In 2009, MAC partnered with the Michigan Energy Office (MEO), Michigan Townships Association (MTA) and the Michigan Municipal League (MML) to launch the Green Communities Challenge, which measured local government progress toward energy efficiency. In the ensuing years, the program has seen a number of significant changes, including a move to a web-based checklist format, the addition of new partner organizations and an expansion of topics covered beyond energy efficiency. After a series of successful statewide conferences and other educational events, which included participation from more than 130 local governments, the supporting organizations started to view the Challenge as one component of a broader program, the Michigan Green Communities network, designed to connect leaders from around the state and help them learn from one another. Until now, this network has been largely an informal and unofficial entity, held together by verbal agreements and the common vision of a number of individuals. Today Michigan Green Communities is supported by six statewide organizations that have signed a formal memorandum of understanding: MML, MEO, MTA, MAC, the Department of Environmental Quality and the MML Foundation. Those organizations have agreed to commit staff time and other resources to the program, which will be led by a steering committee of local government leaders. The MML Foundation has agreed to serve as the fiduciary for Michigan Green Communities. The Michigan Green Communities network continues to grow, so visit http://mml.org/green/ to get your community or organization involved and to keep up on the latest program updates. Thank you to all the communities and organizations that have supported this initiative from 2009 to today.
A revamped Medicaid Expansion bill, HB 4714, sponsored by Rep. Matt Lori (R-St. Joseph County), passed from the House with strong bipartisan support, 76 to 31, and is now in the Senate Government Operations Committee. HB 4714 would save Michigan taxpayers about $200 million a year in reduced health care spending, provide health insurance to an estimated 474,000 eligible low-income Michigan workers who are currently uninsured. This legislation would also provide funding that would support preventive healthcare and mental health treatment, which keeps people out of costly healthcare settings, jails, and prisons. “This plan wouldn’t just provide health insurance to low-income workers who are uninsured today,” said Thomas Bardwell, President of the Michigan Association of Counties (M.A.C.) Board of Directors, “but it also would require some responsibility from the participant in the form of co-pays, along with incentivizing participants to practice a healthy lifestyle.” M.A.C. supports the passing of HB 4714 and would like to thank Rep. Lori for sponsoring the bill, Governor Snyder for his continued support of this bill, Rep. Shirkey (R-Jackson County), and all legislators working to pass this important piece of legislation. Below are the numbers, by county, of workers who would gain insurance under HB 4714. This information was provided by www.reformmedicaidmi.com via the Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. StatewideTotals_MedicaidRelease (2)

 Gov. Snyder presented his Fiscal Year 2014 budget today with a guaranteed funding increase for cities, villages, and townships (CVTs), while again disproportionately cutting revenue sharing to county government.

“It’s disappointing that the state continues to punish counties by consistently cutting their revenue sources,” said Thomas Bardwell, President of the Michigan Association of Counties (M.A.C.) Board of Directors.  “What they fail to realize is that counties cannot continue to provide all the services the state mandates if there is no funding for those services.” Ignoring the statutory commitment to fund counties at the level required has become a habitual practice for the state.  Counties are already stretched to their financial limit, making it difficult for them to pay for the multitude of state mandated services including the courts, jails, 911, indigent defense, sheriffs, constitutional officers, elections and the public health system. CVTs have been provided a 4% budget increase, and though it appears that funding for counties remains flat compared to last year, three additional counties are scheduled to come back into the revenue sharing formula this year, which current funding levels do not account for. Counties have saved the state more than a billion dollars since 2005 when they gave up revenue sharing temporarily.  This was in an effort to help the state with its budget problem, and the state promised a return of that funding once reserves were depleted.  Counties will continue to help the state budget until the final county exhausts its reserve account well past the year 2020. The current model of mandating counties to deliver services on behalf of the state government without paying for those services is unsustainable.  Counties look forward to working with the governor and the legislature to make sure that mandated services are funded.
HB 6022, 6024, 6025, 6026, and SB 1065-1071 Personal Property Tax (PPT) On the last day of the lame duck session, Lt. Governor Calley and MAC reached an agreement on the PPT package of bills that would tie bar the entire PPT repeal to the passage of the use tax vote in 2014. This move, along with the inclusion of jails in the essential services assessment and the movement of the minimum threshold for 80% reimbursement from the state, brought MAC to a neutral position on the bills. Although the package is not perfect, the Lt. Governor and the House and Senate have agreed to keep working throughout the next legislative session to address any unanswered questions and unfinished issues. This package represents a significant improvement over all other options on the table. It has been our goal to achieve the most comprehensive and reliable replacement revenue source for our counties. The other option on the table was complete elimination of new personal property tax for new purchases starting Jan. 1, 2013 without any reimbursement plan. This would have left counties at a negotiating disadvantage with little incentive for the other interest groups to negotiate reimbursement proposals. All counties in Michigan will be eligible to assess an essential services assessment and 63 of Michigan’s counties will be eligible for reimbursement from the diversion of the state’s use tax. SB 1021 and 1022, HB 5367 Payment In Lieu of Tax (PILT) SB 1021 and SB 1022, sponsored by Sens. Casperson (R-Delta County) and Booher (R-Osceola County) respectively, are on their way to the Governor for a signature. The bills increase state payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) obligations to counties according to inflation. In addition, they would allow counties to apply fees and penalties against the state if PILT payments are late or are not fully paid. In all, the bills would increase PILT payments to local units of government by about $9.7 million. MAC thanks Sens. Casperson and Booher, along with Rep. Frank Foster (R-Emmet County), the Governor, and all of the Northern Senators and Representatives for their hard work on this issue. Additionally, HB 5367, sponsored by Representative Chuck Moss (R-Oakland County), is on its way to the Governor for a signature. The bill provides supplemental appropriations in the amount of $2.6 million to fully fund the state’s PILT obligation for the current year. Special thanks to Representative Moss, Senators Casperson and Booher, and the Governor for getting this done for counties.
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