Thomas Ivacko is the administrator and program manager of the Ford School's Center for Local, State and Urban Policy. He oversees the Michigan Public Policy Survey program.
The latest Michigan Public Policy Survey at the Ford School, surveyed local government leaders all across the state of Michigan. We asked them a series of questions about Michigan's new Emergency Manager Law. It's known as Public Act 4 of 2011.
Public Act 4 has some pretty controversial aspects to it. It gives significantly more power to emergency managers than was available under the previous act.
One of the key findings is that less than half of local government leaders overall, about 38 percent, support Public Act 4, 30 percent oppose it, and the rest are somewhere in between. They either aren't taking a stand or they're not quite sure yet how they feel about the law. We looked at a variety of factors behind the support and opposition. We expected to find that partisanship, whether local officials are Republicans, independents or Democrats, would be a driving factor in their support or opposition to the law. And what we found is that is a factor, but it's not nearly as strong a factor as whether these local officials think this law is going to be effective at helping to protect or restore fiscal health of local governments.
One of the surprising things is when we look at local leaders from the most fiscally distressed communities in Michigan, support more than doubles. Eighty-two percent of these leaders support Public Act 4. It's a relatively small number of jurisdictions so we want to be a bit cautious in interpreting these figures, but it's a significant jump.