Induced Abortions in Michigan: The Numbers

Recent news that that Roe v. Wade may be overturned in an upcoming US Supreme Court ruling has many examining how such a decision will affect individuals across the country. In Michigan, a 1931 law that defines abortion as a felony could go into affect. This 91-year-old law states that it is illegal to perform abortions in many circumstances, including in cases of rape and incest; it also states that it is illegal to use drugs to induce abortions.

Currently, with Roe v. Wade, still standing, women are legally able to obtain abortions in Michigan with some restrictions, including:

•That a patient must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided;

•What coverage, if any, an insurance policy provides (according to the Michigan Department of Community Health 96 percent of reported induced abortions had a self pay source of payment);

•The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided;

•An abortion may be performed at or after viability only if the patient’s life is endangered.

Not only would Michigan be one of at least 26 states where access to safe abortions would be heavily restricted, but thousands of women would be negatively impacted.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, there were 29,669 induced abortions in Michigan in 2020, which was a rate of 15.8 induced abortions per 1,000 Michigan women aged 15-44. This is the highest induced abortion rate in Michigan since 1993, when a rate of 16.1 induced abortions per 1,000 Michigan women aged 15-44 was performed.

When delving further into Michigan’s induced abortion data we see that majority of women were 25 years of age or older. According to the data, 32 percent of Michigan women who had an induced abortion were 30 years of age or older, and 31 percent of women were between the ages of 25-29. Eight percent of women who had an induced abortion were 20 years of age or younger.

Additionally, of those induced abortions performed in Michigan in 2020 nearly 90 percent were performed in freestanding outpatient surgical facilities. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were 30 facilities providing abortions in Michigan in 2017, and 21 of those were clinics. Also in 2017, about 87 percent of Michigan counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 35% of Michigan women lived in those counties.

The data presented in this post shows that many women have abortions for many reasons—including for their health and safety. Every year, the women who chose to have an induced abortion are able to receive one in legal surgical facilities and often pay for the procedure out-of-pocket, as highlighted above. With the possible overruling of Roe v. Wade, thousands of Michigan women, and women across the country, could very well lose the option to have a safe, and legal induced abortion.

In anticipation of the ruling, some options to safeguard legal and safe abortions are occurring: 1)Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit in April of 2022 calling the Michigan Supreme Court to recognize that the Michigan constitution affords women reproductive rights and agency over their bodies. 2)Planned Parenthood has filed a similar lawsuit, through the Michigan Court of Claims, seeking to declare that the state’s constitution protects reproductive autonomy. 3)A petition drive launched by Reproductive Freedom for All seeks to amend the state constitution to affirm abortion rights. In order to place this on the November ballot 424,000 valid signatures are needed by mid-July. ●

Another means to safeguard abortion access in Michigan would be through approved legislation by the state legislature. Bills to repeal the 1931 ban have been introduced, but not brought forward for a vote.

What Can Detroit Can Do for Its Citizens: Their View

The Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies worked with MDP Black Caucus to develop the 2021 Detroit Resident Survey. This survey, based upon a random sample of Detroit residents found that the top area of improvement citizens want is community and neighborhood improvement/blight reduction. The second most frequently sought improvement was a reduction in crime together with an increase in community safety. Overall, there were 18 general areas that survey respondents said the City of Detroit can do to help them and their household. The 621 respondents to the survey made 437 suggestions on how the City can be improved.

As noted, the most common suggestion on what Detroit can do for citizens is to improve its community and neighborhoods and remove blight. Thirteen percent of respondents, or 55 citizens, made this suggestion. Eleven percent of respondents, or 46 citizens, suggested reducing crime and increasing community safety.

Blight and neighborhood improvements have long been a concern in the City of Detroit and while work has been done over the last several years, clearly residents still have concerns–as do community leaders. Between 2014 and 2020 more than 15,000 homes in the City of Detroit were knocked down with $265 million in federal funding. There are about 22,000 vacant properties left in the City that need to be addressed; the recent passage of Detroit’s Proposal N states the $250 million bond will allow an additional 8,000 to be razed and 6,000 to be secured.

On behalf of the Gilbert Family Foundation and Rocket Community Foundation, Dan and Jennifer Gilbert pledged $500 million over the next 10 years toward improving the Detroit community. The first $15 million will go toward paying the property taxes of 20,000 low income homeowners in the City. How the remainder of the donation will be spent has yet to be determined, but it could go toward things like digital equity, home repairs, housing access and employment. It is agreed upon though that with the funding must come a long-term strategy.

A reduction in blight can also improve community safety, according to a study by Wayne State University criminologists Matthew Larson and Charles Klahm IV. Larson and Klahm looked at Detroit crime data in areas where nearly 9,400 blighted homes were demolished between 2010 to 2014. According to their study they found that such blight demolitions reduced violent and property crimes. The study found that for about every three demolitions block-groups experienced about a 1 percent reduction in crime.

With a host of suggestions on how the City of Detroit can improve life for its residents it should not be a surprise than on a scale of 1-10 2021 Detroit Resident Survey respondents ranked their satisfaction with City leadership at a 5.75. Respondents rated their satisfaction with Wayne County leadership at a 5.62, at 6.9 with the State of Michigan’s leadership and 5.35 with the leadership at the federal level.

Tomorrow, we will further dig into the concerns of Detroit citizens, highlighting specific household and community concerns.

What Biden Should Do for Detroit: The Citizens’ View

A lot of expectations come with being elected President of the United States, and the citizens of Detroit want President Joe Biden’s top priority to be continuing to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the 2021 Detroit Resident Survey conducted by the Wayne State Center for Urban Studies between Jan. 15 and March 1, 2021, 39 percent of respondents said COVID-19 should be President Biden’s top issue. Respondents, all who are Detroit citizens, were asked to choose from a list of 10 priorities on what they believe should be the top. Of the 571 respondents to this question 225, or 39 percent, said it should be COVID-19. Livable wages, racism, access to affordable health care, police brutality and quality education were all separate priorities that each received 9 percent of the vote as to what Biden’s top priority should be.

As of March 28, 2021 an ABC News/Ipsos poll found that President Biden received a 72 percent national approval rating for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the same ABC News article states 75 percent of Americans back how the President is handling the distribution of COVID vaccines. In the State of Michigan 653,659 COVID-19 cases were confirmed as of March 27, 2021 and in Detroit 32,998 COVID cases have been confirmed. In terms of vaccine distribution, according to the State of Michigan, 18 percent of residents are fully vaccinated and 31 percent of residents have started the process. Furthermore, 9.5 percent of Detroit residents are fully vaccinated and 17.6 percent have started the process, according to the City of Detroit Health Department.

While vaccination numbers continue to rise in Detroit and the State of Michigan, so do COVID numbers. On March 26, 2021 there were 4,670 new cases in Michigan and a 10 percent positivity rate, the highest recorded since December 2020.

Aside from COVID infections and deaths, economic and education issues related to the disease loom too. In February of 2021 the Michigan unemployment rate was 5.2 percent and in Detroit the unemployment rate was 11.4 percent in January of 2021 (the most recent data at the local level). And, just as soon as schools began to open, several districts are again moving back to online learning in response to the uptick in COVID cases.

While Detroit citizens have opinions of what Biden’s top priorities as President should be they also expressed opinions on the following in the 2021 Detroit Resident Survey:

  • What they feel the state of leadership is at the federal, state and local level;
  • How Detroit officials can best serve their citizens;
  • What their top household and community concerns and problems are;
  • What the barriers to finding employment and building wealth are;

The responses to these issues will be further explored this week in additional blog posts.

All response data in this post and in upcoming posts are from the 2021 Detroit Resident Survey conducted by the Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies, with the assistance of the MDPBlack Caucus. The survey was based on a random sample of about 20,000 households whose information was purchased from a business marketing vendor. The households were distributed throughout Detroit and where available, the vendor provided landlines, mobile telephone numbers associated with each household. Survey interviewers reached 953 individuals, 678 of whom confirmed they were Detroit residents. The Survey Findings are based on weighted totals and statistics to achieve representative findings. Respondents received a chance to be randomly selected to receive one of 10 $50 visa gift cards.

Ten Things Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Should Do for Detroit

There are two reasons Detroit should have a special place in President-elect Joe Biden’s heart. First, because Detroit needs real help–now. And second is because Detroit is one of the key places that brought his victory. Detroiters voted in massive numbers for him and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and Democrats will need Detroit voters to win again. As the saying goes, you need to dance with the ones who brung you.

Here, then, are ten agenda items Biden and Harris should prioritize—giving back to a City that helped bring them into office.

1.Make plenty of vaccine doses available. Unemployment linked to COVID-19 closures have hit the poor and those in service jobs far harder than other industries. Unemployment numbers are more than double in Detroit than in Michigan. More vaccines mean it’s safer to go back to work, and Detroiters need that work and the accompanying income now. That will improve many other things mentioned here, including reducing violence.

2. Reduce the violence. We’ve seen major increases in murders and shootings. On surveys through the years, Detroiters have consistently said public safety is at the top of their agenda, but that does not translate to a desire for heavy duty police enforcement across the board. Rather than defund the police, Biden should talk about demilitarizing the police and making them responsive to the true needs of the community. Detroit citizens want tough action against the repeated violent offenders, but they want first time offenders and others diverted out of stigmatizing court process into community service, education and job training programs. For example, police regularly stop hundreds of people and arrest them for carrying illegal weapons. We need to divert these citizens into training programs that teach them about the risks of violence. We need to use conflict deflectors and de-escalators to reduce violence. Increased participation in youth sports and utilization of open community centers will also help deter violence. While many of these outlets have been closed and cancelled due to COVID restrictions, we must find ways to continue to offer such opportunities.  

3. Reduce domestic violence. Domestic violence, already high in Detroit, has increased under COVID-19, and the enforcement of parole violations for domestic violence offenders by Michigan Department of Corrections has declined.

Detroit has far fewer shelter beds than surrounding communities for survivors of domestic violence (DV) or intimate partner violence (IPV). This needs to be corrected immediately. Beyond that, survivors need to have far more access to advocates who can help them navigate the complex legal and support systems that do exist. They need more financial help to pay for things like moving to safe locations and serving Personal Protection Orders that are intended to help shield survivors from further violence.

4. Increase jobs for youth.  Detroit youth have extraordinary unemployment levels, well above the already high adult unemployment levels. This is a crisis, especially because we know that this will affect their lifetime earnings and connection to the workforce. Such high levels have led to challenges to democracy itself in other times and countries.

We need broad, youth employment programs funded by the federal government and operated by non-profits that do real work to help improve Detroit.  These jobs must create job ladders for youth so they have a future in which to invest.

5.Increase support for youth to go to college, apprenticeships, and training at community colleges. Many youth have no real way to pay for college.

We need to increase Pell Grants very substantially so youth who want higher education can get it without having a lifetime of debt, as so many do now. Apprenticeships and training in the skilled trades also often lead to good jobs with benefits and high wages—sometimes higher than college-educated jobs. These opportunities also need more funding so the youth have access to an even wider range of skills and jobs.

6.Fully fund special education. In Michigan, charter schools are implemented in a manner where they generally recruit higher performing students from the public schools, leaving the public schools with fewer higher performing students—who tend to cost less to educate. In major urban areas, charter schools proliferate and the public schools end up with a disproportionate share of special education students, which the charter schools avoid. These students cost more to educate. Because special education is not fully funded by the federal government, the costs are off loaded onto urban school districts in Michigan. These costs drive urban school districts into debt and decline. None of this makes it onto the debate stage, but this is the crucial work that needs to be completed to help Detroit and other cities like it. More federal funding is needed for special education students.

7.Invest massively in home repair. Detroit’s housing is crumbling with 63% of the housing units having at least one major health hazard. Lead paint, lack of heat, flooding, asbestos, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), structural hazards, fire hazards—these are all present across the range of homes in Detroit both for homeowners and renters.

Detroiters don’t have the money to pay for all these repairs, and Community Development Block Grant dollars continue to decrease. Money for repairs of existing homes is needed to make them safe and to protect existing residents from disease, injuries and break-ins. This will also protect them from gentrification.

8.Protect homeowners from foreclosure. This is a perennial issue in Detroit that turns into a crisis with every recession. In the Great Recession, many thousands of homes were wrenched from homeowners. Now foreclosures are high again.

Short term cash and longer term re-writing of mortgage agreements are critical to short circuiting this endless cycle of foreclosures that has already made Detroit a majority renter city. This too will protect existing homeowners from gentrification.

9.Invest heavily in weatherization. One the highest costs that Detroiters face are their utility bills, both for renters and homeowners. Leaky old houses mean huge heating bills that often take up a large part of the budgets of low and moderate income households. In neighborhoods like Southwest Detroit, where industry and traffic pollute the air, this weatherization should also include air filters to clear the air that people breathe most of the time (Americans typically spend 80% of their time in their homes).

The Obama Administration initiated a large weatherization program but the budget for that got nixed by the GOP in Congress. Now is the time to move forward with this both for the sake of everyday Detroiters and the sake of the planet.

10.Build Community Solar. Unlike many cities, Detroit has lots of open space that could be used for solar energy production. DTE, our local utility, mainly produces electricity from coal, which hurts the planet and the lungs of Detroiters. And, Michigan produces none of this coal. Another way to help Detroiters reduce their utility cost is use some of the massive amount of vacant land in the city for building community solar installations. With investment from the federal government, these could be owned by Community Development Corporations or others who could sell the solar power at cost to homeowners nearby. Investing in these small-scale production facilities would produce installer jobs for Detroiters, increase reliance on alternative sources of electricity, cut costs for citizens and make appropriate use of vacant land.

Where Did the Vote Break in Southeastern Michigan?

Republican areas saw marginally increased turnout between the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections increased. The focus of that increase was southern Macomb County and the Downriver area in Wayne County. Conversely, the traditionally Democratic areas in Wayne County experienced some of the largest voter turnout decreases. Detroit saw especially large decreases.


In Macomb County, eight of the communities experienced a voter turnout decrease between the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections. It was Chesterfield Township that experienced the largest decrease in the county at 5.35 percent while Ray Township experienced the largest increase at 2.46 percent. Although Warren and Sterling Heights have been noted for having several precincts flip from Democratic to Republican between the two Presidential elections, both cities had areas that remained Democratic in 2016. Sterling Heights experienced a 2.7 percent voter turnout decrease in 2016 and Warren experienced a 1.5 percent decrease. St. Clair Shores is another city in southern Macomb County that flipped from Democratic to Republican and here voter turnout increased by 1.6 percent.

While the changes are complicated, it appears that areas in the county to the south that shifted to the GOP are also areas where turnout declined. Likely Democrats would have benefitted by a better Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign.


In Oakland County we have highlighted how higher income communities like Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham flipped from being Republican in the 2012 presidential election to Democratic in the 2016 election. These communities though experienced a voter turnout decrease between the two elections, as did majority of the Oakland County communities that went Democratic in 2016. With the exceptions of Ferndale, Madison Heights and Clawson, all of the Democratic communities experienced a voter turnout decrease in 2016. Ferndale had the largest voter turnout increase in the county at 11.6 percent while Berkley had the largest decrease at 23.7 percent.

Republican communities in Oakland County weren’t exempt from experiencing a voter turnout decrease in 2016, however the decreases weren’t as widespread or large.


Wayne County communities experienced some of the largest decreases in voter turnout in 2016, with Inkster experiencing a 26 percent decrease, River Rouge experiencing a 23 percent decrease and Redford and Detroit experiencing 11 percent decreases, each. Again, these communities all went Democratic in the 2016 election; they also went Democratic in the 2012 election.

Throughout much of Downriver though, an area that flipped from Democratic to Republican, an increase in voter turnout occurred. In that area, Rockwood had the largest increase at 7 percent. The city of Flat Rock did flip from Democratic to Republican between the two elections, but experienced a 16.36 percent voter turnout decrease.

Hamtramck and Highland Park experienced the largest voter turnout increases in Wayne County; Hamtramck had a 12 percent increase and Highland Park had an 11 percent increase. Both cities went Democratic in the 2012 and 2016 elections.


In Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor Township had the highest voter turnout increase at 3.37 percent; this community went Democratic in both elections. The only Washtenaw County community that went Democratic in the 2016 election and experienced a voter turnout increase was Sylvan Township; it had a 0.37 percent increase. There were several Republican communities in Washtenaw County too though that experienced voter turnout increases. For example, Northfield Township experienced a 19.6 percent voter turnout decrease.


Overall, the data shows that there were very few communities in Southeastern Michigan that experienced large voter turnout increases (above 10 percent). The marginal increases though occurred in areas that went Republican in the 2016 Presidential election, particularly in northern Macomb County, St. Clair County and the Downriver area in Wayne County.

Percentage of Female City Managers in Metro-Detroit Below Average

The percentage of females who serve as city managers in Southeastern Michigan is below the national average. In Southeastern Michigan, 10 percent of the cities with city managers had those positions filled by females. According to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), a 2012 survey administered by this professional management organization found that about 20 percent of chief administrative officers in local government are females. Additionally, ICMA membership records show that 15 percent of the organization’s members in 2016 were female city managers.

In Southeastern Michigan there are 233 municipalities (not including counties or special districts), most of which are townships. Typically, the chief administrative officer in a township is the township supervisor, which is an elected position (more on this can be found in a past post). There are about 75 cities in Southeastern Michigan, but again, not all have city managers. Cities like Detroit and Warren have a strong mayor form of government, meaning the elected mayor serves as the chief administrative officer. Of the 69 cities with a council-manager form of government, only six had a female city manager, according to information found on each city’s website.

The largest city in Southeastern Michigan with a female city manager is Ferndale, which is located in southern Oakland County with a population of about 20,000. April Lynch has served as the Ferndale’s City Manager since 2011. The other cities with female city managers are: Belleville, Hamtramck, Lathrup Village, South Lyon and Rockwood.

In addition to cities and townships, villages are another form of local government in Michigan. In the map below these communities with chief administrative officers are also highlighted. Of the six villages in Southeastern Michigan with a village administrator one has a female serving in that position (not all villages have such a chief administrative officer-many villages have small populations, and the village president serves as the chief administrative officer). The village with a female administrator is the Village of Bingham Farms, which is located in Oakland County and has a population of about 1,100.


As noted in our recent elected officials post, more than 50 percent of the country’s population is made up of females, but a much smaller number of females serve in elected positions, and as this post shows, are selected to lead local government. This conversation is being raised by organizations such as ICMA and Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL). Locally though, more conversations need to take place to at least put Southeastern Michigan in line with or above the national average, so there is a more inclusive and representative pool of local government leaders.


Southeastern Michigan Revenue Sharing Declines Between 2015 and 2016

Municipalities across Michigan have experienced a decline in Revenue Sharing funds in recent years as monies have been diverted toward the State’s General Fund. Between Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 the municipalities in Southeastern Michigan experienced an average decline in revenue sharing of 0.59 percent. For Fiscal Year 2017 though, the state is expecting to increase revenue sharing monies by 1.2 percent in Southeastern Michigan, on average. The purpose of this post is to show how Revenue Sharing payments declined between 2015 and 2016 and how the capita disbursement varies between communities.

The funding map below refers to the total amount of Revenue Sharing each municipality received in 2016-this total combines both the Constitutional and Revenue Sharing Funds. For the Constitutional Revenue Sharing Payment there is a total distribution rate, which has declined over the last several years. For FY 2016 the rate was 75.694800 and in FY 2015 that rate was 76.1932l; in FY 2017 it is projected to be 76. 921299. For a municipalities’ total annual Constitutional Revenue Sharing payment to calculated, the total rate is multiplied by the 2010 population for each city, village and township, despite the fact some municipalities’ populations may have increased since then. The state determines the Constitutional Rate using 15 percent of the gross 4-percent sales-tax collections (the other 2 percent of Michigan’s gross sales-tax collections are designated for educational purposes). This means 15 percent of state sales tax revenue should be distributed to Michigan’s municipalities. Using Detroit as an example, the 2010 population was 712,552. This is multiplied by 75.698400, bringing the total Constitutional Revenue Sharing amount that Detroit was to be awarded in 2016 to $53,939,054. Detroit’s Constitutional Revenue Sharing payment for 2016 accounted for about 28 percent of the Revenue Sharing Funds it was awarded.


  • 2016 Constitutional Revenue Sharing Payment= 2010 Population x 75.6984
  • 2016 Detroit Constitutional Revenue Sharing Payment of $53,939,054= 712,552 x 75.698400

In addition to Constitutional Revenue Sharing, there is also Statutory Revenue Sharing, which for Fiscal Years 2015, 2016 and 2017 have been called CVT (City, Village and Township) Payments. For 2015 and 2016, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury, payments were based on whether or not a municipality met specific Accountability and Transparency requirements. If these requirements were, met a municipality was eligible to receive up to 78.51044 percent of their 2010 total statutory payment, or a payment equal to the population multiplied by $2.64659-whichever was greater. The formula for 2010 statutory payments was the total amount a municipality received in FY 2009 multiplied by 88.94 percent, less the FY 2010 Constitutional amount, multiplied by the FY 2010 statutory payment percentage, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

For the City of Detroit it was awarded $140,463,452 in Statutory Revenue Sharing in 2016. This number was calculated by multiplying its total 2010 Statutory Revenue Sharing payment of $178,910,540 by .7851044 (max eligible percentage of 2010 Statutory Payment). In total, Detroit’s Statutory Revenue Sharing Payment accounted for 72 percent of its total Revenue Sharing Payment.


  • 2016 Statutory Revenue Sharing Payment=2010 Statutory Revenue Sharing payment x .7851044 (max eligible percentage of 2010 Statutory Payment)
  • 2016 Detroit Statutory Payment= $178,910,540 x .7851044=$140,463,452

While Michigan’s Constitutional Revenue Sharing remains enshrined in the State’s Constitution, Statutory Revenue Sharing formulas are subject to regular legislative modification.  Constitutional Revenue Sharing rates can decrease when overall revenue declines, as it tends to during recessions, or when the population of a municipality declines. However, Constitutional Revenue Sharing payments are not subject to the changes Statutory Revenue Sharing payments experience. For example, just between 2014 and 2015 Statutory Revenue Sharing payments went from being called Economic Vitality Incentive Program Payments, where a municipality could receive up to 76.18459 percent of its 2010 Statutory Payment if it met three conditions (Accountability and Transparency, Consolidation of Services, and Employee Compensation) to City, Village and Township Revenue Sharing Payments. As noted above, the current Statutory Payment formula is based on whether or not a municipality met only Accountability and Transparency requirements. Also the percentage rate is 78.51044 percent of a communities’ 2010 total statutory payment. As noted above, there were no changes between the 2015 and 2016 Statutory Revenue Sharing formula.

As shown below, Revenue Sharing payments vary between municipalities, at least in part, due to the fact the Constitutional Revenue Sharing rates are based off of population numbers. Revenue Sharing payments for FY 2016 ranged between about $20,000 (Emmett Village in St. Clair County with a population of 323) to above $194 million (Detroit with a population of about 700,000). As the map shows, Detroit had the largest Revenue Sharing payment in the region, with Ann Arbor, Warren and Sterling Heights coming in behind Detroit for payment amounts. The more rural communities, with the lesser populations, also received lesser total Revenue Sharing payments.


As noted, the average overall Revenue Sharing decline in Southeastern Michigan between 2015 and 2016 was .59 percent. While the map below shows the overall Revenue Sharing payment change between 2015 and 2016, the contributing factor was the decrease in the Constitutional Revenue Sharing rate between 2015 and 2016; the Statutory Revenue Sharing formula remained the same. Also, one of the more notable trends demonstrated in the second map, below, is that municipalities in the region currently, or previously, deemed financially unstable experienced less of a decline in Revenue Sharing than majority of the other municipalities in the region. This is due to FY 2016 $5 million Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships Grant Program, which was created to help financially struggling municipalities move toward financial stability. As part of this program, the Michigan Legislature mandated that a single municipality should not receive more than $2 million. Cities such as Ecorse, Inkster and Highland Park were recipients of this grant, boosting the total amount of Revenue Sharing funds they were appropriated.

Inkster experienced a .38 percent decline, Ecorse experienced a .34 percent decline, and Highland Park experienced a .23 percent decline. Although Detroit was not a recipient of this grant, it experienced a .18 percent decline; the smallest in the region.


In 2016 the projected amount of Revenue Sharing Detroit was to receive was $194,402,506, as demonstrated in the first map above. This translates to $279.54 per person in the city, which is shown in the map below. That number was calculated by taking the projected 2016 Revenue Sharing dollars and dividing it by the most recent population numbers provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. The only other community in the region that received a higher per capita amount of Revenue Sharing dollars was Oxford Township in Oakland County ($383). In total, there were 27 municipalities throughout the region with a per capita Revenue Sharing amount above $100 per person.


In the our next post, we will take a deeper look as to how Revenue Sharing payments have declined over time in Southeastern Michigan. We know that payments have declined over the last several years and will be able to see some of the hardest hit communities in Southeastern Michigan.

Locals Push Ahead as Michigan Takes Steps Backward for LGBT Inclusivity

Just over a year ago love won nationwide when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. County courthouses across Michigan began issuing marriage licenses to those who wanted a legally recognized union, despite their sexual orientation and gender identity. However, even such a monumental move toward equality didn’t serve as a catalyst for the State of Michigan to make strides to secure other basic human rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. In fact, state level statutes have failed to recognize equality for the LGBT community, whereas at the local level various officials are working to ensure comprehensive civil rights policies exist in the areas they have jurisdiction over.

Currently, there are 46 Michigan cities and counties, combined, which provide some type of employment and/or housing discrimination protection to the LGBT community. Fourteen of these local government entities, including three counties, are located in Southeastern Michigan. Just in Southeastern Michigan, those 11 communities with inclusive non-discrimination policies make up 23 percent of the region’s population. The three counties with such policies-Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne-make up 64 percent of the population. But, while these efforts deserve to be applauded, many of the policies are by no means comprehensive. At the municipal level expanded civil rights policies are to be adhered to by all employers and/or housing providers. This isn’t necessarily the case at the county level though. Macomb County’s human rights policy is only extended to the county’s 2,200 current and potential employees; its contracting policy doesn’t even reflect the changes.

Both historical and recent policies, and lack thereof, at the state level have created a culture that lacks inclusion and basic human rights protections. Currently the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act (the state’s non-discrimination policy) does not include sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Attempts to amend this statewide civil rights act have occurred since 1973 (a year after East Lansing and Ann Arbor adopted their policies), the most recent being 2014. The proposed 2014 amendments aimed to add exactly what is missing, however those amendments were never approved in the legislature. This lack of action and support for basic human rights continues to leave Michigan without a blanket discrimination protection for the LGBT community and a political gesture toward inclusivity.

Although the legislature failed take action on the Elliott Larsen Act, in the summer of 2015 three Religious Freedom Adoption bills became law, allowing religious organizations to deny placement of a child in a home based on religious grounds. These bills did not have direct language against the LGBT community but it can be argued they are, at least in part, targeted at by these bills. State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine said the bills were meant to protect the public-private partnership that allows Michigan to have an 80 percent adoption rate. She said,  by making the then proposed bills law, no agency would have to choose “between their faith and helping children.” The Human Rights Campaign said these laws make it even more difficult for LGBT couples to adopt, particularly as the Michigan Catholic Conference and Bethany Christian Services make up 25-30 percent of adoptions that occur in Michigan, according to information provided by Gov. Snyder’s office to the Washington Blade (link). These laws may have protected those public-private partnerships, but they also opened up another avenue for discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Not even a year later it seems another door toward discriminatory practices could open. Proposed House Bill 5717 and Senate Bill 993, which were introduced to the Legislature a few months ago, aim to keep the use of public school restrooms restricted to those with the same biological sex; SB 993 goes as far as relying on chromosomes). Anatomy and gender are not one in the same, and while the supporters of these bills claim they are trying to protect the children, the effect is likely to be discrimination against them.

Michigan citizens do not have access to fair employment, housing and family planning options because of their sexual orientation or gender identification, and that soon may be extended to the use of the restroom. Yes, there have been concentrated attempts at the local level to broaden access to these basic human rights for over 30 years. However, some of the State’s elected leaders continue to build walls, including between children, even as local government entities and the nation tirelessly work toward acceptance and inclusivity.

Below is a timeline and a map showing the most recent years in which a Michigan municipality implemented a more comprehensive non-discrimination policy that addresses equal employment and/or housing rights based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

Items to note:

  • East Lansing was the first local government entity in the nation to enact to include sexual orientation in its civil rights protections. East Lansing expanded its original 1972 policy that provided employment protections based on sexual orientation to include housing protections in 1986 and to include gender identity in 2005. Since 2005 was the most recent policy amendment East Lansing is listed under 2005 in the timeline and on the map.
  • Ann Arbor adopted policies that provided residents employment and housing protections in 1972; in 1999 it expanded those protections to include gender identity. Ann Arbor is listed as amending its policies in 1999, not 1972, because that was the most recent change.
  • Detroit updated its initial 1979 employment and housing protections beyond sexual orientation to include gender identity in 2008. Detroit is listed as adopting comprehensive non-discrimination policies in 2008 because, again, that was the most recent year they were updated.

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Part I: Metro-Detroit’s shift toward regionalism starts with Metroparks, speeds up with economic downturn

Regionalism in Southeastern Michigan began to take shape in the 1930s, but it was not until the financial decline of Detroit and the broader region, that multi-jurisdictional authorities truly began to take over an array of services.
The oldest extant regional entity formed in Southeastern Michigan is the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority. Enabled by the Michigan State Legislature in 1939 by Public Act No. 147, the residents of Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties approved the authority the following year. In 1942, funding for the parks became available, according to the authority’s history. Since that time the authority has grown to oversee 13 metroparks, which together encompass more than 25,000 acres. The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is governed by a seven-member board; two members are appointed by the governor and the other five are appointed by the Board of Commissioners of the member counties. Currently, all of the metroparks are supported by a 0.2146 mill levy on the residents of Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties. This levy is equivalent to $10.73 for a home valued at $100,000 ($50,000 taxable value).


Southeast Michigan took an additional step toward regional cooperation more than 25 years later (1968) by establishing the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). This regional planning entity, along with other regional planning organizations in the state of Michigan, was authorized by Public Act 281 of 1945.

According to its website, SEMCOG partners with local government entities—ranging from villages to cities to counties to community colleges—to better improve the area’s waterways, transportation systems and economic vitality. In addition, according to the Clean Air Act and the Water Pollution Control Act, SEMCOG is the region’s planning agency for water and air quality. SEMCOG has also been responsible for the region’s transportation planning.

For SEMCOG, communities choose whether or not they want to be members of regional planning entity. As of the end of 2015 there were 168 different government entities that were SEMCOG members. In Macomb County, Ray Township, along with the townships of Armada, Bruce and Richmond are not SEMCOG members despite their neighbors like Washington and Macomb townships being members. In Oakland County, Pontiac is not a SEMCOG member despite it being surrounded by members.


Despite the existence of regional entities, cooperation among cities and counties in Southeastern Michigan was very limited during much of the 20th century. But Michigan’s economic downturn in the 2000s weakened some of the region’s strongest institutions as they began to face financial problems. One of the first organizations to seek public support through a regional millage was the Detroit Zoo. Once completely owned and operated by the city of Detroit, zoo operations were transferred to the Detroit Zoological Society in 2006. This decision came after the city voted to close it for financial reasons, and the Michigan Legislature promised to provide $4 million to the society for operational aid, according to a 2005 Crain’s Detroit article. Then in 2008, the Michigan Legislature approved Public Act 49, allowing counties to establish a zoological authority and contract for zoological services. The act also gives the counties the authority to levy up to 0.1 mill, with voter approval, for such services. In the same year Public Act 49 was passed (2008), the voters of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties were asked to approve a 10-year 0.1 millage, which equals to $5 a year for a home valued at $100,000 (taxable value of $50,000). All three counties approved the millages:

  • Wayne County: 73.15% yes
  • Oakland County: 74.88% yes
  • Macomb County: 66.5% yes

Each of the three counties has its own zoo authority, whose members are appointed by their county commissions or by the county executive office. In Oakland County, the board of commissioners appoints the members; in Macomb County the County Executive makes the appointment recommendation but the Board of Commissioners must confirm; and in Wayne County the executive makes the appointment. Each authority is charged with administering the funds levied from the millage to the Detroit Zoo.

The successful 2008 request for financial support was not the first time the Detroit Zoo sought public assistance through tax dollars, though. In 2000 and 2002 millages were placed on the ballot; Wayne County supported those requests and Oakland County did not, causing them to fail. Macomb County did not participate.

The 2008 millage, which was passed to support operations at the zoo, contributed to 36 percent of the organization’s operational budget in 2014, according to its 2014 financial report. The breakdown of the percentage of millage funds provided to the zoo from each county in 2014 were as follows:

  • Wayne County: 13%
  • Oakland County: 16%
  • Macomb County: 8%
  • (64% funds earned revenue and through fundraising)

Following the regional support for The Detroit Zoo another regional authority was created—this one intended to support Detroit’s Cobo Hall. In September of 2009 the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority was formed through passage of Public Act 554 in 2008, which allowed the creation of regional convention facility authorities. This regional authority was formed at a time when the North American International Auto Show threatened to abandon Cobo Hall and Southeast Michigan due to the facility’s size and aging infrastructure, according to a New York Times article. Detroit could no longer financially maintain the convention center at a level that would allow it to host such an international attraction.


When the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority was formed, so was a governing body to oversee the regional authority. The governing body is a five-member board with representatives from the City of Detroit, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and an appointee from the Governor’s Office. This body oversees the 30-year capital lease of Cobo Hall (the facility is leased from Detroit), which includes a $299 million expansion/upgrade project. The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority receives funding from revenues at Cobo Center as well as support from the state’s Convention Fund.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) authorities (one each in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb) were also created during the 2008 economic downturn to help establish a more reliable base for operations funding for the Detroit Institute of Art. Public Act 296 of 2010 gave each of the three counties the ability to levy up to $10 for a home valued at $100,000 (taxable value of $50,000), with the support of voters, to support “an encyclopedic [comprehensive] art museum whose primary art collection and facility. . . are owned by a municipality located in the state.” Similar to the Detroit Zoo authorities, each county board and/or executive appoints members to its respective authority to oversee the funds brought in through the millage.

In November of 2012 majority of Wayne County (67%), Oakland County (64%) and Macomb County (50.5%) approved the 10-year, 0.2 mill proposal that allows free general admission to residents of the tri-county area. Other benefits of the now-established regional authority include free bussing for school field-trips and senior citizen trips, along with the Inside-Out Program, which brings reproduced pieces of art to area communities.

The approval of the millage meant increased funding for the DIA, along with increased attendance. In 2014, according to the DIA’s Community Relations Report, the institute has about 300,000 total visitors from the tri-county area. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Wayne County: 141,659 = 47% of total visitors
  • Oakland County: 106,433 = 36%
  • Macomb County: 51,834 = 17%

While the DIA millage may still seem to receive the most attention, with concerns over raises and transparency, it certainly was not the end of Southeastern Michigan’s increased shift toward regionalism. Over the next two weeks we will also explore the region’s history of fragmented regional transportation and shift from the region’s reliance on Detroit for water and sewer services to a more collaborative approach.

General Law Townships predominant government structure in Southeastern Michigan

In this post we examine the types of government structures that exist in Southeastern Michigan. Throughout Michigan there are five types of municipalities including: Mayor-Council and Manager-Council (both of which are for cities), Charter Township and General Law Township, and villages. In addition to showing what type of government structures exist in Southeastern Michigan in a map below, we also detail how those different structures work and offer some reasons a community chooses one structure rather than another.

Wayne County has the largest number of municipalities with a Mayor-Council form of government, while the more rural communities on the outskirts of the region are predominantly General Law Townships. In total, there are 22 municipalities with a Mayor-Council form of government, in this form the mayor serves as the chief administrator for the city), 10 of which are located in Wayne County. It is General Law Townships though that are the most common form of government in the region, with 72 communities being organized as one of Michigan’s earliest form of governments.

Charter Townships make up 19 percent (41) of government structures in Southeastern Michigan while Council-Manager forms of government makeup 29 percent (65) of the types of government structure that exists in the region. There are 20 villages in the region.

While Wayne County has more communities that operate with a Council-Manager form of government, and the largest number of cities, General Law Townships predominate along the outer edges of the region.

The Differences

As noted, General Law Townships are the most common form of government structure in Southeastern Michigan; all townships are General Law Townships unless incorporated in a Charter Township. General Law Townships were given the option to receive a Charter Township status beginning in 1947 when the State Legislature approved the Charter Township Act. This classification, according to the Michigan Township Association, allows for a more streamlined administration.

According to the Michigan Township Association, townships (both general law and charter) can only exercise powers given to them by state law. All townships are required to collect taxes, administer their local elections and perform property assessments. They also have the option to enact and enforce ordinances, offer local fire and police protection services, and operate parks and recreation programs, among other things, according to the Michigan Township Association. Additionally, all townships are governed by a Supervisor, Clerk, Treasurer and two or four trustees.

In terms of levying millages, General Law Townships are allocated at least 1 mill from the 15/18 mills that counties, townships, public schools and intermediate school districts receive, according to the Macomb Township website. Charter Townships though do not receive this same millage allocation. Rather, if they were chartered by a referendum, they can levy up to 5 mills. But if a township was chartered by a board resolution after 1978, then the voters must vote on whether or not a proposed 5 mills can be levied. Under either circumstance, townships can also levy up to 10 mills, but this must be approved by the voters, according to the Macomb Township website.

Townships are part of Michigan’s early history and began to be created in 1790 throughout the Midwest region as a way to help govern land throughout what is now the Midwest region, according to the National Township Association. In the Midwest, according to the National Township Association, townships are typically more rural, as we saw with majority of the General Law Townships being located on the outskirts of the seven-county. Also, according to the Michigan Township Association, a Charter Township status can help prevent a township from being annexed by a neighboring city. Several weeks ago we took a look at how the city of Detroit became the size it is today through annexation. When looking at the map in this post we see that the only township touching the Detroit border is Redford Township and that is a Charter Township. Additionally, we see that throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, where the majority of the region’s cities are located, the majority of the cities border Charter Townships, as opposed to General Law Townships.


Unlike townships, cities must not only perform the same state mandated functions as townships, but they must also provide their own services, such as snow plowing, police and fire services (these services can be contracted out or shared between municipalities). According to the Michigan Municipal League, cities are given a greater amount of independence in how they regulate, in large part because of the Home Rule City Act; this allows cities to enact a charter which provides the framework for how that particular city functions.

The City of Detroit is the most recognizable example of the Strong Mayor type of city government in the region. A Strong Mayor type of government is one in which the mayor acts as the city’s top administrator, serves on a full-time basis, and has the authority to appoint and remove top officials. He or she also typically has some sort of veto power, but the council is the acting legislative body, according to the Michigan Municipal League.

In the Council-Manager form of government the council appoints a chief administrative officer, often known as the City Manager. This person is professionally trained on the day-to-day operations of a city and is often looked to for recommendations by the council regarding policy making.


In addition to townships and cities, there are also villages in the state of Michigan. Villages, which are the least common structure of government in Southeastern Michigan, also come in two forms: General Law and Home Rule. General Law villages, which are the most common, have a village president, which is an elected position, but it is the department heads who typically oversee the day-to-day administrative functions of the municipality. With a Home Rule Village, the president does not need to be elected by the citizens but can be appointed by the council; this person is often referred to as the village manager, according to the Michigan Municipal League.