Proposal 1, a referendum on Michigan’s emergency manager law was — and is — designed to provide temporary guidance to Michigan government units and school systems in need of financial help.
The law has essentially been with us since being signed into place in 1988 by Gov. Jim Blanchard. It has survived the administrations of four governors — two Democrats and two Republicans.
Recent legislation has put more teeth into the law, giving an emergency manager the ability to void labor contracts in extreme emergencies. Because virtually all emergency manager situations involve the inability to pay the bills — current and/or long-term — and payroll costs are typically the highest item in the budget, it is understandable that the ire of the unions would be raised.
A point to ponder for workers and retirees receiving benefits from governments and schools in trouble: Emergency manager solutions could well bring in a far better deal for them than the ultimate results of a bankruptcy court.
The law includes “criteria to assess the financial conditions of local government units, including school districts.” That’s an early-warning system allowing for early-stage corrections that can avoid the need for an emergency manager altogether.
The legislation is a carefully stepped process in avoiding the continuing loss of sufficient public services and school funding, and ultimate financial failure. It is not a scheme to wrest away local control of our cities and school districts.
The law provides a means for receiving help early and avoiding the need for an emergency manager. It does not take away a union’s right to collective bargaining.
Emergency management offers a source of qualified, professional leadership to financially failing governments and schools. It does not remove elected officials from office (unless they refuse to assist in finding solutions).
We believe the emergency management law provides sufficient guarantees to local control while bringing obviously needed temporary help in managing the public’s purse. For this reason, we are endorsing a yes vote on Proposal 1.
Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.