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Bills to repeal the "Grand Bargain" imposed during Detroit's bankruptcy introduced in the state Senate

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Detroit's Grand Bargain saved the Detroit Institute of Arts — but the city, and its residents, made other sacrifices.

The largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history is over — but the effects of the "Grand Bargain" with Detroit's debtors, foundations, and the state of Michigan still linger.

Democratic State Senator Sylvia Santana has introduced bills to repeal changes to Michigan law that enabled the bankruptcy, saying they are no longer necessary.

The 2014 Grand Bargain protected the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts from being sold to pay city debts, but it also imposed restrictions like state financial oversight through the year 2034.

Santana said the city is in good financial shape, and it no longer needs the state intervening in budget decisions.

"It gives the mayor direct discretion to go to the state and negotiate for the city without that oversight of the council," she said. "Obviously, they are a part of the process, but the strength is not there."

A spokesman for Mayor Mike Duggan said he can't comment because he hasn't seen the bills.

Santana said getting rid of the remaining restrictions could also help the city's retired union members, who had to agree to concessions as part of the bargain.

"When you look at how their pensions and how their health care benefits were diminished through this process — I think that's something that needs to be taken into consideration when we go back to the drawing board."

Senate Bills 1036-1040 were introduced in the Senate on Tuesday. Santana has introduced similar bills in previous sessions of the state legislature.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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