The state takeover of Detroit is a nice reminder that there is no 10th amendment for cities and counties. As Michael O’Hare points out, states made the national government, but cities and counties did not make the states. Despite the efforts of the new nullification advocates to confuse people about this, municipalities derive their power from state governments, not the other way around. Local governments are at the mercy of what state laws say they can and cannot do.
The upshot of this is that when we see a bunch of older Cities of the Third Class all facing the same problems, and failing in exactly the same predictable ways, we can surmise that the problem has less to do with poor decision-making by local level politicians, and more to do with bad state laws governing municipal finance.
And the response to the observation that state municipal finance laws routinely cause older core Cities of the Third Class to fail in uniform predictable ways should be that we need to fix the municipal finance laws at the state level, where the problem originates. The problem with Act 47 is that it treats the symptoms at the city level, instead of treating the disease at the state level. The state has the authority to dissolve municipal governments and create large County tax bases for education and public safety services. But instead they’ve stood by while tax base fragmentation cannibalizes older cities, and pretended that the predictable problems Cities of the Third Class are facing are comeuppance for bad individual choices, rather than systemic problems caused by bad state laws.