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Citizens Research Council of Michigan

New report analyzes transit millage proposal

Oct 25, 2016
The Regional Transit Authority millage was defeated Tuesday.
flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Voters in four Southeast Michigan counties will decide on November 8 whether to raise property taxes to enhance mass transit systems in the region.

The ballot proposal would authorize the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan to levy a new 1.2 mill tax for 20 years in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties. That would mean about $120 a year for the owner of a $200,000 house.  

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan will spend nearly $100 million to support non-public school students, according to a report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The report says the state will spend over $40 million more this year on non-public school students than it did just four years ago.

Click here to read the full report. 

Craig Thiel, a senior research associate with the Citizens Research Council, says the money is largely going to the "shared time" program.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A new report lays out the stark reality of how the Detroit Public Schools is rapidly sinking under its debt burden.

The report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan also details how the district accumulated its $3.5 billion debt load by mid-2015.

Almost $1.9 billion of that is “operational” debt – meaning it’s paid off by money that could otherwise be used in the classroom and for other day-to-day district expenses.

When local governments get sued and lose, Michigan residents can end up paying taxes that voters never approved and that exceed state limitations.

Normally, that can’t happen under the Headlee Amendment to the state constitution. But as the result of a Michigan Supreme Court decision, there’s an exception for court-ordered judgments.

FLICKR USER STEVEN DEPOLO / FLICKR

One of the most challenging issues facing the new state Legislature is school finance.

The Citizens Research Council recently released a report spotlighting shrinking school enrollment and the associated financial difficulties for districts. The report offers suggestions about how Lansing could support these struggling districts.

Craig Thiel, senior research associate with the Citizens Research Council, joined us today. He says the last time school enrollment was close to what it is now was the late 1950s.

So, does Detroit really need an Emergency Manager? Can the city’s elected leaders somehow get the job done? This much we know: The governor has ordered a preliminary review of  the city’s finances. There have been major signs of trouble for years.

Now, the city is running a large budget deficit, and the mayor says that as it now stands, the city will run out of cash by April.

user Urban Adventures / Flickr

A recent report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan highlights a sometimes overlooked part of Detroit’s current fiscal crisis: the city’s debt and legacy costs.

According to the report, Detroit has about $14 billion in liabilities (though about $5.2 billion of that is for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and thus shared with its suburban customers).