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House Passes Bill That Would Prevent Renewal Of Tri-County DIA Millage

LANSING (WWJ) - The Michigan House has passed a bill that would prevent the Detroit Institute of Arts from asking the voters in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties to renew their millage to support the DIA in 2022.

Thursday's vote came just hours before the Republican-led chamber, on a bipartisan 74-36 vote, approved the so-called "Grand Bargain" —  a $195 million state payment to help prevent steep cuts in Detroit retiree pensions and the sale of art.  (More on this HERE).

Thursday's vote came ahead of a vote on the so-called "Grand Bargain" — legislation that would give Detroit a lump sum $195 million in state  tax money to help settle the city's bankruptcy.

Supporters of the bill say that the DIA is getting enough money in the Grand Bargain.

Among those who spoke out against the bill's passage was Rep. Jim Townsend, D-Royal Oak.

"It really is a fast track, unfortunately, to proportionally liquidating the assets of the Detroit Institute of Arts," said Townsend," and it's ironic that somebody decide to put a bill that would do that in a package that's designed to accomplish the very opposite."

Voters in the three counties, in 2012, overwhelmingly supported the millage proposal which provided the DIA with $23 million in operational revenue annually to keep its doors open for the next eight years — with about $11 million of that coming from Oakland. The tax works out to about $20 per year on a house worth $200,000.  Tri-county residents, in return, get free admission.

Jon Switaliski, D-Warren, calls measure passed Thursday "political retribution."

"I am flabbergasted and offended on so many levels

"The passage of this bill essentially says to the residents of these three counties: You're not intelligent enough; you're not smart enough to decide for yourself what services you wanna contract for, what entities you wanna invest in."

The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Ken Goike, of Macomb County's Ray Township, where voters largely rejected the DIA millage.

[Continuing Coverage: Detroit Bankruptcy]

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