LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Representatives Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township) and Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw) introduced House Bills 5583 and 5584 on Monday which aim to invest $500 million of the state’s federal funding from the American Rescue Plan and infrastructure bill into Michigan’s lowest-funded cities, counties and school districts.
“Our reliance on property taxes and wide disparities in property values is why the condition of our school buildings and local roads and infrastructure vary so much across the state,” said Brixie in a press release. “People wonder why some school districts have brand new buildings and others have roofs leaking or why the road they’re driving on is great until they hit the city limits — this is why. This legislation would ensure we’re able to provide essential services across Michigan.”
The bills would grant communities and school districts matching grants to raise their millage revenue to the statewide average in taxable value per capita.
“This issue impacts rural, suburban and urban communities,” said O’Neal. “I served as a county commissioner and a city council member for many years. During that time, we saw our land values decline, which directly reduced our revenues and resulted in cuts year after year to local services. When you cut services or close schools, people leave, and it’s a downward spiral. Our tax base in Saginaw is a fraction of the statewide average. You can’t maintain essential services or school buildings in communities dealing with this issue.”
Under the legislation, 54 out of 83 counties (65 percent), 224 out of 280 cities, 223 out of 253 villages, and 727 out of 1,240 townships qualify.