Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 14, 2014

Another View: OK of bankruptcy deal shows lawmakers get it

Lansing, take a bow.

The state Senate … approved a package of bills crucial to resolving Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, protecting the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts and shoring up the pensions of city retirees. Approved by the state House nearly two weeks ago, the bills are now en route to Gov. Rick Snyder, who is expected to sign them into law.

It’s an exceptional effort from a Legislature that’s too often fractious. It’s also a vote of confidence, not only from lawmakers, but Michiganders across the state, who consistently told pollsters that they support grand bargain — the $816 million deal (comprising funds pledged by the state, philanthropic foundations and the DIA itself).

For a city that’s too often the butt of jokes and derision, it’s a heartening show of solidarity.

“The only thing separating Detroit from Michigan is a comma,” state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

We’ll go one step further: Detroit is the state’s principal city. Period. Even after decades of population decline, Detroit is home to more Michiganders than any other city in the state.

These things matter: the lives of retirees, many of whom would face steep, impoverishing pension cuts, in the absence of the grand bargain funds. The DIA, the most important cultural asset in the state. The health of Detroit, without which the State of Michigan can’t claim success.

Lawmakers — most of them, at any rate — got it.

In the state House, most of the 10 bills in the grand bargain package passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. In four instances, at least 100 of the House’s 110 members voted to approve them.

Bills to create oversight for Detroit passed the Senate by wide majorities; the crucial bill — detailing a one-time state payment to Detroit of $194.8 million — passed 21-17, a much narrower margin. Lawmakers also voted down a House bill that would have prevented local voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties from renewing a 10-year operating millage for the DIA, approved by voters in all three counties in 2012.

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