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April 25 04:38 PM
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Funding cuts hampering county government


Dear Editor,

I am writing on behalf of Lapeer County in opposition to the potential of a complete raid of the convention facility fund in an effort to balance the 2007 state budget. Discus-sions are currently underway to liquidate that fund in Senate Bill 220, the negative supplemental appropriations bill for FY 2007. This represents a nearly $36 million direct hit to public safety and substance abuse treatment programs. The legislature and the governor are working to finalize the budget and fill the hole within the next two weeks.

Counties have already assisted the state to the tune of $183 million annually for a limited period of time. Furthermore, annual cuts to county programs in other areas of the budget have left critical county services which Michigan citizens rely upon in an extremely vulnerable position.

In addition, completely slashing substance abuse programs is extremely dangerous public policy, especially when taken in concert with proposals to accelerate the number of paroles and shift the sentencing guidelines, hence housing more felons locally.

We are calling upon the legislature to hold counties harmless. We have endured deep cuts in recent years and continue to remain responsible for providing extensive state mandated services.

A recent survey of 27 counties indicates that the state constitutionally or statutorily requires $1.1 billion dollars worth of mandated services; however, only $550 million of those dollars come from the state. It is simple mathematics, we cannot maintain the services we provide when the state continually cuts our funding. Michigan's citizens will directly suffer when services such as county jails, roads, local public health departments and public safety are cut again. We simply cannot maintain a quality of life for our citizens nor guarantee their safety if these cuts are made.

On behalf of Lapeer County, we ask members of the legislature to protect the services Michigan's counties provide. If citizens are concerned about these issues, contact your legislator and let them know you will not tolerate additional cuts to local government.

David Taylor, Chairman Lapeer County Board of Commissioners
May 23, 2007

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