Governor Rick Snyder is pushing local governments and school districts to adopt what he calls "best practices." For cities, he says, that means three things: transparency, collaboration, and health benefits. For schools, he adds two more: outsourcing and health insurance ownership.
The plan enacted by the legislature uses a stick-and-carrot approach to get municipalities and schools to cooperate. The stick is that municipalities will lose all revenue sharing and schools up to $500 in per-pupil funding if they don't go along. The carrot, which is really only a baby carrot, is that if they cooperate, they can get some of that money back: up to $300 per pupil for schools and up to two-thirds of their 2010 revenue sharing for municipalities.
That means a cut of up to $1.4 million for Ann Arbor--"and we're already getting $5 million less a year than we used to ten years ago in total revenue sharing, constitutional and statutory," says mayor John Hieftje. "They then eliminated statutory revenue [sharing], but they tell us we can get two-thirds back again--maybe--by meeting the three criteria."
Hieftje figures Ann Arbor as a cinch for two. For transparency, the governor wants municipalities to put a "dashboard" on their websites showing their budgets and other financial information. "We're very transparent," says the mayor. "We already have it out there.