Michigan Governor To Push Plan To Protect Detroit Art, Pensions: Court
(Reuters) – Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is set to announce â€œsignificant state participationâ€ in a plan to aid Detroitâ€™s art museum and public pensions, mediators said Wednesday, as the city works through its historic bankruptcy.
The move by the stateâ€™s Republican governor comes after plans for state involvement first were reported in local media last week. At the time, Michigan House of Representatives Speaker Jase Bolger, a Republican, indicated he would not support state participation in any direct bailout of Detroit.
Snyderâ€™s spokeswoman, Sara Wurfel, confirmed the governor and Republican legislative leaders will hold a press conference concerning Detroit later on Wednesday.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court mediatorsâ€™ statement said the governor intends to work with the state legislature to gain support for the plan.
â€œWe hope that the governorâ€™s announcement will further assist the parties in reaching as many agreements as possible which can be included in an agreed-upon plan of adjustment,â€ the mediators said in the statement.
Last week, a group of foundations said they pledged more than $330 million to help preserve the Detroit Institute of Artsâ€™ collection and assist in shoring up the cash-strapped cityâ€™s retirement fund.
With Detroit sinking under more than $18 billion of debt and liabilities, its state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr filed the biggest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history in July.
Orr has opened the door to possibly monetizing some of the artwork, while severely cutting pension benefits. Detroitâ€™s biggest creditors are its pension funds and Orr has pegged the cityâ€™s unfunded pension liability at $3.5 billion.
Last month, auction house Christieâ€™s, which was hired by the city, appraised the value of Detroit-owned works at $454 million to $867 million. Later on Wednesday, U.S. Judge Steven Rhodes, who is overseeing Detroitâ€™s bankruptcy, plans to rule on whether the art should be independently valued.