If I told you that there were 1,600 fewer cops on the streets in
Michigan today than on 9/11 would you be surprised? What about 2,400
less fire fighters? These statistics fly in the face of what people
see on TV and read on the web about the nation’s focus on homeland
security. But the fact of the matter in Michigan is that public safety
is largely a function of local government and the state has been
disinvesting in communities for well over a decade. Cities, in
particular, are showing real signs of distress.
I can tell you that from my talks with local officials that cutting
police and fire is the last thing that they consider when trying to
balance their budgets. So the massive layoffs are occurring only after
roads aren’t being resurfaced, libraries are closing and recreation
programs are being scaled back. And as I write this Blog the State
Legislature is considering additional cuts to communities to solve
their own self created state budget mess.
So if knowledge-based workers are looking for vibrant communities,
does it make sense for the state to continue to disinvest in the cities
that appeal to them? If we are really serious about turning our
economic ship around, we must reverse the trend of $2 billion in cuts
to community funding, repeated legislative attacks on local revenue
streams, and a lack of consensus on transportation strategies that has
resulted in millions of federal dollars being left on the table in D.C.
At a time when our future is tied to our ability to attract
knowledge-based workers and businesses, it’s reckless to continue to
cut the knees out from those who are charged with providing the
environment that they seek.
It’s not just Detroit that is hurting, either. Communities like
Livonia and Dearborn, long envied for their large tax base and
efficient service delivery, have joined the growing list of metro
Detroit communities who are cutting critical services. Their financial
troubles have less to do with the economy than they do with the
outdated system that they are required to work under.
Vibrant communities attract talented people. Talented people attract
knowledge-based businesses. Together they make for a strong economy and
a higher quality of life for everyone, but we can’t consistently
produce these types of places if the state continues to direct
For more information on the funding crisis, check out our award-winning video on YouTube.