Politically motivated incidents at all levels of government in recent years have profoundly shaken public perceptions of the health of American democracy. Administrators are also affected. A new study by the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State and Urban Policy found that more than 60 percent of the state’s local politicians rated democracy in the United States as a whole as “poor” on a scale of 10, with a four or below.
“Only 10% of Michigan local officials currently rate the functioning of federal democracy as relatively strong, at seven or more,” said the report, whose results date from 2022 Michigan Public Policy Survey by more than 1,800 local administrators in Michigan, conducted between April 4th and June 6th this year by a).”
The results on opinions on democracy released last month are consistent with the results of the similar survey last year. This is not surprising considering what has happened in the state in recent years, in addition to national incidents such as the January 6 riot.
“Michigan has seen many extraordinary political events recently, including a planned governor kidnapping, significant and hostile disputes at local school and government council meetings over COVID-19-related statewide restrictions and mask mandates, an election during the 2020 pandemic and beyond controversies surrounding its certification and more,” the report reads.
Other questions asked by respondents related to fiscal health issues, and in this regard, local Michigan leaders reported short-term improvements and long-term concerns.
“Despite significant state and federal aid in recent years, Michigan local leaders’ assessments of their spring 2022 fiscal stress remain essentially unchanged compared to 2021 and 2020,” said a brief report of those findings, released this month became. “Nationally, 65% of local politicians rate their government’s fiscal burden as relatively low (a score of 4 or lower on the MPPS’ 10-point fiscal burden index), while 7% say it is high (at a 7 or higher). ).”
Larger communities reported the most significant improvement in budgetary conditions, while administrators from smaller Michigan towns reported the most stress.
“Meanwhile, 25% of state local governments currently report moderate levels of fiscal strain (scores of 5 or 6 on the 10-point scale) and 7% report high levels of fiscal strain (scores of 7 or higher),” it said in the report.
Another notable finding from the most recent report is that 61% of Michigan respondents reported increased property taxes in 2022. That’s the highest percentage since the Michigan Public Policy Survey began tracking it in 2009.
Looking ahead, there is some optimism among administrators about next year’s tax improvements. Most said they thought it would just stay stable. And while many are confident that their communities will be financially stable in the short term, there is uncertainty over the long term.
“Even though local officials continue to report improvements in short-term household health, 14% now predict they will have high household burdens five years from now, compared to 7% who say so are experiencing it now,” the report continues. Meanwhile, 55% expect a low household burden five years from now, compared to 65% who say they have a low burden today.”
For more information and the results, visit the University of Michigan Center for Local, State and Urban Policy website.