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Detroit Mayor's plea for payment gets cool reception in Lansing

Critics and allies alike say Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's proposal to get the state to pay the city more than $200 million faces an uphill battle.

It’s one of the ideas the Mayor has outlined to keep the city from going broke.

In 1998, Detroit lowered its city income tax in exchange for guaranteed levels of state revenue sharing. But city officials say the state reneged, and shorted Detroit about $220 million it was promised.

Bing says that would be enough to erase the city’s structural deficit, and the $45-million shortfall the city expects this year.

But Bing’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Brown, says he knows getting that money will be tough.

“The state’s gonna be tough on that, and we’re gonna be tough back with the state," Brown says. "The question is how do you approach it? If you don’t ask for it, you’re not gonna get it.”

Governor Snyder’s office isn’t exactly saying “no,” but Bing’s pitch hasn’t gotten a warm reception.

Snyder spokesperson Sara Wurfel says the Governor will do everything he can to help Detroit avoid a state takeover.  And she says the state has already done a lot, including approving two provisions to continue the city’s income and utility taxes.

But as for that money, Wurfel says: “Regardless of what past administrations or legislatures have done, Governor Snyder is focused on how to best help Detroit move forward in tough economic times.”

But Wurfel adds Detroit is free to plead its case with the state legislature.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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