Connecting state and local government leaders

Another Good Sign That Detroit Is on the Road to Fiscal Recovery

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Kentucky governor’s calls for agency spending cuts; Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor summer service reductions; and Rhode Island’s “car tax” repeal.

CITY HALLS | The city of Detroit’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, released Wednesday, shows that the 2016 fiscal year ended with a $63 million surplus and had it’s second balanced budget since emerging from bankruptcy in 2014. “We are operating in a very fiscally responsible way that we believe will have a lot of positive implications on the future,” according to Chief Financial Officer John Hill. [The Detroit News]

The City Council in Tacoma, Washington may vote in June on whether to drop restrictions in the city that block private citizens from legally owning, carrying, buying or selling stun guns like Tasers. Last week, City Attorney Bill Fosbre wrote a memo to the council and Tacoma’s city manager recommending that the weapons be decriminalized. Fosbre explained that constitutional protections likely apply to stun guns. A gun-rights organization, the Firearms Policy Coalition, has threatened to sue the city if it does not lift the stun gun ban, arguing that the prohibition is a violation of the Second Amendment. [The News Tribune]

STATE LEGISLATURES | Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is calling on state agencies to cut annual spending by 1 percent in June to balance the state’s budget. Kentucky’s fiscal year wraps up at the end of June. State Budget Director John Chilton told cabinet secretaries and other officials in a letter last week that the request is due to a drop in state revenues. Projections prepared by Chilton’s staff show that Kentucky’s general fund revenues will be $113 million shy of the $10.6 billion needed to balance the budget. [Courier-Journal]

Rhode Island state House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello introduced a plan on Tuesday to phase in a repeal of the state’s so-called “car tax.” His proposal to dial back the tax would cost the state  $26 million in the fiscal year that begins for the state on July 1. That amount would then grow gradually to $221 million by 2024. “I am delivering on a promise to begin the phaseout of a regressive, oppressive tax which all Rhode Islanders dislike,″ Mattiello said. “We have the highest car tax in the country.” [Providence Journal]

Kansas legislators passed a first-of-its-kind bill requiring abortion providers release their doctors’ histories to patients—on white paper in black, 12-point Times New Roman font, no less. Fewer than 10 physicians perform abortions for three providers in the state. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, an abortion opponent, is expected to sign the measure like every other anti-abortion bill that’s landed on his desk. Sen. Lynn Rogers, a Wichita Democrat, described the legislation as “simply harassment” of abortion providers and the women seeking them. [The Kansas City Star; The Associated Press]

INFRASTRUCTURE | The Texas State Legislature adjourned from its regular session on Monday without passing any bills that would stop a privately funded high-speed rail project that would link Dallas and Houston, meaning the project will proceed. “We have not and will not slow down the progress being made every day,” a spokeswoman for the Texas Central Railway project wrote in a legislative update.  “That work now only intensifies, and we are ever more passionate about it.” [Fort Worth Star Telegram]

Amtrak announced service cutbacks this summer along the busy Northeast Corridor between New York City and Washington, D.C., thanks to upcoming track rehabilitation work at Penn Station in Manhattan. The track work will shutter three of Penn Station’s 21 tracks. Ongoing infrastructure woes impacting Penn Station have helped make commuting in and out of North America’s busiest rail station miserable in recent months. Meanwhile in Trenton, New Jersey State Assemblyman John McKeon started oversight hearings into the mess, which has impacted New Jersey Transit commuter rail service. [New York Daily News; The Bergen Record / NorthJersey.com]

Streets with historic wooden pavers may be very uncommon, but Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have two examples. “If we don’t start making the investments in them, they’re going to start to fall apart and we’re going to lose those treasures in the next 50 to 100 years,” according to Steve Lorenz, the Philadelphia Streets Department’s chief highway engineer. The Pittsburgh City Council recently voted to make Roslyn Place a city historic site, giving protections to its wooden pavers. [Keystone Crossroads]

LAW ENFORCEMENT | Five Inglewood, California, police officers involved in a fatal shooting of a mother and father are no longer on the force, but due to confidentiality laws, it’s unclear whether they were fired or left on their own. The shootings of Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin sparked outrage in the community because some of the circumstances of what exactly happened were never explained. The district attorney has yet to decide whether to charge the officers criminally. [Southern California Public Radio / KPCC]