The Craig Fahle Show

Lawmakers Question Strings Attached to State Support of Detroit

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kevyn Orr testifies before a state House committee (Weber-Davis)

A state House panel began debate this week on proposals for the state to help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy. The proposals include additional and continued state oversight of Detroit’s finances for years to come.

State Representative Thomas Stallworth III (D-Detroit) is the ranking Democrat on the panel. He says he is skeptical of “strings” attached to money from the state.

“Just how much oversight is really productive?" he asks. "I think it’s a fair and reasonable question. I don’t have an issue with oversight, given the world we live in today, but I think if we’re going to go down that path we have to do it in a fair and efficient way.”

The House committee on "Detroit's Recovery and Michigan's Future" heard testimony on the city’s plan of adjustment from Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, and is expected to hear later this week from Mayor Mike Duggan. The committee is composed of five members -- three Republicans and two Democrats -- which is a small panel for the House of Representatives. Stallworth says the small committee size ensures there aren't lawmakers making the decisions who could over-politicize the issues surrounding Detroit's bankruptcy. He says thousands of people's livelihoods depend on the state supporting Detroit through bankruptcy. And that support will likely include terms that involve the appointment of a Chief Financial Officer for the city and an oversight committee.

"Oversight is always a component of financial assistance," says Stallworth. He says he understands additional oversight will be a part of the proposal package (HB 5566 through HB 5576), but he says he wants it made clear how and when the city will emerge from the additional oversight via a committee or panel.

"I think we're going to have to continue to explain to people just how critical this is," Stallworth says of the "Grand Bargain". He says the state must be at the table to help the city emerge from bankruptcy. "Detroit is a legal entity, and this package of bills a set up primarily to help people."

Read a full transcript of Rep. Stallworth's conversation with WDET's Craig Fahle at Next Chapter Detroit.

-- Laura Weber-Davis