • The Legislature sent Senate Bill 858 to the governor, which codifies some EOs issued for various dates between April and July, while not addressing six of the governor’s orders, including the Stay at Home order. Bars, restaurants and other similar businesses would be able to open on May 16 under the legislation. Other key orders that would continue under the bill include protocols for prisons and jails (EO 62 through July 30) and restrictions for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities (EO 50 until July 30). The governor announced she intends to veto this bill.
  • The House passed House Bill 5709 (Rep. Sheppard, R-Monroe), which would make disobeying a rule, order or directive issue by the governor a civil infraction, rather than the current misdemeanor, and allowing a fine of up to $100. The bill specifically says the statutory fine would take precedence over language of any order stating that the violation would constitute a misdemeanor.

 

< div id=”federal”>

NACo leader touts ‘3 T’s’ and ‘guardrails’ for next federal rescue bill

In final event of 2020 Virtual Legislative Conference, the head of the National Association of Counties urged Michigan leaders to contact their members of Congress to back a “CARES Act 2.0” measure that would include $125 billion in direct aid to counties.

Matt Chase, NACo executive director, said the U.S. House is expected to take the lead on the bill. “Bipartisanship support for local aid is building,” Chase said. “But we need to keep up the pressure.”

Chase said NACo’s message to Congress centered on two themes right now:

  • Focus on the 3 T’s of testing, tracing and treatment
  • Counties want “guardrails, not third rails,” a response to criticism by some lawmakers that local governments want to use COVID funds to handle longstanding and unrelated fiscal issues, such as pensions

Chase said NACo supports the creation of a federal ombudsman or rapid response team in the 2.0 bill to give counties immediate answers on whether a specific use of federal funds was appropriate. “We are totally for accountability.”

The discussion was the final event of MAC’s two-week Virtual Legislative Conference, launched after the association was forced to cancel its traditional in-person event in Lansing. All eight virtual events can be viewed 24/7 by visiting the conference page on our website.

“Matt’s comments were an excellent cap to our conference,” said MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie. “We averaged 40 to 50 people viewing each event live, and we know far more will view them at their convenience later.”

 

Maximize your use of MAC’s heat map to track COVID’s advance

MAC members are encouraged to regularly visit micounties.org to use the COVID tracking heat map put together for us by Munetrix. The map has many features of which members may not be aware.

For example, using the cases per 100,000 residents function (see images), you can see the advance of COVID while adjusting for population. Some notable results in this feature:

  • Otsego and Crawford counties have rates approaching 400 cases per 100,000 residents
  • Shiawassee, Hillsdale, Tuscola, Lapeer, St. Clair, Iosco and Alpena counties are near or over the 200 cases per 100,000 residents rate

The highest county rate remains Wayne with 1,783 cases per 100,000 residents; five UP counties (Alger, Baraga, Iron, Keweenaw and Ontonagon) show a rate of 0 cases, when adjusting for population. (All figures are from the state’s April 30 report.)

In related news this week:

  • AP and Crain’s Detroit both reported that four rural counties — Arenac, Branch, Lapeer and Mecosta —had ICUs that were at 100 percent capacity on Monday.
  • Crain’s Chad Livengood noted on Thursday, “In the past 10 days, there’s been a 169% increase in positive cases in Kent County, +230% in Ionia County, +133% in Allegan, + 85% in Muskegon, +97% in Kalamazoo, +57% in Branch, +54% in Calhoun, +51% in Berrien (and) +48% in Van Buren.”
  • A University of Maryland tracker on social distancing has shown a clear downward trend for Michigan: On March 30, Michigan scored a 64 out of 100 on its index, which “represents the extent residents and visitors are practicing social distancing.” On April 13, the score had risen to 66. Since then, Michigan has seen a steady decline, hitting 57 on April 20, 52 on April 27 and 48 on April 28 (last date available).

For more information on MAC’s heat map, including the software code if you wish to embed the map on your own county’s website, contact MAC’s Derek Melot at melot@micounties.org.

 

MAC sets May 6 webinar to aid counties on return-to-work plans

Counties continue their planning to return more employees to on-site operations. In a webinar on May 6, experts from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) will walk participants through MMRMA’s COVID-19 Model Response Plan and then take questions from MAC members.

To pre-register for this event, click here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 

Wave of property tax forgiveness bills hits State Capitol

With 25 percent of Michigan’s work force unemployed and continued uncertainty about when the state will reopen, legislators are advancing property tax relief measures that would affect counties: 

  • House Bill 5705 (Rep. Yaroch, R-Macomb) would exempt property taxes for second homes during the period of time owners were banned from utilizing that property. 
  • House Bill 5738 (Rep. Elder, D-Bay) would allow county treasurers to temporarily suspend strict compliance with the foreclosure process and extend the redemption deadline for 30 days after the State of Emergency is lifted.
  • House Bill 5750 (Rep. Sheppard, R-Monroe) and Senate Bill 901 (Sen. Stamas, R-Midland) seek to codify the governor’s Executive Order granting an extension to the date by which a property owner must make payment to redeem property in foreclosure until May 20, 2020, or 30 days after the termination of the State of Emergency.
  • House Bill 5761 (Rep. Lower, R-Montcalm) would waive interest, penalties, fees and late charges for unpaid property taxes levied in 2020 until the property reaches delinquency status. It also allows local units to apply to the Michigan Department of Treasury for reimbursement.  Funds would have to be appropriated to the department for such purpose. However, with the projected $3 billion deficit the state is facing for FY20 alone, such an appropriation is unlikely.

County governments, while always seeking to make payment arrangements so owners can stay in their homes, rely on the approximate $15 billion in property taxes collected each year to provide the services our communities require. Losing these revenues for extended periods would inevitably put more pressure on county budgets and create serious cash flow issues.

Additional grace periods for foreclosures due to access issues with county offices are workable in the short term, but an overall exemption for taxes for any period of time is not; removing penalties for non-payment of taxes that sweep in residential and commercial properties regardless of hardship would cripple county revenues.

MAC opposes HB 5705 and is carefully studying the other measures.

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Return of construction work has counties staffing up

With an Executive Order expected at any time to allow for most construction work to resume during the State of Emergency, county leaders across Michigan are pulling in staff to ensure building departments are ready for regulatory and permit requests

A flood of requests is expected on May 7, the expected date of the easing of restrictions on the industry.  

Some counties have asked staff to return to work already in order to prepare. Many administrators and building department staff are working on formalizing protocols: some counties will interface with the public by appointment-only, while some will open the county building and follow social-distancing protocols and require face masks.

So far, at least 12 counties have confirmed plans to resume building inspections by May 7. 

 

Enbridge moves ahead with Line 5 permitting process

Enbridge has filed a new state permit application with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) that would allow work to begin sooner on the tunnel that will house the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

The energy firm is seeking a declaratory ruling from the MPSC it already has the authority to relocate the pipeline to the new tunnel, which would sidestep a lengthy approval process that could take an additional year. MPSC is now holding two weeks of public comment, which opponents of the pipeline say is an attempt to diminish public input on a controversial topic during a global pandemic. Representatives from Enbridge say they are working to stay on the schedule that was agreed to in 2018 under Gov. Rick Snyder and “have been communicating with state and federal agencies to ensure we remained aligned in terms of the timing of this application.”

This comes weeks after the U.P. Energy Task Force, created by Executive Order by Gov. Whitmer, released an initial report outlining alternatives to Line 5, such as increasing propane reserves, utilizing railroad lines, and more.

The public comment period for Enbridge’s request ends May 13.

For more information, contact Michael Ruddock at ruddock@micounties.org.

 

18 mental health entities get federal help under Stabenow bill

Eighteen Michigan community mental health organizations have been selected as Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced this week. Michigan will receive $54,452,014 in new funding for the clinics.

Stabenow’s announcement is a result of the passage of the “Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act,” which she sponsored.  Stabenow discussed this important legislation and upcoming funding with Michigan county leaders during a MAC-sponsored briefing with her in March on Capitol Hill.

The Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, a MAC affiliate member, praised Stabenow’s efforts in support of continued funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC):

“The recent SAMHSA announcement totaling over $54 million designates 18 Michigan organizations as CCBHC sites. Some of these sites are current CCBHC sites who have received continuation funding; some are newly designated CCBHC sites. These funds will allow those organizations to provide much needed community-based and integrated services for the people in their communities at a time when service demands are at an all-time high.”

For more information, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Local governments will make $1.1B ask to governor in letter

MAC joined with associations for Michigan’s cities, villages and townships today on a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to advise on distribution of federal aid to local governments dealing with the corona pandemic.

The letter, signed by Executive Director Stephan Currie and his counterparts at the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association, said, “Your letter to the White House correctly identifies a major concern that local governments around Michigan are preparing to face. As you are aware, Michigan’s local governments bore the brunt of the last recession and many are ill-positioned to face another economic downturn without significant support from the state and federal government. With that fact in mind, our three organizations respectfully request that you designate a significant portion of the current CARES Act funding the state is set to receive to cover local government reimbursements and recovery expenses resulting from the current pandemic.”

The groups added, “We urge the state to set aside an equitable amount of money for local units of government to draw down upon to reimburse their eligible, COVID-related expenses. Based on the amount the CARES Act made available to our largest members, we ask that an equitable per capita amount, equal to approximately $1.1 billion, be made available to all other local units of government in Michigan to cover these expenses.”

For more information on this issue, contact MAC’s Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Chief justice opens 2020 Virtual Legislative Conference

Highlighted by a presentation from Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, MAC’s 2020 Virtual Legislative Conference started its two-week run on Thursday, April 16.

McCormack detailed her work on a variety of reforms in the judicial branch, particularly the actions taken to reduce the threat to jails posed by corona and administrative orders to allow for virtual court proceedings to help protect the public health.

Best practices for boards was the subject of the second event on Thursday, a workshop led by John Amrhein of MSU Extension on “extraordinary governance.”

Following his presentation, Amrhein took up a variety of questions from commissioners looking for tips on how to boost engagement of their county colleagues.

On Friday, Harmony Gmazel of MSU Extension led a workshop on economic development strategies.

“The first wave is complete,” said Stephan Currie, MAC Executive Director. “We had some glitches, but attendance was strong and pre-registrations for next week’s events are looking good, too.”

The conference resumes on Tuesday, April 21 with a workshop on addressing rising waters in Michigan.

For complete details, including videos of conference events, visit the conference page

 

Governor, Senate Republicans offer thoughts on reopening economy

While COVID-19 will be with us for months to come, Michigan leaders have been planning for how to bring more businesses and workers back online.

This week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined with other governors in region to outline some metrics for easing the current restrictions. They are:

  • Sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations. 
  • Enhanced ability to test and trace. 
  • Sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence. 
  • And best practices for social distancing in the workplace.

The governor also said on Friday that she’s hopeful to begin easing restrictions on May 1.

Republicans in the Michigan Senate unveiled their own proposal on Thursday to reduce restrictions. And the Trump administration has issued guidance meant for states to consider as this work progresses.

Michigan’s stay-at-home order is in place until April 30, which puts it in a group of 16 states with that date. Another 22 states have orders going past May 1 (New York and Wisconsin extended this week).

 

Chief justice urges counties to seek federal aid

Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack urged state and local governments on April 16 to apply for more than $24 million in Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) made available through the US. Department of Justice’s Bureaus of Justice Assistance. The chief justice also noted this during her discussion with MAC at our opening session of the 2020 Virtual Legislative Conference.

MAC shared information last week with members about the available funding and encourages those that have not already applied to do so as soon as possible. The official deadline is May 29.

Per BJA guidance, “Funds awarded under the CESF Program must be utilized to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus. Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to, overtime, equipment (including law enforcement and medical personal protective equipment), hiring, supplies (such as gloves, masks, sanitizer), training, travel expenses (particularly related to the distribution of resources to the most impacted areas), and addressing the medical needs of inmates in state, local, and tribal prisons, jails, and detention centers.

“Funds may not be used to supplant state or local funds but must be used to increase the amounts of such funds that would, in the absence of federal funds, be made available. Funds may not be used for direct administrative costs that exceed 10 percent of the total award amount.”

For any localities that need assistance drawing down funds, the BJA offers a support hotline: 888-549-9901 or GMS.HelpDesk@usdoj.gov. Find the application here

This list of expected eligible entities in Michigan was made available by the BJA last week. If your county was not specifically identified, MAC suggests using the hotline to ask about qualifying.

 

May 5 summit will focus on opioid treatments

Please join the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice for our Opioid Treatment Ecosystem Community of Practice Virtual Summit on Tuesday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Click here to register.

Hear from communities across the state who are implementing processes to provide medications for opioid use disorder within their county jails and leading community-based initiatives to expand the broader treatment ecosystem. An in-person event is being planned for this fall.



New order mandates ‘regional hubs’ for long-term care patients

On Tuesday night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 49 to “to provide limited and temporary relief from certain regulatory requirements to enhance the operational capacity and efficiency of health care facilities.”

The order states, “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will work with long-term care facilities across the state to establish COVID-19 designated regional hubs. These hubs will provide higher levels of care and services to treat patients with increased needs. All other nursing facilities will continue providing care in a traditional manner which may include the care of patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but do not require specialized care and services.” 

Michigan counties are a key provider of long-term care services via the 34 county-owned facilities that are members of the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council. Those facilities operate more than 4,600 beds in locations from Houghton to Hillsdale counties.

 

Revenue sharing increase highlights Gov. Whitmer’s FY21 budget

Michigan counties would see a $5.7 million boost to state revenue sharing payments under spending plans released today by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for fiscal year 2021.

In her second budget plan, Whitmer advises the Legislature to appropriate $232.2 million in statutory revenue sharing for counties, a roughly 2.5 percent increase from FY20 levels, from an $11 billion General Fund. The governor’s proposal would extend a recent trend of modest increases in revenue sharing as Michigan emerged from the Great Recession.

Whitmer also is recommending $7.2 million to support recommendations of a joint county-state Jail and Pretrial Incarceration Task Force and $40 million in grants for local governments to address flooding and infrastructure issues created by rising water levels around the state.

“Any increase is good news for our members, who are still struggling with the effects of the Great Recession and state limitations on property tax revenue,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “Still, in other areas of the budget, resources to counties are flat or even trending downward.”

Currie noted such areas as:

  • Funding for county veteran services grants: $2 million recommended for FY21, down from $4 million in FY20.
  • Funding for Secondary Road Patrol for county sheriffs: $11.1 million recommended for FY21, down from $13 million in FY20.
  • Reimbursements to county jails for housing state prisoners: $14.8 million recommended for FY21, flat from FY20.
  • Funding for “essential local public health services”: $51.4 million recommended for FY21, flat from FY20.

“We agree with the governor’s remarks this week that funding for local services is a crisis created by many decisions over many years in Lansing. We appreciate her commitment to a conversation on addressing that trend. Now is the time to do so, when Michigan’s economy is moving at a solid pace,” Currie argued.

FY21 Estimated Revenue Sharing by County

For more information on the state budget, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Who controls your county buildings?

A bill discussed in the Senate Local Government Committee this week would mandate that a local unit of government allow an elected official to place his or her non-political constituent informational materials in their buildings.

Senate Bill 719 sponsor Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Macomb) also referenced a substitute to the bill that prohibits anyone from denying access to an elected official who wished to hold a constituent informational meeting at any state or local governmental office that is open to the public.

MAC testified in opposition to the legislation on the grounds that the Legislature should not enact a law prescribing what a county must do in buildings owned by the county. The bill and substitute bill, as written, do not limit the places within county buildings where any elected official from the area can place their materials or hold public meetings. And they would not allow a county to deny a time or place for such meetings, even if other meetings or functions were already scheduled for the space. Further, they do not limit the quantity of materials that may be placed anywhere an elected official chooses, nor do they specify that access can be denied when the buildings are not open for business.

MAC will continue to work with the bill sponsor to protect local control of locally owned facilities. For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Senate committee briefed on child welfare corrections

The Senate Families, Seniors and Veterans Committee heard an update (attachment) from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on state’s Children Rights modified Implementation Sustainability and Exit Plan (ISEP). Senior Deputy Director for the Children’s Services Agency (CSA) JooYeun Chang provided an overview from since the state became the subject of federal scrutiny after it settled Dwayne B. v Granholm (U.S. Eastern District Docket No. 06-13548) in 2008, which led to a consent decree requiring several state changes.

The hope was that the ISEP could help DHHS exit federal monitoring within the next few years. But in 2018, a child welfare audit showed the state had undercounted the number of abused, and that homes used by relatives for child placement did not meet safety standards.

In June 2019, the ISEP was modified again in recognition of progress to the MDHHS child welfare system resulting in a focused agreement on six principles: safety, children’s needs, families and communities, placement, reunification and permanency and services. Chang emphasized progress to reduce CPS call wait times by centralizing the intake process and noted the number of dropped or abandoned calls had fallen from 1,400 to below 150, as of January.

Based on the tweaked agreement, to exit the ISEP, MDHHS must meet all conditions and maintain performance standards for at least two consecutive reporting periods. And it cannot have any outstanding requests for corrective action plans. Twenty-six jurisdictions are under a similar consent decree to Michigan’s.

The state also is implementing new federal requirements under the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018. The governor’s FY21 budget includes $8.6 million for programs to prevent children from entering foster care and to reduce the utilization of residential care for foster children. According to the governor’s plan, costs will be offset by estimated savings of $11.3 million ($5.3 million General Fund) resulting from fewer children entering the foster care system. The governor also is requesting $20.6 million to complete the first phase of the replacement of the Michigan Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (MiSACWIS) with a cloud-based system. And the budget calls for $11.3 million ($5.8 million General Fund) for this new system as a fiscal year 2020 supplemental appropriation. The entire upgrade for all phases is planned to be completed by FY25.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

Bills would redistribute funds from bottle deposits

A bipartisan package of bills intended to prevent bottle deposit fraud would also redistribute funds generated by unclaimed bottle deposits, sponsors told a House committee this week.

House Bills 5422-5425 received a hearing this week in the House Regulatory Reform Committee.

The heart of the bill package is HB 5423, by Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Kalamazoo), which would reconstitute how the “escheat” money (or unredeemed deposits) is spent. Current law divides the money this way: 75 percent to the Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust Fund for contaminated site cleanup and remediation and 25 percent to reimburse dealers/retailers for losses. HB 5423 would revamp that formula: 20 percent would go to new reimbursements for distributors, 25 percent would continue to reimburse retailers, 15 percent would go to a new Bottle Enforcement Fund to crack down on fraud and abuse and the remaining 40 percent would be split between the Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust Fund and the Renew Michigan Fund, which funds recycling grants, solid waste planning and contaminated site cleanup. Each year, unclaimed deposits generate about $40 million in revenue.

Since the bottle deposit law was adopted via voter initiative in the 1970s, any change would require a ¾ vote in each chamber.

MAC does not yet have a position on these bills.

For more information on this issue, contact Michael Ruddock at ruddock@micounties.org.

 

Deadline is Feb. 21 on veteran service grants

Counties that filed Letters of Intent now have until Feb. 21 to formally apply with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) for the FY20 County Veteran Service Fund grant monies.

Per law, each grant award will consist of a $50,000 base payment. Per capita payments also will be processed based on the county’s veteran population. MVAA will review applications between Feb. 21 and Feb. 28. It will announce awards and denials on March 2.

An FY20 supplemental appropriation included $4 million for the fund after months of negotiations between the Legislature and the Governor’s Office. The letter from the agency states, “(T)he goal and intent of these grant dollars are to enhance and improve county veteran service operations in an effort to connect more veterans to their benefits and provide consistent access to services throughout the state.”

If counties have any questions about uses of the funds, please consider connecting with surrounding counties or MAC. For questions of MVAA, contact MVAAGrants@michigan.gov.

For other questions or information, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

 

State offers free naxolone to county jails

County jails may request naloxone via a new portal built by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The department eventually plans to offer the drug, used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, to a variety of community organizations. MDHHS is recommending counties issue the drug to high-risk individuals at discharge from jail. (See the letter sent to Michigan sheriffs from MDHHS.)

You can access the portal here.

For more information, contact Jared Welehodsky of MDHHS at 517-284-4761 or welehodskyj@michigan.gov.

 

Feb. 11 webcast to focus on broadband gap

County leaders are encouraged to view a Pew Charitable Trusts webcast, “How to Bridge the Broadband Gap: A Conversation with State Leaders,” which will run from 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 11.

“Though access to high-speed, reliable internet is an increasingly critical tool for modern American life, the Federal Communications Commission estimates that at least 21 million Americans still lack broadband access. Other counts suggest this number could be as high as 162 million. Although much of the conversation about expanding broadband access has focused on the federal and local levels, states are taking decisive steps to expand this critical service to communities that lack it or are underserved.

Tune in for insights on: 

  • New research on 5 steps to effectively expand access
  • State promising practices
  • “Universal truths” of successful initiatives

Click here for details and to watch live on Feb. 11.

 

Newsletter to focus on solutions to opioid crisis

As part of the Opioid Treatment Ecosystem initiative, the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice at Wayne State University is developing a Community of Practice with a network of counties who are focused on expanding opioid antagonist treatment and implementing overdose prevention activities.

The center has developed a newsletter with information we hope you find helpful in your efforts to strengthen the treatment ecosystem in your community. In future newsletters, the center will provide information on training and funding opportunities, address shared barriers and highlight the success of county efforts.

To be placed on the newsletter delivery list, email “OTE” to CBHJ@wayne.edu.

 

National news from NACo

Michigan county leaders pose with U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (third from left) and Gary Peters (second from right) after a special briefing arranged by MAC on Capitol Hill on March 7.

A contingent of Michigan county officials, led by MAC Board President Matthew Bierlein of Tuscola County and other board officers, made a round of visits to Michigan’s congressional delegation on Capitol Hill during the 2018 National Association of Counties Legislative Conference this week.

Taking a break from the policy and service workshops at the conference, Michigan leaders met with Reps. Jack Bergman, Debbie Dingell, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, David Trott, Fred Upton and Tim Walberg on Tuesday, March 6. Michigan leaders also attended a special briefing from the state’s U.S. senators, Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, to cap the day.

“These visits are a key part of the annual NACo event in D.C.,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of MAC. “The pace of public life is such that it’s rare when you can put so many county leaders in front of our federal representatives at one time. You have to grab those opportunities whenever you can.”

County leaders attending this year’s NACo event included:

Vaughn Begick (Bay County), Alisha Bell (Wayne County), Roger  Bergman (Ottawa County), Matthew Bierlein (Tuscola County), Ken Borton (Otsego County), David Bowman (Oakland County), Emily Brieve (Kent County), Carol Crawford (Grand Traverse County), Greg DeJong (Ottawa County), Donald Disselkoen (Ottawa County),  Jerry Doucette (Alger County), Veronica Klinefelt (Macomb County), Philip Kuyers (Ottawa County), Sarah Lightner (Jackson County), Daniel Mahoney (Jackson County), Christian Marcus (Antrim County), Stephanie Moore (Kalamazoo County), Michael Overton (Jackson County), Stan Ponstein (Kent County), Julie Rogers (Kalamazoo County), Richard Schmidt (Manistee County), Michael Seals (Kalamazoo County), Eugene Smith (Iron County), Joe Stevens (Dickinson County), Jim Storey (Allegan County), Mary   Swanson (Kent County), Jim Talen (Kent County),  Shelley Taub (Oakland County), Al Vanderberg (Ottawa County) Matthew Van Zetten (Kent County) Gary Woronchak (Wayne County) and Helaine Zack (Oakland County).

  • CoPro Web Ad 2018
  • Enbridge Banner Ad 2018
  • MMRMA Web Banner 2019
  • NACo Live Healthy Ad 960x200px
  • Nationwide Ad For Mac Site