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Detroit Institute’s Good-News Day: Governor, Key Legislators Endorse Art-Rescue Funds (with video)

    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, flanked by House Speaker Jase Bolger (l) and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (r)     Screenshot from press conference webcast

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, flanked by House Speaker Jase Bolger (l) and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (r)
Screenshot from press conference webcast

More good news today for the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Here’s the museum’s reaction to this afternoon’s expected announcement by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (joined by the state’s House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader—all Republicans) of a plan to provide up to $350 million over 20 years to protect the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts from monetization and to support the city’s pensioners:

Governor Snyder’s announcement is continued good news for the City of Detroit, its pensioners and the DIA. Support from the Governor and legislative leadership, the foundation community and our supporters underscores the importance of the DIA in building a strong, healthy city and state. We are working hard to play an active and thoughtful role in this ongoing process that will allow for a significant contribution to this effort and ensure long-term support for the City’s pension funds and sustainability for the DIA.

While there has been a great deal of speculation as to the DIA’s participation in this effort, the DIA remains focused on continuing conversations with the mediation team, state, county and city officials, our board members, staff and supporters to determine how we can be as productive and supportive as possible in this process, with the ultimate goal of a balanced, achievable solution that provides for strong DIA involvement in this emerging plan and ensures the museum’s ability to meet its immediate budget commitments and long-term endowment needs.

Emphasizing that “this is settlement, not a bailout,” Snyder noted that the proposal (intended to complement Grand Bargain, towards which private benefactors have thus far pledged seom $330 million) “will not make retirees whole” and it would only be forthcoming as part of a far-reaching agreement among “the city, state, unions, employees and retirees….This is an opportunity to really resolve things…more effectively, faster and better.”

If a mere $350 million from the state over 20 years is all it takes to effectuate an end to the expected prolonged legal slugfest over Detroit’s bankruptcy, that would be a beautiful thing. But testimony during today’s Bankruptcy Court hearing suggests that the city’s creditors may not fold their tents so readily.

Judge Steven Rhodes made his own 10-minute pitch today for a settlement, saying at today’s hearing that “the reason he required the Retiree Committee members to attend this afternoon’s hearing was to urge them to negotiate,” in the words of Nathan Bomey‘s live blog of today’s hearing for the Detroit Free Press.

As Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press reported, the Governor’s plan “requires approval of the Legislature” and both House Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville acknowledged at the press conference that “it may not be an easy sell.”

Still, there have been two giant steps in the right direction today. It may be that all sides will recognize that it’s in everyone’s best interest for the stakeholders to put Detroit’s long municipal nightmare behind them.

May the city’s revival begin!

For those craving more, below is the video of the Governor’s press conference. (Things don’t actually get started until 4:00 into the clip.)

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