New law would serve to protect communities, help fix failing cities

Guest Editorial
Michigan’s unions led what turned out to be a futile charge this month, pushing against a bill that could give emergency financial managers more powers to fix failing cities and schools.

The unions have a right to worry: Sinking municipalities could get out from under union contracts that aren’t affordable. That’s bad for their self-interest.

The rest of us, though, should be pleased.

State lawmakers approved this legislation with a real threat on the horizon. Several local governments and school districts could effectively go bankrupt after years of rough economic sledding and cuts to state aid. As happened with the Detroit school system, a manager would get finances back in shape.

There’s no evidence that Gov. Rick Snyder, who promoted this legislation, or lawmakers are trying to break unions. They are, however, protecting the public’s interest by helping municipalities out.

And not as many as you might think, either: Gongwer News Service analyzed the legislation and found that only seven cities would face a financial review.

If communities or school boards don’t want to go this route, they have an option: Face up to their financial challenges. If not, cities and schools deserve an emergency manager to do the work they won’t.