The Court of Appeals, in a recent decision, significantly improved our ability to identify violations of the Headlee Amendment; which, among other things, prohibits the State from increasing the burdens it places on local units of government (including school districts) without corresponding increases in funding. Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government v State of Michigan, Case No. 334663 (July 30, 2019). The Court of Appeals addressed several subjects, including the State’s failure to comply with statutes intended to implement the Headlee Amendment.
The statutes in question include a provision requiring an annual report identifying the funds necessary for local units of government (including school districts) to meet all relevant requirements for the year in question. MCL 21.235(3). The statutes also require a detailed breakdown supporting the report’s conclusions. MCL 21.241. The Court characterized these statutes as a “legislatively-mandated duty that the State, through its officers and departments, collect, report and place on the public record certain information regarding the State’s compliance with the Headlee Amendment.” Noting the State had breached this clear and unambiguous duty, the Court entered a writ of mandamus compelling future compliance. The state’s compliance with the Court’s order will undoubtedly make for interesting, albeit difficult, reading.