Local leaders rate most state departments low, but say Michigan's headed in right direction

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ANN ARBOR—Local government leaders in Michigan spared their praise when evaluating the performance of 14 state departments and agencies.

Just two received good or excellent ratings from a majority of local officials statewide—the Michigan State Police (58 percent positive) and the Secretary of State (54 percent positive)—according to a University of Michigan survey.

By contrast, local officials' net ratings for nine other departments were less than positive. The departments of Environmental Quality and Transportation received the lowest net scores overall, as a majority of local leaders rated their performance as fair or poor (53 percent and 55 percent, respectively), according to the survey by U-M's Ford School of Public Policy.

The Michigan Public Policy Survey also asked local leaders for their views on whether Michigan is headed in the right direction and if Gov. Rick Snyder and the state legislature were doing a good job.

The survey, conducted by the U-M Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, reports that:

  • Local leaders express largely similar views compared to last year, with 55 percent saying Michigan is going in the right direction.
  • Overall, 52 percent believe Snyder has done a good or excellent job in 2014, compared to 51 percent who felt this way in 2013. The percentage that rate his performance as poor is down to 15 percent from 19 percent last year.
  • Less than a third, or 28 percent, of local officials rate the state legislature's performance as either good or excellent, while 32 percent rank it as poor.

Because policymaking in Lansing has such far-reaching impact on Michigan's local governments, local leaders have a strong incentive to be interested in how business is conducted there, said Tom Ivacko, CLOSUP administrator.

"In a multitude of ways, policies that start at the state level are crucial to local governments in the end," Ivacko said.

The study, conducted April 8-June 10, 2014, involved surveys sent via hardcopy and the Internet to top elected and appointed officials in Michigan. Of those, 1,344 jurisdictions returned valid surveys, resulting in a 72 percent response rate. The survey had a margin of error of 1.4 percentage points.

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