Local Government Fiscal Health Project

Turning research into action to promote local government fiscal health

Launched in 2019, and working in partnership with the Michigan Department of Treasury and others, CLOSUP’s Local Government Fiscal Health Project aims to develop a deeper understanding of the fiscal health and fiscal challenges of local governments in Michigan, and beyond. This deeper understanding will contribute toward a proactive approach to local fiscal health in Michigan, and promote greater transparency and earlier detection of signs of fiscal stress.

The project combines insights from local officials, reported through the Michigan Public Policy Survey, with insights from various sources of local government financial and economic data 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

XBRL

An Open Data Standard for Local Government Financial Reporting: How it Could Work in Michigan

XBRL, an open data standard, can improve access and analysis of public financial data for local governments in Michigan. Key benefits of creating an XBRL program for local governments include enhanced public transparency, easier data access for local officials, and a process to verify and compare financial data between local governments.
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MPPS

Learning from local government leaders

The Local 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 Local Fiscal Health Project.
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COVID-19

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.
Read more about "Fiscal Strategy Guides"
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.
Read more about "Annual Fiscal Health Tracking"
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.
Read more about "Local Fiscal Health Project: Student Case Study Series"

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