$1 billion on books unlikely to lead to state spending surge

Michigan will have about $1 billion left over on its books from the fiscal 2019 budget year, but legislative leaders and budget analysts downplayed any surge in state spending.

The Senate Fiscal Agency (SFA) announced the FY19 results on Dec. 30 as part of its regularly required Economic Outlook and Budget Review.

Nevertheless, state leaders quoted by the MIRS News Service this week took a cautious tone.

“(T)he slowing economic recovery detailed in the SFA document doesn’t give (Senate Appropriations Chair Jim Stamas) confidence that the state’s going to have a ‘whole lot of extra money’ to be spreading around,” MIRS reported. “Likewise, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-ClarkLake) isn’t looking to go on a spending spree. ‘The least amount spent is the best service we can provide taxpayers,’ said Shirkey Press Secretary Amber McCann. ‘His goal is be fiscally responsible with an eye on the budget long term.’”

And before Christmas, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned that the state’s General Fund situation would be tight in the current budget year (FY20) and for the upcoming one (FY21).

The SFA report, along with data from the House Fiscal Agency and the executive branch, will be used to set revenue estimates to guide work on the FY21 state budget. On Thursday, the Department of Treasury said the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference will start at 9 a.m. on Jan. 10 in Lansing.

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

 

Start saving dates for MAC events in 2020

Please start marking your calendars or making notes for the following MAC events in 2020:

  • Early February – Delivery of the 2020 MAC Membership Directory to all county commissioners and county administrator offices; these directories are free to our members
  • April 15-17 – Legislative Conference, Lansing Center and Lansing Radisson Hotel; attendee registration will open on Feb. 5; please note that this year’s event will run Wednesday-Friday
  • June-July – MAC Regional Summits in four locations around Michigan; dates and sites TBD; registration for these one-day sessions will open in May
  • Aug. 16-19 – Annual Conference, Kalamazoo Radisson Hotel; attendee registration will open June 10
  • November-December – New Commissioner Schools (conducted in partnership with MSU Extension) in four locations around Michigan; dates and sites TBD; registration will open in the fall

For all of the latest updates on MAC events in 2020, be sure to visit our calendar page and our conferences page and download the free MAC app.

 

DHHS sets public forums on direction of behavioral health

County leaders are encouraged to attend public forums set up by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on the state’s specialty behavioral health system and its the future.

The first of the forums is Jan. 8 in Detroit. Click here to register.

MDHHS will host five forums in January and February. All events will run from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Registration is not required, but strongly encouraged to help us best prepare for the events.

Dates, locations and registration for future events:

  • Register for Grand Rapids on Jan. 9 here
  • Register for Marquette on Jan. 22 here
  • Register for Saginaw on Jan. 30 here
  • Register for our virtual forum on Feb. 6 here 

Please review the MDHHS flier for additional details or visit www.michigan.gov/FutureOfBehavioralHealth

In December, MDHHS Director Robert Gordon spoke to legislators about the MDHHS vision for the future of the state’s public behavioral health system after the decision to end the Section 298 pilot project.

For more information on MAC’s work on mental health issues, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

State court office suggests court changes in 2020

Some Michigan trial courts have too many judges, while others have too few is the assessment of the Michigan State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) in its 2019 Judicial Resources Recommendations (JRR) report submitted to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature today.

To address these trends, SCAO is recommending:

  • The Legislature consider eliminating three judgeships by attrition;
  • Create a probate court district and eliminate one probate judgeship;
  • Add nine new judgeships;
  • Create a four-county circuit and district court, then reverse a pending reduction; and
  • Create a probate court district, then reverse a pending reduction.

SCAO said the recommendations are based on an analysis of each court’s caseload, followed by a secondary analysis of local factors, such as population trends. The report’s methodology was developed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) in conjunction with the Judicial Resource Advisory Committee.

For more information on MAC’s advocacy on court issues, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

 

National news from NACo

MAC encouraged by state lawsuit over opioid costs

Litigation announced this week by Attorney General Dana Nessel is a positive development in the ongoing battle to address the opioid epidemic and to hold to account those distributors that have flooded Michigan with opioids over the last two decades, said the head of the association for Michigan’s 83 counties.

“Counties are on the front lines of the opioid crisis, dealing with it via health departments, child welfare, criminal justice costs and treatment efforts,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “We are encouraged by the movement we have seen so far at the national level and believe the state’s lawsuit will be a complement to federal litigation by counties.”

In responding to Nessel’s announcement, Currie noted that:

  • more people die of drug overdoses than car crashes in Michigan;
  • since 2002, overdose deaths have tripled, reaching 2,729 in 2017; and
  • county officials in 74 percent of Michigan counties reported an unmet need for drug treatment programs in their jurisdiction, with more than a third (36%) of counties reporting a significant unmet need.

“We are encouraged by the attorney general’s goal of collaborating with the local entities that are bearing this burden in seeking legal redress for the crisis’ massive costs on our state,” Currie added.

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

Governor signs supplemental bills with county funds

This morning (Dec. 20), Gov Gretchen Whitmer signed supplemental budget legislation that formally restores about $60 million in funding for key county programs that were caught up in the line-item vetoes fight this fall.

Among the restorations are:

  • $27.4 million in PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for local governments
  • $14.8 million in county jail reimbursements for the housing of state prisoners
  • $13.1 million to aid Secondary Road Patrol services by county sheriffs
  • $4 million in grant money for veteran services
  • $3.5 million in reimbursements for foster care services provided by counties
  • $400,000 in community correction funds

The governor also signed a bill that requires the Legislature to provide the governor a budget proposal each year by July 1. The state fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to June 30.

For more information on MAC’s work on state budgets, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Podcast 83 wraps up budget deals, 4-year terms

Stephan Currie discusses year-end legislative work with Deena Bosworth (center) and Meghann Keit in the new episode of Podcast 83.

MAC’s Governmental Affairs Team reviewed the restoration of key county funds via budget supplementals, the prospects for four-year terms for county commissioners and more in a year-ending episode of Podcast 83.

“We have some good holiday cheer to bring,” said host Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director.

“All of the vetoes line items that really affected counties have been restored,” said Deena Bosworth, director of governmental affairs.

“The sticking point was what they were going to do to limit the governor’s powers on how she moves money around,” Bosworth added.

On legislation to create four-year terms for commissioners, Bosworth said, “No one is really against the policy of four-year county commissioner terms, it’s just a matter of when that election takes place. Does it happen on a gubernatorial election year or on a presidential election year?”

Bosworth also reported progress in a key MAC priority to get authority extended for a county to take over its road commission, if it so chooses.

To listen to any episode of Podcast 83, visit the MAC website or our page on Soundcloud.

 

State sets town halls, feds issue grants for opioid crisis

The Michigan Opioids Task Force and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are hosting a series of town halls throughout 2020 to learn more about how the opioid epidemic in Michigan and discuss the state’s efforts to address the crisis. At the town halls, MDHHS and the Michigan Opioids Task Force will share the 2020 strategy to turn the tide on the crisis, seek feedback from the public and host a Q&A about the crisis response.

The first event is at Wayne County Community College Larry K. Lewis Education Center Auditorium, 8200 Outer Drive West in Detroit, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 17.

“The state cannot tackle this epidemic alone,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS in a statement.

A few key questions will guide the conversation:

  • How has the opioid epidemic affected you, your family or your community?
  • What services, programs or policies would you recommend to address the crisis?
  • How can the state help combat stigma and change the narrative around opioid use disorder?

Additional town halls will occur later in 2020:

  • Sterling Heights on March 10
  • Gaylord on July 24
  • Escanaba on July 29
  • Flint on Sept. 25
  • Grand Rapids in November

For more information about the state’s opioids response and available resources, visit Michigan.gov/opioids.

For more information on MAC’s work on opioid issues, contact Meghann Keit at keit@micounties.org.

Four counties among federal grant recipients

Also this week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced millions in grants to local entities engaged in combating the opioid crisis. Among the Michigan recipients of these grants were Alcona, Lenawee, Muskegon and Van Buren counties.

Alcona received $500,000 and Lenawee $158,164 as part of $44 million in grants “to jurisdictions, academic institutions and training and technical assistance providers to establish, expand, assist and research the effectiveness of adult drug courts, including veterans treatment courts.”

Muskegon and Van Buren each received $750,000 as part of $23.8 million for a federal program that “provides financial and technical assistance to facilitate collaborations between criminal justice, mental health and substance abuse treatment systems to serve individuals with mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse issues.”

 

$3.6 million in grants go out to prevent invasive species

Thirty-two projects will split up $3.6 million to help prevent and eradicate the spread of invasive species across Michigan. Many of the award winners are county Conservation District Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas, or CISMAs. CISMAs work collaboratively in counties to prevent, detect, manage and eradicate invasive species on the ground and in the water.

Started in 2014, the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program (MISGP), has awarded more than $18 million to 112 projects and is a joint effort of the departments of Natural Resources (DNR), Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). 

Michigan considers an invasive species as “one that is not native and whose introduction causes harm, or is likely to cause harm to Michigan’s economy, environment, or human health.” Projects that have resulted from funding from the MISGP grants have helped protect and preserve more than 35,000 acres of land and water.

For more information, contact Michael Ruddock at ruddock@micounties.org or visit the website.

 

State posts February 2020 PPT payments

Counties now can see Personal Property Tax (PPT) Reimbursement payments scheduled for February 2020.

The Local Community Stabilization Authority has approved the PPT amounts. Click here and open the report for Other Municipalities – 2019 PPT Distribution by Payee. This spreadsheet will show the payments that went out in October 2019 and the payments scheduled to go out in February 2020.

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

 

 

Governor’s Office seeks applicants for state board slots

The state of Michigan needs to fill about 170 slots on state boards and panels ranging from the Mackinac Bridge Authority to the Underground Storage Tank Authority Board. The vacancies fall during the first half of 2020 and the Governor’s Office is soliciting applications from service-minded citizens.

The list is broken down by state department and includes specifications for each vacancy.

If you or someone you know would be a good match for a position, send name and contact information to dagherg@michigan.gov and apply at Michigan.gov/appointments.

Applications are now being accepted for Q1, while the deadline for Q2 is Friday, March 27.

 

Mental Health briefings set for Waterford, Coldwater, Escanaba, Gaylord

“Managing Mental Health Crisis” is a series of one-day events designed to provide participants with a better understanding of mental illness as it relates to law enforcement.

“Managing a Mental Health Crisis (MMHC) is a culmination of knowledge and skills developed by law enforcement and mental health professionals with the intention of promoting effective and high-quality responses to mental health related incidents,” stated the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is co-hosting the events with the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) and The Cardinal Group.

The dates and locations are:

Each session runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and there is limited seating at each, so act quickly. To make your free registration, contact jericwaddell@thecardinalgroup2.com.

 

USDA webinar to review rural broadband efforts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) willl host a Dec. 30 webinar covering the second round of funding for the Broadband ReConnect Program announced on Dec. 12. USDA staff and representatives will provide a general overview about the program, eligibility, required documentation and more.

You can register for the webinar here. USDA recommends you register early and run a system check to ensure quick access on the day of the webinar.

The ReConnect Program offers loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America without sufficient access to broadband. The application window for the second round of funding will open on Jan. 31, 2020.

The awards made under this program will bring high-speed broadband to rural areas that lack sufficient access to broadband.

To learn more about the ReConnect Program and upcoming events, visit https://www.usda.gov/reconnect.

 

 

National news from NACo

Supplemental Budget Bills Passed

Both the House and the Senate have passed the long awaited and finally negotiated supplemental bills that will restore more than $60 million in vetoed state funding for key county services.  The bill now await the Governor’s signature, which MAC is confident will happen before the end of the year. 

Now to be restored in new spending bills are:

$27.4 million in PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for local governments

$14.8 million in county jail reimbursements for the housing of state prisoners

$13.1 million to aid Secondary Road Patrol services by county sheriffs

$4 million in grant money for veteran services

$3.5 million in reimbursements for foster care services provided by counties

$400,000 in community corrections programs. 

The vetoes and subsequent stalemate had forced counties to begin identifying service cutbacks and layoff targets to balance their fiscal 2020 budgets, as most counties start their budget years on Jan. 1, 2020.  As part of the final deal between the legislature and the Governor is a commitment to get the budgets done by July 1 each year and to also grant the legislature a chance to veto any administrative board transfers proposed by the Governor in future years. 

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

Sunset Elimination Bills Almost Done

SB 322 and SB 323 sponsored by Sen. Victory (R-Ottawa) moved one step closer to enactment this week by passing the House in the late hours on Wednesday prior to the winter legislative break.  Since 2012, counties have had the option of absorbing their appointed road commissions, or in the cases of an elected road commission, a county could put the question up to the voters.  The law has had a sunset on this authority since its’ original enactment and is set to sunset again on January 1, 2020. 

 

Rep. Wentworth (R-Clare) offered an amendment to require a vote of the people if a county would like to take an elected road commission and make them an appointed road commission.  This amendment was adopted in the House Ways and Means Committee before moving to the House floor.  Because this bill was amended, the Senate must concur in the changes before the bill is sent to the Governor for her signature.  Due to some timing issues, the Senate adjourned before the bills passed the House and therefore the amended bill will have to wait until the Senate’s return in early January before heading to the Governor.  For more information, please contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

Mental health briefings set for four locations across Michigan

“Managing Mental Health Crisis” is a series of one-day events designed to provide participants with a better understanding of mental illness as it relates to law enforcement.
 
“Managing a Mental Health Crisis (MMHC) is a culmination of knowledge and skills developed by law enforcement and mental health professionals with the intention of promoting effective and high-quality responses to mental health related incidents,” stated the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is co-hosting the events with the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) and The Cardinal Group.
 
The dates and locations are:
 
 
Each session runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and there is limited seating at each, so act quickly. To make your free registration, contact jericwaddell@thecardinalgroup2.com.

Budget deal would restore $60 million in key county funds

Legislative action on Wednesday to restore approximately $60 million in vetoed state funding for key county services was encouraging, said MAC’s executive director this week.  The governor and legislative leaders hammered through a negotiation that ended in an agreement to send a supplemental budget totaling more than $573 million to the governor in exchange for some restrictions on the governor’s ability to transfer budget line items via the Administrative Board. 

The deal, although positive, still requires each chamber to vote again next week to send it all to the governor for her signature. MAC, though, is encouraged by the movement on both sides.  “It’s late and coming after a great deal of stress for our members,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties, “but the supplemental spending bills agreed to this week restore the vital funding for our members. We look forward to final passage in the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature – and we applaud her and legislative leaders for finding a compromise that puts people over politics.”

Whitmer’s use of the Administrative Board in the fall had been the key sticking point in resolving the budget impasse arising out of 147 line-item vetoes that, among other things, struck down an array of key county funds.

Now to be restored in new spending bills are:

  • $27.4 million in PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for local governments
  • $14.8 million in county jail reimbursements for the housing of state prisoners
  • $13.1 million to aid Secondary Road Patrol services by county sheriffs
  • $4 million in grant money for veteran services
  • $3.5 million in payments for foster care services provided by counties

The spending bills raced through legislative votes on Dec. 3.

The vetoes and subsequent stalemate had forced counties to begin identifying service cutbacks and layoff targets to balance their fiscal 2020 budgets, as most counties start their budget years on Jan. 1, 2020.

“The focus today is on getting this deal done and helping our members ensure uninterrupted delivery of public safety, social welfare and other basic services,” Currie said.

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

 

Four-year terms for county commissioners stall in Lansing

Due to the underlying political current in Lansing, the bills to convert county commissioner terms to four years, beginning with the 2022 election, have stalled in the House. House Bill 4937 and HB 4938, by Rep. Ann Bollin (R-Livingston) and Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Jackson) respectively, were up for consideration in the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this week. But due to disagreement on whether the elections should take place on a gubernatorial election cycle or a presidential election cycle, the bills were held.

MAC continues to support the bills and will continue to work to find common ground on the issue once the Legislature resumes regular sessions in January. 

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

 

State ships out $10 million for public health shortfalls

Counties across Michigan are receiving $10 million from the state after authorization by the Local Community Stabilization Authority. These funds are in addition to the funding received via the regular state budget process.

During the Personal Property Tax revisions made in late 2018, MAC negotiated an additional supplemental payment for counties to help fund public health departments. These funds are authorized to make up for the shortfall that occurs each year from state cost-sharing.

For a list of the amounts to each funding unit, please click here.

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

 

DHHS unveils post-298 ‘vision’ on behavioral health

Just weeks after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer struck section 298 mental health funding with her line item veto pen, the Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon had announced the completion of the pilot projects. Stakeholders could not agree to a path forward and ultimately ended the 298 model. That announcement also stated that the director would be sharing the “department’s vision for a stronger behavioral health system” in the coming weeks. This week, the director did just that before joint Senate and House subcommittees on Health and Human Services

The director’s presentation outlined strengths of the locally based public system, as well as challenges for people using services. He highlighted the main goals of the department as: broaden access to quality care, improve coordination and cut red tape, increase behavioral health investment and financial stability.

The director outlined a new tactic toward mental and physical health integration, through “specialty integrated plans,” that would manage individuals with significant behavioral health needs. The director outlined the vision for a system led by a statewide association of CMHs that will have new functions and partnerships.  Additionally, other options will be provided to consumers, but much work is needed to develop a full plan.

The department expects “the new Medicaid-funded integrated health plan will launch in 2022.”

Four public forums will be scheduled in January 2020 to hear feedback and questions as policy design and planning move forward.

Additional information can be found at Michigan.gov/FutureOfBehavioralHealth, where there is opportunity to provide comment on this proposal. MAC will also keep members informed of the upcoming public forums hosted by DHHS.

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

 

Erosion raises attention on high water levels

Michigan’s 3,300 miles of Great Lakes coastline, as well as inland shoreline, continue to severely erode due to record high water levels in the Great Lakes, causing millions of dollars in losses to public and private property.

All five Great Lakes are at, or above, record high water levels. While water levels rise and fall cyclically, experts suggest levels will continue to rise into 2020. Substantial damage to property, infrastructure and natural resources have occurred over the last three years with higher water levels, but it has become catastrophic in some areas in recent months, with homes slowly falling into the lake and roads being washed out.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) is working with local governments and coastal communities to spread awareness and provide insight into its efforts: expediting and streamlining permits for homeowners to protect their homes before they’re lost and creation of a new shoreline erosion webpage and customer assistance phone line. To listen an EGLE hosted with local government officials and coastal communities, click here.

In response to a lack of available funding for those who are experiencing erosion issues, a bipartisan group of legislators are urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to declare a State of Emergency. An official declaration by the governor would allow the state and federal government to aid with cleanup and prevention costs. Additionally, two counties have passed resolutions urging a state of emergency: Manistee and Berrien.

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

 

Mental health briefings set for Waterford, Escanaba, Gaylord

“Managing Mental Health Crisis” is a series of one-day events designed to provide participants with a better understanding of mental illness as it relates to law enforcement.

“Managing a Mental Health Crisis (MMHC) is a culmination of knowledge and skills developed by law enforcement and mental health professionals with the intention of promoting effective and high-quality responses to mental health related incidents,” stated the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is co-hosting the events with the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) and The Cardinal Group.

The dates and locations are:

Each session runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and there is limited seating at each, so act quickly. To make your free registration, contact jericwaddell@thecardinalgroup2.com.

 

Crawford, Isabella land ‘critical community facility’ loans

Crawford and Isabella counties will share in approximately $10 million in federal loans for “critical community facilities,” the USDA Office of Rural Development has announced.

Isabella County will use a $9,950,000 loan to construct a new facility for the Isabella County Road Commission. The project features an 8,245-square-foot administration building and a 51,780-square-foot maintenance building. This will replace the current 1950s-era facilities.

Crawford County will use a $428,000 loan to purchase a building to be renovated for the county Commission on Aging in a subsequent phase of the project.

The loans were among four issued to Michigan projects included in nearly $400 million in such loans granted nationwide by the USDA.

“Each of these investments will have long-term positive effects on their respective communities as well as the surrounding area,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan Jason Allen.  “By strengthening rural areas and increasing their prosperity, we’re also helping Michigan as a whole move forward.”

More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities program funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.

Those interested in loans should contact the Michigan Rural Development Office. Also see the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program Guidance Book for Applicants, a detailed overview of the application process.

 

National news from NACo

 

Legislative action on Wednesday to restore approximately $60 million in vetoed state funding for key county services was encouraging, said MAC’s executive director.

“It’s late and coming after a great deal of stress for our members,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties, “but the supplemental spending bills agreed to this week restore the vital funding for our members. We look forward to final passage in the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature – and we applaud her and legislative leaders for finding a compromise that puts people over politics.”

 The deal announced Dec. 3 will make modifications to the legislative budget process and the governor’s use of the State Administrative Board. Whitmer’s use of that board in the fall had been the key sticking point in resolving the budget impasse arising out of 147 line-item vetoes that, among other things, struck down an array of key county funds.

Now to be restored in new spending bills are:

  • $27.4 million in PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for local governments
  • $14.8 million in county jail reimbursements for the housing of state prisoners
  • $13.1 million to aid Secondary Road Patrol services by county sheriffs
  • $4 million in grant money for veteran services
  • $3.5 million in payments for foster care services provided by counties
  • $400,000 in community corrections funds

The spending bills raced through legislative votes on Dec. 3 but cannot be finalized until next week.

The vetoes and subsequent stalemate had forced counties to begin identifying service cutbacks and layoff targets to balance their fiscal 2020 budgets, as most counties start their budget years on Jan. 1, 2020.

“The focus today is on getting this deal done and helping our members ensure uninterrupted delivery of public safety, social welfare and other basic services,” Currie said.