Michigan lawmakers commit $195 million to Detroit's bankruptcy reorganization

Jun 3, 2014

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers have committed to contributing $195 million to Detroit's bankruptcy settlement.

The state Senate gave final legislative approval to the bills to help protect retiree pensions and prevent the sale of city-owned artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“Today we are all Detroiters and we are all Michiganians,” said U.S District Court Judge Gerald Rosen following the vote. Rosen has been overseeing talks between Detroit and its creditors, and is considered the architect of the "grand bargain."

“This is an opportunity to send a message: it’s Detroit, Michigan, and Detroit, Michigan is on the comeback path,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, who says he plans to sign the bills as soon as they land on his desk. “We can hopefully get to the point by this fall of saying the bankruptcy has been resolved, and that Detroit is a growing community.

The Senate did not take up a controversial bill that would prevent the DIA from renewing a millage in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says that bill is “dead.” But Richardville called the decision to contribute to the settlement smart and conservative.

“To invest $195 million, put a whole lot of people that have worked for over 30 years at ease, and at the same time avoid significant risk and potential lineups for state services because of the numbers of employees that would fall below the poverty level.”

But the Senate vote was not unanimous. Sen. Coleman Young, D-Detroit, said the legislation gives the state too much power to oversee the city’s finances into the future.

“It simply won’t do for the people of my city, my friends, my neighbors, my constituents, to be put under the thumb of another body, hand-picked by this administration to enact policies in their own best interests, not Detroit’s,” said Young.

Young was the only Senator to vote against all nine bills in the package.