The Craig Fahle Show

Bolger: State Oversight of Detroit 'At Least 20 Years'

Thursday, May 8, 2014

State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) says the state should oversee Detroit's finances for "at least 20 years." That could be part of the state's proposal to contribute to the so-called "Grand Bargain," which would include a one-time state contribution of $195 million.

"It's more about the accountability and the long-term oversight," says Bolger, "This is about the viability and the long-term sustainability of the pension funds as well as the contracts."

He says the state isn't interested in micro-managing smaller aspects of city management. Larger contracts and financial decisions, however, would be included in state oversight of Detroit.

Bolger received media attention two weeks ago when he called for unions to contribute money to the pension fund. However, he says this has consistently been his view throughout the negotiations.

"I think [it's] key and essential that everybody needs to be at the table participating," says Bolger. "The union organizations themselves negotiated these contracts. Their members, their pensioners, and their active employees are giving at this table. They are making concessions, they are giving up what they otherwise thought they were going to receive.

The managements through the taxpayers are at the table contributing to make sure that this is mitigated, but thus far the union organizations and the coffers they built from the dues that they collected on these contracts have not come forward."

This week Speaker Bolger announced the formation of a special House Committee on Detroit's Recover and Michigan's Future. "The committee will entertain a package of bills that I expect to be introduced today that would bring accountability, protect tax payers, protect pensioners and the DIA and serve citizens in the city of Detroit and the citizens of Michigan statewide," says Bolger.

Here is Speaker Bolger's statement on the committee's formation: “As the House considers support to help resolve Detroit’s bankruptcy and secure its recovery, we need to ensure taxpayers statewide are protected and Detroit’s success is assured,” said Bolger, R-Marshall. “We are putting a strong team in place to resolve this difficult issue today with a vision for a bright future.”

The committee will be chaired by state Rep. Tom Walsh (R-Livonia) who said in a statement: “Detroit is still a driver of economic activity in the Great Lakes region and its failures and successes impact all of Michigan. We are taking action to ensure its bankruptcy is a new beginning rather than an end. We will bring ideas to the table and vet those ideas through a transparent committee process, and find the best solution to protect taxpayers.”

What's the Grand Bargain? Click here.