LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An attempt to kill a Michigan law that gives emergency managers sweeping powers to fix poor communities’ finances will appear on the November ballot, the state Supreme Court said Friday, handing unions a major victory in their clash with Republican Gov. Rick Snyder over the law.
The law passed last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Snyder allows the governor to appoint people to run cities and school districts that are financially distressed. Managers have sweeping authority to cut spending, sell assets and tear up contracts without the approval of elected officials.
Unions representing workers who were laid off or had their pay cut by managers challenged the law in court, but lost. They see a statewide vote as another chance to get rid of it.
Republicans control Michigan’s highest court, 4-3, but GOP Justice Mary Beth Kelly broke from the majority in this case and provided the crucial vote to order the Board of State Canvassers to put the referendum on the ballot.
The Supreme Court was asked to decide a technical issue: Did the petitions used to gather signatures have the right type size? Kelly said they did, while three Democrats voted to uphold a decision by the appeals court. Combined, those four votes mean the issue will go to the voters.
Emergency managers are in place in Benton Harbor, Flint, Pontiac and Ecorse, as well as in public schools in Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights.
Although Detroit doesn’t have a manager, the possibility of appointing one led Mayor Dave Bing and the city council to sign a deal with the governor that put several strict requirements in place to repair the city’s finances.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.