Michigan’s handling of the contaminated water system in Flint calls attention to the role of a state government when one of its cities faces difficult financial and operating challenges.
Ranging from monitoring local government finances to offering technical advice to taking over day-to-day operations, laws in 20 states allow intervention. Many of these laws have been put in place over the past 25 years, though some date back as far as the Great Depression.
When a law permits a temporary state takeover—as Michigan’s does—local officials often resist, arguing that the state action infringes on their right to govern themselves. State officials, however, typically say they intervene because the city has failed to stabilize its finances on its own…..