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MANAGEMENT UPDATE.

LOCAL LEADERS DECLINING FAITH IN MICHIGAN STATE GOVERNMENT

Typically, people use the phrase “state and local government,” as though they are two entirely separate sets of entities. But unless the states and their cities, counties and towns work together smoothly, impediments to progress abound. 


Some fascinating revelations about the status of those relationships were revealed in a November report from the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.



According to the report, the spring 2023 Michigan Public Policy Survey disclosed that “Over half (56%) of Michigan local officials currently rate their jurisdiction’s overall relationship with the state government as just fair (42%) or even poor (14%), while 34% of local officials say it is either good (32%) or excellent (2%).”


That’s not very good news, but as is frequently the case, the most important data are found in the trend lines. And in this instance, comparing this information to that found the last time the question was asked in 2016, shows an unfortunate deterioration of the results. In the earlier survey,“49% of officials [surveyed] statewide said their government’s overall relations with the State were only fair or poor compared with 46% who said they were good or excellent.” That’s a decline of seven percentage points – not overwhelming, but clearly disappointing.


The most significant element in this downward shift was seen in a response to the question of whether the state values local input. The two surveys found that, “In 2016, local leaders were more likely to believe the state government valued input from local governments (43%) than thought it did not (35%). Today, just 27% statewide say the state government values local opinion, while nearly half (47%) say it does not.”


Some specific concerns found in the survey:


  • “In 2023, 70% of local officials say that the State is taking too much decision-making authority away from local governments.”  

  • “This year, 61% believe that the State holds local governments to a higher standard than it holds for itself.”

  • “A majority of local leaders (57%) believe the state does not treat jurisdictions fairly across the board.”

  • “Today, local leaders are slightly more likely to say state decision-making is not transparent.” 


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