As I was filling out my NCAA bracket last week I had an epiphany—maybe this is how statutory revenue sharing is going to be decided in the future, thanks to a complicated Snyder administration program known as EVIP. For example, municipalities could get ranked and placed into a bracket with one another, advance by submitting more meaningless documentation to the state, and maybe receive enough to provide some of the public safety services they have had to stop delivering.
The odds of how much, if any, statutory revenue sharing a municipality will receive are surely similar to the largest of March Madness office pools.
The governor’s Economic Vitality Incentive Program, or EVIP, was created in 2011 with the goal of increasing accountability and transparency by attaching certain requirements to receive statutory revenue sharing funds.
The real problem with revenue sharing, however, is that the Legislature has fallen short of its promise to provide revenue for such local services as public safety — $6.2 billion short, in fact, over the last decade.
And after attending the Michigan Municipal League annual conference last week I can tell you that a lot of municipalities have had enough. Essential services are not being delivered in many cities, villages, and townships precisely because of the gargantuan revenue sharing cuts over the last decade. Statewide, more than 2,300 police officers and 1,800 firefighters have been lost since 2001.
Municipalities that have been declared to be in a financial emergency by the governor are the same ones that have suffered most from these draconian revenue sharing cuts. There must be some kind of relationship there.
While it is certainly true that municipalities cannot blame the governor for cuts made to revenue sharing before he was elected, they can blame him for EVIP which has only added insult to injury.
EVIP is much maligned by municipal managers as “busy work.” To be fair, EVIP had some altruistic intentions like transparency and government collaboration, but the entire program has forced managers to jump through hoops to get much-needed funds for their municipalities.
All this was bad enough–and then the governor released his 2015 budget that proposed putting even more complicated requirements into EVIP.
The proposal dangles more carrots in front of those municipalities who have received EVIP dollars in the past. It still doesn’t restore revenue sharing near where it should be, and more than a 1,000 cities, villages, and townships would still see nothing.
A change to the EVIP formula was approved by the House General Government Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday that would distribute the shared revenue more widely based on a population formula, though still not restoring full funding. The change would restrict how some larger communities will be able to spend their EVIP dollars.
The change has some merit but still puts municipalities at odds with one another because the 496 municipalities already receiving EVIP dollars would see most of the governor’s proposed increase to them go to their neighboring municipalities instead.
Let the EVIP madness begin.
– Jason Escareno