Michigan Lawmakers Approve Detroit Bankruptcy Deal

The deal would protect the Detroit Institute of Art from having to sell off it's artwork. (Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell, Detroit Free Press)
The deal would protect the Detroit Institute of Art from having to sell off it’s artwork.
(Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell, Detroit Free Press)

The “grand bargain” of bills thatwill send $194.8 million from the state to Detroit to help settle the city’s historic bankruptcy sailed through the state Senate on Tuesday and are on their way to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

Republican Randy Richardville, the Senate majority leader, called approval of the package of nine bills a “smart, conservative decision” that will help ease cuts to the city’s pensioners, save the artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts from sale, and indemnify the state from future lawsuits regarding the bankruptcy.

Missing from the package is a bill that would have prohibited the DIA from seeking a renewal of a tax rate to support the museum or asking for a new one.

“There was no support for that on this committee,” Richardville said.

Many of the bills — especially those providing state oversight over the city and setting limits on what can be contributed to pension and health care plans — passed with large bi-partisan majorities. The bills providing the actual money to the city were much closer, passing by votes of 21-17, one more than was needed for passage.

“We are all politicians, that’s the nature of the game,” said Democratic Sen. Tupac Hunter, giving kudos to Snyder and legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle for their leadership on the bill. “This is one of those times that we are to be statesman.”

Snyder returned the favor, praising the consideration given by bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate.

“This is what bipartisanship is all about. This was about great teamwork,” Snyder said. “And this is a historic day in terms of looking at Michigan’s future. This package of bills will allow the grand bargain to go forward and let people know that Detroit is a growing community and everyone is focused on the growth of the city.”

Snyder said he would sign the bills in the next day or two.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, the chief federal negotiator on the bankruptcy case, met with senators Tuesday morning and stayed to witness the bills passage.

“This is so important. Today we are all Detroiters and we are all Michiganians,” Rosen said.

The vote came after the Senate Government Operations committee heard from a handful of groups, most of whom supported the grand bargain.

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Source: USA Today | Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press

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