Fiscal Health Project

Turning research into action to promote government fiscal health

CLOSUP launched its Fiscal Health Project in 2019 to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges that local governments face in collecting, using, and interpreting fiscal data, and to promote greater transparency and earlier detection of fiscal stress. Fiscal health is critical because it underlies the ability of local governments to provide public services—from economic development to public safety, social welfare, clean water, and more.

CLOSUP’s holistic approach combines local officials’ insights and responses to its annual Michigan Public Policy Survey regarding fiscal health, along with administrative data collected by the state and its local jurisdictions to explore research questions such as:

  • How do local officials assess their fiscal health, and how are their assessments related to various aspects of fiscal health, including budget balancing, service delivery, infrastructure, and retiree pensions/healthcare?
  • How do local officials’ assessments compare to measures of fiscal health derived from financial and economic data? To the extent that they disagree, what accounts for the difference?
  • Are there systematic differences between governments that report higher levels of stress versus lower levels of stress?
City hall

New Reports

Fiscal health in rural communities

Two case studies examine the fiscal health of Ogemaw County, and Pine River Township, two mostly rural communities, using data from the local governments' audited financial reports.
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Learning from local government leaders

The Fiscal Health Project was born out of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), which has been tracking important aspects of Michigan local fiscal health since 2009, including revenues, expenses, employee and retiree policies, debt, economic conditions, and more. This research led CLOSUP to commit to address the wide variety of significant fiscal health challenges faced by Michigan local governments, through the Fiscal Health Project.
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Fiscal Strategy Guides

During the COVID-19 crisis, CLOSUP partnered with public finance experts from universities, consulting firms, and research institutions from around the state to produce fiscal strategy guides and memos for Michigan's local governments.
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Michigan Public Policy Survey

Annual Fiscal Health Tracking

The Michigan Public Policy Survey produces annual reports on Michigan local government leaders’ assessments of their jurisdictions’ fiscal conditions and the actions they plan to take in the coming year given their financial situations.
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Case studies

Local Fiscal Health Project: Student Case Study Series

Case studies conducted by student policy analysts at CLOSUP, comparing fiscal conditions and experiences of Michigan communities.
See all case studies

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