Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > May 20 | This Week in Government: Whitmer, Legislature Up The Ante In Tax Cut Fight; Reading Scores Stagnant, Ranking Could Drop By 2030

May 20 | This Week in Government: Whitmer, Legislature Up The Ante In Tax Cut Fight; Reading Scores Stagnant, Ranking Could Drop By 2030

May 20, 2022
Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. Whitmer, Legislature Up The Ante In Tax Cut Fight
  2. Report: Reading Scores Stagnant, Ranking Could Drop By 2030
  3. HFA: Revenues Up $5B In Current, Next Fiscal Year
  4. Wayne County Clerk: Hollier Stays On Ballot, Griffie To Appeal
  5. Santana Seeks To End State Oversight Of Detroit

Whitmer, Legislature Up The Ante In Tax Cut Fight
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and legislative Republicans appeared as far apart as ever on how to spend the state’s increased revenues with the GOP moving a more than $2 billion tax cut and the governor calling for a $500 rebate for an undefined group of taxpayers.

On Thursday morning, as word began trickling out that Republicans planned a vote on another massive tax cut, Ms. Whitmer announced a letter to legislative leadership calling for a $500 rebate for “working families,” but did not immediately provide further details on the structure of the proposal.

Moving in a totally different direction, the Senate first took up HB 4568 and SB 784, legislation that a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis estimated would reduce revenues by about $2.7 billion when fully enacted and included proposals to lower the personal income tax, increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit and provide a child tax credit, among other things.

Though a different direction, Thursday’s actions underscored a reality, that the political terrain has shifted toward returning money to taxpayers in some form, traditionally a winning issue for Republicans. They also clearly unnerved organizations representing entities that rely on state government for funding who appear to have few allies in either party in trying to direct the surplus toward new or expanded funding and programs.

But the actions also signaled that efforts to finalize the 2022-23 fiscal year budget before the Legislature adjourns for the summer in the coming weeks – a resolution dependent on an agreement on taxes – is not close.

Both chambers moved HB 4568 and the House will follow suit on SB 784 next week, sending the plan to Ms. Whitmer’s desk.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) prior to the votes on the bills railed against Ms. Whitmer, calling her complicit with President Joe Biden’s administration in sparking decades-high rates of inflation along with high gasoline prices.

“The pandering effort of this governor to try and cover up for all the pain and suffering that she has been complicit with over the last two years, most recently with our president and creating inflation that we’re fighting … is amazing,” Mr. Shirkey said. “Let there be no mistake: our plan is sustainable. It’s ongoing. … We are only beginning, but I’m damn proud of what this body is about to pass, and we are not done yet.”

Senators voted 22-14 along party lines on HB 4568 and 22-15 on SB 784, with Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) the lone GOP vote against the latter bill. Democrats denied HB 4568 immediate effect on a party-line vote to prevent the necessary two-thirds vote.

House lawmakers Thursday only signed off on one of the two bills looking to cut taxes to the tune of what the lower chamber says will be just over $2.5 billion, a slight decrease from the Senate’s fiscal analysis.

HB 4568 passed in a 69-34 vote following pushback from some Democratic lawmakers – though more than one-quarter of the caucus voted yes – who claim that any relief offered through the legislation would not be immediate enough.

Fourteen House Democrats voted in favor of the bill: Rep. Darrin Camilleri of Brownstown Township, Rep. Kevin Coleman of Westland, Rep. Alex Garza of Taylor, Rep. Carol Glanville of Walker, Rep. Jim Haadsma of Battle Creek, Rep. Kevin Hertel of Saint Clair Shores, Rep. Jewell Jones of Inkster, Rep. Matt Koleszar of Plymouth, Rep. Padma Kuppa of Troy, Rep. David LaGrand of Grand Rapids, Rep. Terry Sabo of Muskegon, Rep. Shri Thanedar of Detroit, Rep. Karen Whitsett of Detroit and Rep. Angela Witwer of Delta Township.

All except Mr. Coleman, Mr. Jones, and Ms. Whitsett are running in competitive elections this year.

Democratic lawmakers were loud in their displeasure for the package, however, with House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township) in a floor speech calling the move inadequate and a misuse of one-time dollars.

“What this bill does is send an IOU to you to collect after Tax Day 2023,” she said. “That’s a minimum of 12 to 15 months from now. You don’t know the price of beef, bread or milk – or anything – will be next year. But we do know that Michiganders need relief at the grocery line right now. … What this bill does is point out the recklessness, again, and irresponsibility of using a one-time surplus to bankrupt the future of our children and grandchildren.”

Nonetheless, Republicans say their plan provides continuing relief for Michiganders beyond what Ms. Whitmer is proposing.

Rep. Matt Hall (R-Comstock Township), speaking to reporters before the vote, said he thought the plan was the result of Republicans listening to Ms. Whitmer’s issues with a previous $2.5 billion tax cut and working to better incorporate Democratic wants, like an increase of the EITC.

“We listened, we looked at what she had, we worked with the Senate, and I think we have a pretty good plan – another $2.5 billion plan that will save Michigan workers and families a lot of money,” Mr. Hall said. “So, we’re very proud of the plan and I think it’ll be something that really helps the people in Michigan. … Now, with all of the inflation, cost of living increases that have really been caused by Democrats, (people) are suffering. And this plan will give that relief.”

The House-passed bill is one part of Republicans’ tax cut plan unveiled early Tuesday which is a variation from another $2.5 billion tax cut plan vetoed by Ms. Whitmer earlier this year. That would have reduced the personal income tax rate to 3.9 percent while broadening exemptions in retirement income while establishing a $500 per child tax credit (See Gongwer Michigan Report, March 18, 2022).

Earlier Thursday before the Legislature had finalized its proposal, Ms. Whitmer told reporters at a media availability that the Republican proposal is “not a real plan.”

“It is a massive move that they are making, using some one-time funds without real regard for what it’s going to mean about our ability to invest in skills, lure investment in Michigan, to invest in education,” Ms. Whitmer said. “All of these things are crucial to the strength of our economy. We’re making great progress. We cannot afford to go backward, especially for something that doesn’t actually give people relief right now.”

The GOP proposal when unveiled Thursday afternoon called for a reduction in the personal income tax from 4.25 percent to 4 percent beginning with the 2023 tax year. An increase in the personal exemption of $1,800, would take effect in the 2023 tax year.

A $500 tax credit per child is also included and would be available beginning in tax years beginning on January 1, 2022.

The senior exemption would be raised to $21,800 for single filers and $43,600 for joint filers from $20,000 and $40,000, respectively, beginning January 1, 2023, after a person reaches 67 years old. The exemption would also be indexed for inflation beginning with the 2024 tax year.

Another proposal in the package would raise the Earned Income Tax Credit from 6 percent of a taxpayer’s federal EITC to 20 percent beginning with the 2022 tax year.

There is also a portion that deals with taxes for veterans, which beginning in the 2023 tax year would allow a disabled veteran who met the bill’s criteria (as well as a veteran’s widow, or widow of a veteran killed in action) to claim a credit against their income tax in an amount equal to 100 percent of the property tax levied on their homestead deductible for federal income tax purposes.

The second bill, SB 784, mainly included several provisions outlining the mechanics of the disabled veteran part of the proposal.

Prior to Senate passage of HB 4568, Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing) introduced an amendment that failed along party lines and perhaps shed some light on Ms. Whitmer’s rebate concept might work. It would have provided $500 per household plus $100 for each dependent for all households with an adjusted gross income of less than $250,000. There was no information as to how many households would be eligible nor the cost.

Mr. Hertel prior to the vote said the one-time assistance to residents in his amendment would provide immediate help that is urgently needed. The GOP plan, he said, does nothing to help struggling families now and little to those with lower incomes that are most in need, adding it provides more to those in the wealthiest income brackets.

“It reminds me of the old Popeye cartoon where you have a character named Wimpy, and Wimpy would say that he will ‘gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today,'” Mr. Hertel said. “That’s exactly what this Republican tax plan is: it’s wimpy. No help now, just a promise for a future after an election.”

The gulf between Republicans and Democrats was laid bare in remarks by Mr. Shirkey and Mr. Hertel to reporters following the session both on the content of the competing plans and where they believed negotiations stood.

Mr. Hertel called the majority leader’s claims of a governor having anything to do with inflation one of the craziest things he has heard in his time in the Senate, adding inflation is a global concern right now.

The senator also said there were rumors Wednesday that a tax package might be coming from the Republicans, but members did not see the bills until about five minutes prior to the vote.

He reiterated that Michigan families need help now, not tax cuts that do not take effect for one or more years. He said serious negotiations need to begin, which he has been open to for some time.

“The proposal that we put out today is mostly based on current one-time funding,” Mr. Hertel said. “The problems that Michiganders face right now are also one-time, so let’s get the money in their pockets now and help them survive.”

Mr. Shirkey told reporters the Democratic stance on immediate relief Thursday was hypocritical given the party was against a gas tax suspension bill that Ms. Whitmer recently vetoed, and the Democrats had refused to approve immediate effect for when passed by the Legislature.

When asked who is refusing to negotiate, Mr. Shirkey rejected the premise, saying the Legislature has repeatedly sent the governor bills containing what he called solid policy.

“Just about everything in this bill at one time or another, with the exception of maybe the reduction in income tax, has been called for by this governor, and so she can find her fingerprints in virtually 80 percent of what this bill includes,” Mr. Shirkey said.

As to whether the governor has asked to negotiate with him, he said she has not, and that they rarely meet. He added that he met with the governor Thursday morning, going over the concepts in the tax legislation and more. Mr. Shirkey said the governor handed out details of her $500 rebate plan near the end of that meeting “just before her pandering press release.”

“There’s nothing wrong with negotiations, nor is there anything wrong with pressing something that’s not being done,” Mr. Shirkey said. “There’s no leadership occurring right now to try to provide the kinds of policies necessary to make Michigan attractive to capital, both human capital and financial capital, and that’s what Republicans are doing, we’re trying to make sure that we are attractive to those kinds of investments.”

Mr. Shirkey also defended his accusation of Ms. Whitmer being complicit in the rising rate of inflation.

“She has shut down industries, businesses, lifestyle, which has caused the reaction from the federal government to have to do something that is almost unprecedented, and that is to send out trillions of dollars, ostensibly to help, but it is what has caused the inflation, so she’s absolutely complicit,” Mr. Shirkey said.

Senate Fiscal Agency estimates put the reduction in revenue at $581.3 million for the 2021-22 fiscal year, growing to $2 billion in fiscal year 2022-23 and then to $2.63 billion in 2023-24 and $2.69 billion in 2024-25.

The House Fiscal Agency currently projects a year-end balance in the 2022-23 fiscal year of $6.3 billion based on the budget bills the House passed, which are far slimmer than what Ms. Whitmer recommended. That would seem to indicate that if the plans passed Thursday became law, they could be paid for over the next two fiscal years but then there would have to be sufficient revenue growth or spending reductions to keep the budget balanced from then on.

Broken out, the General Fund would see a reduction of $494.1 million in fiscal year 2021-22 under the proposal before increasing to $1.79 billion in 2022-23, to $2.38 billion in 2023-24, and $2.44 billion in 2024-25. School Aid Fund monies would decline by an estimated $87.2 million in fiscal year 2021-22, with that figure climbing to $217.5 million in 2022-23, to $242.6 million in 2023-24, and to $244.5 million in 2024-25.

Following the votes, the response from the political parties and various groups in statements was split.

Michigan Republican Party spokesperson Gustavo Portela said the move Thursday showed the Republicans were taking the lead on helping Michigan families “while Gretchen Whitmer continues to be distracted playing national politics.”

“Michigan Republicans are putting small businesses and working Michiganders first with the latest package passed by the Legislature,” Mr. Portela said. “If Gretchen Whitmer is serious about her newfound religion on providing relief from the policies coming from her ally, Joe Biden, she will sign this relief into law when it reaches her desk.”

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes called the GOP plan a sham and urged lawmakers to begin negotiations with the administration.

“This legislative GOP circus continues, expanding chaos and corruption into a third ring ramming through a self-sabotaging tax plan that would impact Michigan’s ability to function at the most basic level and undermine all of our economic progress,” Ms. Barnes said. “To really underline their total disregard for working families, they cultivated a sham plan to force cuts to public schools and defund local police and fire protection that wouldn’t even go into effect until next year.”

Brian Calley, Small Business Association of Michigan president and CEO, supported the move by calling it “past time to provide permanent tax relief” while the state is flush with billions in surplus revenue.

“SBAM is very supportive of this sensible legislative plan to lower the individual tax rate, which is the main tax small business owners pay, while also expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to better support Michigan workers and their families,” Mr. Calley said. “Providing broad, permanent tax relief for Michiganders and small businesses is the fair and equitable thing to do and we hope to see these plans become law in the near future.”

Michigan Freedom Fund Executive Director Tori Sachs praised legislative Republicans while bashing the proposal from Ms. Whitmer.

“You can always count on Governor Whitmer to do whatever it takes to advance her own political standing and today’s proposed ‘rebates’ are an election year stunt after she vetoed tax cuts on gas and relief for families and seniors,” Ms. Sachs said. “We applaud Republicans in Lansing for proposing meaningful tax relief for family pocketbooks while Whitmer shows her desperation to slow her falling poll numbers.”

Monique Stanton, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, called for negotiations on what she called areas of agreement including on the EITC. A coalition the group is a part of recently called for raising the EITC to 30 percent (See Gongwer Michigan Report, April 28, 2022).

“The components for a compromise are there, particularly the understanding that we need to do more for Michigan workers and parents who are barely making ends meet,” Ms. Stanton said. “Policymakers clearly recognize that the EITC benefits kids, workers, and businesses in every part of the state, and while significant differences remain around what to do with the state’s expected surplus revenue, it’s noteworthy that raising the EITC continues to be the lone proponent with bipartisan agreement.”

Report: Reading Scores Stagnant, Ranking Could Drop By 2030
A report released Tuesday by Education Trust-Midwest said Michigan’s fourth grade reading scores haven’t budged in more than a decade and the state’s ranking nationwide could drop heading into 2030 without changes.

Michigan’s fourth grade reading scores have remained largely stagnant for 16 years, with the state ranking 32nd in the nation for fourth grade reading. The report also projected that by 2030, the state would drop in ranking to 39th overall for fourth grade reading and see a slight increase in eighth grade math scores by ranking 27th.

The report, titled “Still Stalled: State of Michigan Education Report 2022,” also found the math scores for eighth grade students were down as well, ranking in the bottom 50 percent as of 2019. The state ranked 27th in the nation for eighth grade math.

“While these results are clearly troubling, they also represent an opportunity for our state to create a ‘new normal,’ where every student has the opportunity to achieve and where students with the greatest needs receive the funding and resources they need to succeed,” Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest, said in a statement.

Though there have been many studies illustrating the negative effects of remote learning, this study focuses on pre-pandemic test scores. Even before the trials of virtual learning during the pandemic, Michigan students were struggling to keep up nationally.

Eighth grade math scores showed improvement but still did not measure up to other states. Tennessee for instance showed an 11.9 average scale score change while Michigan only saw a 3.8 average scale score change.

Latino students in eighth grade math performed in the bottom half of states and Black students ranked in the bottom 10 for the same criteria.

Nealy all test scores – nationally and statewide – mimicked similar results, with the K-12 students falling behind in a variety of areas. While other states have seen scores rise between 2003-2019, Michigan literacy scores fell half a point while the national average score rose three points.

The state also ranked in the bottom 10 states for fourth grade reading among Black students in 2019 and among Latino students, the state performed in the bottom 50 percent for that same year.

For Michigan’s M-STEP testing data from 2019, the organization found that only 45.1 percent of all students demonstrated proficiency in third grade English Language Arts. Further, students of color, students with disabilities, and students from low-income backgrounds fell at least 11 percent below the statewide average.

White students scored about the statewide average, but only 53.1 percent demonstrated proficiency in reading at the third-grade level.

Statewide math scores showed similar problems, with the statewide average for seventh grade math for all students in 2019 being 35.7 percent. Students of color and low-income students’ proficiency rates were more than 10 percent below the statewide rate and white students scored above the average but only 42.5 percent demonstrated proficiency.

As for mid-pandemic data, the researchers said Michigan was granted a participation waiver in 2021. Before this waiver in 2019, more than 90 percent of Black students, Latino students, and low-income students participated in the third-grade state reading assessment. In 2021, that number dropped a drastic 30 percent in participation for Latino and low-income students. Black student participation dropped more than 50 percent.

“National research supports that these student groups may have experienced larger unfinished instruction compared to others,” researchers wrote. “It is also important to note that students of color and low-income students that were not assessed may not experience the benefit of data being used to allocate further resources and supports to assist in their educational recovery from the pandemic.”

Mid-pandemic English Language Arts and math rates continued to show the decline. The M-STEP statewide proficiency rate dropped from 45.1 percent to 42.8 percent. Black students dropped to 15.4 percent, Latino students to 31.1 percent, and low-income students to 27.6 percent. White students still remained above the 2019 and 2021 proficiency rates, but 49.1 percent demonstrated proficiency in the English Language Arts.

Math M-STEP scores for seventh grade came in at a statewide average of 32.3 percent, down from 35.1 percent in 2019. Black students experienced the largest slow-down, with 9.2 percent demonstrating math proficiency. Low-income students came in second to last, with 17.1 percent demonstrating math proficiency, followed by 20.5 percent of Latino students demonstrating proficiency. White students, though scoring above both the 2019 and 2021 statewide average, demonstrated 36.2 percent proficiency.

The report recommends the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund be used to prioritize those whose needs are greatest, invest in strategies such as targeted intensive tutoring, and being open and transparent about spending.

The researchers praised Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature for reinforcing in 2020 the need for education data and transparency through a bipartisan package. The legislation, which ensured that every district had access to benchmark assessments aligned with state standards, has allowed the data to inform educational experts on the impact the pandemic has had on students.

The researchers also recommended the Department of Education continue its commitment to transparency and national standards by continuing the administration of M-STEP. Requesting the state improve by adopting an earlier timeframe for releasing the schools like other states do.

A weighted student funding formula was also suggested. By including equity weights based on research, the increase in adequacy funding will over time automatically close opportunity gaps for marginalized students, low-income students, students in rural and isolated communities, and students in underserved communities.

The state is vastly behind others in terms of funding weight for underserved students. Massachusetts for instance grants up to 105 percent more funding for low-income students and Maryland gives 73 percent more. Michigan on the other hand has a weight of 11.5 percent and it is estimated only nine percent is spent in recent budget years.

English learners in certain districts in Georgia are allocated 159 percent more funding while Michigan once again only guarantees up to 11 percent in additional funding for English Learners. The researchers are suggesting at least 100 percent more funding for students from low-income backgrounds and at least 75 percent to 100 percent more funding for English Learners. Additional funding for students with disabilities is also being recommended.

Attracting teacher talent to schools remains a struggle for the education system. In the report, the researchers strongly recommended the Legislature use the federal stimulus dollars and close the $10,000 salary gap for teachers in districts serving greater percentages of economically disadvantaged students.

It also recommended continued protection to financial aid access, finding that on average low-income students paying in-state tuition at a four-year public university or college while living on campus face a $2,347 affordability gap.

HFA: Revenues Up $5B In Current, Next Fiscal Year
The House Fiscal Agency is revising revenues upward $2.78 billion in the current fiscal year and $2.24 billion in the 2022-23 fiscal year, it said in its economic forecast released ahead of this week’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference.

On Wednesday, the House agency released its numbers, which are slightly higher than the Senate Fiscal Agency estimates released Tuesday (See Gongwer Michigan Report, May 17, 2022).

While the two agencies were similar in their projections for the current 2021-22 fiscal year, at $2.8 billion between the School Aid Fund and General Fund, the HFA is revising revenues in the 2022-23 fiscal year upward more than the SFA.

Specifically, the House is estimating the General Fund in the current fiscal year to be $1.47 billion higher than the January consensus and the School Aid Fund $1.31 billion higher.

For the 2022-23 fiscal year, for which the Legislature and administration are currently planning a budget, the HFA is estimating revenues to be $1.4 billion higher in the General Fund and $825 million higher in the School Aid Fund.

The HFA, SFA, and officials with the Department of Treasury will meet Friday to determine officially how to revise revenue projections. Treasury does not release its forecast ahead of the conference.

Further, the HFA is estimating the General Fund year-end balance for the current fiscal year to be $5.4 billion and the School Aid Fund $4.9 billion in the current fiscal year. For the next fiscal year, based on the House version of the budget, the HFA is estimating a year-end balance of $3.8 billion in the General Fund and $2.6 billion in the School Aid Fund.

Wayne County Clerk: Hollier Stays On Ballot, Griffie To Appeal
Sen. Adam Hollier will remain on the 2022 ballot as a candidate in the 13th U.S. House District, the Wayne County clerk said Wednesday in a response to a challenge from another Democratic candidate in the race.

Michael Griffie has challenged Mr. Hollier’s eligibility, alleging the lawmaker had not filed an amended campaign finance report as he was required to do at the time of his filing to run for Congress (See Gongwer Michigan Report, April 25, 2022).

However, Elections Director Jonathan Brater informed Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett that although the online system had not yet reflected it, Mr. Hollier had indeed satisfied all requirements as of April 12. He filed to run for Congress on April 15.

Still, Mr. Griffie said Wednesday he would appeal the determination.

“Political insiders and career politicians must play by the same rules as everyone else. This is why we plan to appeal the clerk’s decision,” he said in a statement. “We need a new generation of leaders who play by the rules and are committed to transparency and good governance.”

Mr. Griffie and Mr. Hollier are running in the open 13th District in a crowded field. John Conyers III, Rep. Shri Thanedar, former Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, Angela McIntosh, Sam Riddle, Portia Roberson, Lorrie Rutledge, and Adrian Tonon are also seeking the Democratic nomination.

The decision from the Wayne County clerk came as the state and local clerks are making determinations on ballot eligibility for candidates up and down the ballot.

On Wednesday, the Department of State deemed several candidates ineligible, including 11 for outstanding campaign finance issues at the time of their filing. Sen. Betty Alexander (D-Detroit) was one of those candidates, and her campaign intends to challenge the finding (See Gongwer Michigan Report, May 17, 2022).

Santana Seeks To End State Oversight Of Detroit
State oversight of Detroit would end more than a decade earlier than planned under a series of bills introduced Tuesday by Sen. Sylvia Santana

The package would repeal parts of the measures put in place during its bankruptcy proceedings which Ms. Santana (D-Detroit) said are no longer necessary.

In a Wednesday release, Ms. Santana said sacrifices have been made by those in the city and it is now on a firm financial footing, which she said should enable it to govern its own finances once more rather than the state.

The bills include the repeal of the Michigan Financial Commission Review (SB 1037 ) and the Michigan Settlement Administration Authority Act (SB 1036 ), put in place when the city was navigating its financial woes.

In 2014 the package provided $195 million in an effort to guarantee about $1 billion to shore up the city pensioner’s income and protect the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“At the time, Detroit’s ‘Grand Bargain’ kept the city’s lights on and kept people safe during times of tragic upheaval in one of America’s great cities – but that time is over, and the state must cede control back to local elected officials,” Ms. Santana said. “Residents who made many financial sacrifices – especially those who forfeited retirement income – deserve to have the city back in control of the people they voted for, not officials in Lansing.”

The remaining bills in the package, SB 1038, SB 1039, and SB 1040, would do multiple things. The bills would eliminate the population threshold applying to the city of Detroit would be ended that opts out of employer-provided health care for public employees, repeal the chief financial officer on Detroit’s financial commission and modify restrictions put in place on public pensions.

As enacted, a nine-member commission was put in place mostly consisting of gubernatorial appointees and chaired by the state treasurer. The 2014 legislation was intended to provide oversight of the city’s finances through 2034.

“There is still a lot of work we must do in Detroit to right the wrongs leading up to the bankruptcy in 2014, but the Motor City is back,” Ms. Santana said. “We must give control back to the community and that is precisely what my legislation intends to do.”

The bills were referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), chair of Appropriations, said he would have to look into the issue a bit more before considering whether the package would warrant a hearing.

He said his initial concern was whether legislative action might be possible given the terms of the bankruptcy settlement in federal court. Also, he would like to know more about what stakeholders or local officials may be supportive of the senator’s proposal and if any of the proposed changes might help the city.

“We’ve seen an amazing comeback for Detroit. We have to make sure Detroit continues to grow and succeed,” Mr. Stamas said, adding some of the policies included in the overall settlement may have been factors in the turnaround, along with the work of the mayor and local business leaders.