Archived Story

A year of fiscal accountability

Published 9:51pm Wednesday, January 4, 2012

State Rep. Al Pscholka Wednesday released the following statement with regard to the state’s new Fiscal Accountability Act and ongoing events in Benton Harbor:

One year ago the City of Benton Harbor and other Michigan municipalities and the state’s largest school district were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
All taxpayers in Michigan were on the hook for billions of dollars because of years, and sometimes decades, of financial mismanagement and an unwillingness to make tough decisions to balance budgets and manage debt.
The Fiscal Accountability Act, or Public Act 4, passed in March of 2011.
Dozens of press conferences, rallies and protests have been held, but Michigan residents need to look at the results.
Budgets are being balanced, debt is being managed, shared services agreements are in place, local units have been restructured to deliver services.
By any objective measure, the law is working.
Waste and inefficiency are being rooted out, and local residents are being served, not special interests that helped create suffocating deficits and debt.
Since passage of the Act, our own Benton Harbor’s outlook has gone from millions in the debt to a possible surplus.
The measures we put in place helped the Gov. Granholm-appointed EM create solutions he wasn’t previously able to, and implement real change.
Locally, a majority of city commissioners have chosen not to work on a transition plan, or bring a single idea forward to reform city government.
Many city residents have contacted my office asking how to prevent a “return to business as usual.”
It is an appropriate question to ask of local commissioners – “Where is your plan?”  “Is bankruptcy a better option?” “How will the city transition back to local control?”
These are questions that need answers, and those that have decried the Act have failed to provide them.
The Fiscal Accountability Act has proven to be an effective tool to restore financial responsibility and give local communities a chance at a brighter future.
Some special interest groups don’t like it, and that’s unfortunate because personal responsibility, savings and hard work are all values we all can agree on.
Holding press conferences is easy, governing is more difficult and it is time for city commissioners to present their plans for fiscal stability, not stomp their feet about the work we’re forced to do on their behalf.
Benton Harbor deserves better, Michigan taxpayers deserve better, and we’re never going to turn things around for either until the rhetoric gives way to discussions about responsibility and results.to editorRep

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