Local leaders' confidence in state's direction erodes, CLOSUP MPPS reveals

August 26, 2015

ANN ARBOR—For the first time since 2012, fewer than half of Michigan's local leaders believe the state is headed in the right direction—chief culprits include road funding fumbles, state tax policies and general dysfunction in Lansing, according to a University of Michigan survey.

But bright spots come from state policies that address economic issues such as right-to-work legislation, helping Detroit through bankruptcy, the Pure Michigan tourism campaign and careful management of the state budget, local officials reported on a  survey by U-M's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy in the Ford School of Public Policy.

The Michigan Public Policy Survey asked local leaders their opinions about the direction the state is headed and about the job performance of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature.

"The drop in optimism about the state's direction is found among officials across all political parties," said Tom Ivacko, CLOSUP administrator. "Most surprisingly, given the Republican party's monopoly on Michigan's state government, the largest drop in local leaders' support is found among Republican local leaders."

Key findings in the survey include:

  • Fewer than half, or 46 percent, of local officials think the state is headed in the right direction, down from 55 percent in 2014.

  • Among self-identified Republican officials, 59 percent say the state is headed in the right direction, down from 72 percent last year. Declines also were seen with Independents (37 percent today vs. 45 percent in 2014) and Democrats (27 percent vs. 30 percent).

  • Snyder's performance was rated good or excellent by 54 percent, up slightly from 52 percent in 2014, while the Michigan Legislature was rated good or excellent by 23 percent, down from 28 percent a year ago.

The study, conducted April 6-June 8, 2015, involved surveys sent via hard copy and the Internet to top elected and appointed officials in all counties, cities, villages and townships in Michigan. A total of 1,325 jurisdictions returned valid surveys, resulting in a 72-percent response rate. The survey had a margin of error of 1.4 percent.

The Michigan Public Policy Survey is a program of state-wide surveys of local government leaders in Michigan. Read the full August 2015 report, "Confidence in Michigan's direction declines among state's local leaders."