Detroit EM tries to sell bailout to lawmakers

Apr 29, 2014

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is spending a couple of days in Lansing for closed-door meetings with state officials. His primary mission is to convince reluctant state lawmakers to support the Detroit bailout package.

Gov. Snyder and Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr need to convince reluctant Republican lawmakers to send $350 million to Detroit.
Gov. Snyder and Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr need to convince reluctant Republican lawmakers to send $350 million to Detroit.
Credit LiveStream

The state’s share, which would have to be approved by the Legislature, is $350 million dollars. That would help mitigate cuts to pension benefits as part of the city’s bankruptcy, and ensure the assets of the Detroit Institute of Arts are safe from the auction block.

“We’re counting on this,” said Orr as he briefly stepped outside Gov. Rick Snyder’s state Capitol office. “The sooner we can get everything in with the momentum we’ve got going forward, the better it will be for everyone.”

“…There certainly have been a lot of questions regarding how to make sure that what we’re doing is going to stick so we don’t have to do this again. How do we make sure that there is responsibility going forward – is going to be enough? Is it calculated to be successful?”

The governor has not been part of the meetings, but is letting Orr use his Capitol office to make his case to lawmakers. The two are expected to get together tomorrow. 

Kevyn Orr says he’s optimistic all the pieces will eventually come together to get the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history wrapped up by this fall. But he’s facing plenty of skepticism in Lansing, especially from Republicans.

“People from outstate feel it’s not their responsibility. They didn’t do it,” said state Sen. Mike Kowall, a Republican from Oakland County. “The people from the near-suburbs are irritated and resentful of the fact that they have to bail Detroit out. So, there’s still a lot of hard feelings, but one thing we all have to remember is we’re still Michigan and we’re all in this together.” 

Republican state House Speaker Jase Bolger says he still has to be sold on the deal before he’ll call for a vote.

“We have to make sure this is a one-time investment that secures long-term success for the people of Detroit and the people of the state of Michigan,” Bolger said following a meeting with Orr.

Bolger says he’s sticking with his demand that the city’s employee unions also pull money from their bank accounts as part of the bargain. The unions say their members have already made concessions as part of the bankruptcy process.