News

Following Foundations’ Lead, Michigan Governor Offers Money for Detroit

by Jillian Steinhauer on January 16, 2014

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (photo by Michigan Municipal League, via Flickr)

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (photo via Michigan Municipal League on Flickr)

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is proposing that the state contribute $350 million to help protect the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) collection and Detroit’s pension funds during the settlement of the city’s bankruptcy, the Detroit News has reported. This comes on the heels of an announcement earlier in the week that nine foundations pledged a combined $330 million for the same cause.

The move is a welcome surprise from the Republican governor, who had previously expressed only cautious support for the embattled DIA while its collection was being targeted by Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr. Paid out over 20 years, the $350 million would come from a fund “not directly tied to annual appropriations so the money would not have to be approved on an annual basis and would not come from the general fund,” according to the Detroit Free Press. There is discussion of drawing on the state’s tobacco settlement fund — money that Michigan receives annually (~$250 million) from a 1998 settlement with tobacco manufacturers.

Interestingly, the Detroit News notes that Snyder was “cool” to the idea of a state contribution until the foundation announcement was made on Monday. The appropriation of money for his proposed matching plan would need legislative approval.

Meanwhile, individual donations from people looking to support Detroit however they can have apparently been streaming in from around the world. CBS Detroit reported that the court began receiving phone calls after Monday’s news broke from people who wanted to give, and the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan — one of the nine organizations making the $330 million pledge — set up a website to receive these donations, which are mostly small. Miriam Noland, president of the Community Foundation, told CBS:

“The fact that individuals are coming forward around the country, I guess it did and it didn’t surprise me. … I can understand individuals in Detroit and Michigan, but it’s interesting that it’s captured the interest of people around the country; and it may be because the question of selling art got such national visibility.”

According to its webpage, contributions to the Fund to Support Detroit’s Retirees, Cultural Heritage, and Revitalization will be used “to support the pensions of retirees of the City of Detroit and thereby the financial health and revitalization of the City of Detroit by being used to acquire the art work and other properties of the Detroit Institute of Arts.”

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