Michigan elected a Republican governor and a Republican legislature in 2010. Just over a year later, half the state's African-American population is on the verge of having no meaningful local democracy. Michigan's expanded emergency manager law gives the state the power to install an overseer for failing towns and school districts. As we've seen in Benton Harbor and Flint, that person can then strip all power from elected officials.
Last night on the show, the Reverend David Bullock of Highland Park and Rainbow Push argued that there should be no connection between taking away democracy and fixing a town's finances. Reverend Bullock cited the continued financial distress of the Detroit Public Schools, Benton Harbor and his own Highland Park as evidence that emergency managers can't magically save broken places:
You cannot manage a blood loss. If I were in a car accident and I was losing blood, you wouldn't manage how much blood I was losing, you would stop the bleeding, and you would send a blood transfusion. We need targeted reinvestment in Michigan.
Today in Michigan, we get a glimpse of what targeted reinvestment might look like. Democrats in the State Senate are proposing that the state offer free college tuition to Michigan's high school graduates. The Democrats want to fund that by pulling back on tax credits for companies. As the Democrats' announcement describes it, the plan would eliminate 10 percent of the state's current $34 billion in corporate credits -- enough to cover tuition for all the state's graduates.
The response from Michigan Republicans today was about what you'd expect -- sort of noncommittal, with expressions of support for lowering student debt, and not much more.