Six Key Initiatives From Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s State of the City

etroit Mayor Mike Duggan delivered his second State of the City address at Second Ebenezer Church on Detroit's east side. His focus for the speech was growing the city, and what Detroit has been and plans to do to increase growth.

Duggan was interrupted four times during his speech by young demonstrators who shouted about things like solutions for the poor, mass incarceration and chanting phrases like "All power to the people" and "Black lives matter."

Here's a rundown of some of Duggan's major points made during the State of the City address.

BUDGET

The city of Detroit finished the 2015 fiscal year with a balanced budget, which Duggan says is a first since 2002. The city is also set to finish fiscal year 2016 with a balanced budget. However, Duggan said there was still a $491 million deficit in the city's pension fund, which the city must begin paying on in 2024. At this point, Duggan says, it is "not yet a crisis, but it is a problem." He directed blame on the forthcoming debt to the city's former emergency manager Kevyn Orr, saying that during bankruptcy Orr's team made the wrong assumptions about the city's pension fund.

But, Duggan added, "We are not asking anyone for a bailout."

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POLICE AND CRIME

Duggan introduced the new Fugitive Apprehension Unit, a nine-officer squad that works solely to track down and arrest those with outstanding gun warrants in the city of Detroit. The unit will use street-camera technology that will read license plates and alert nearby officers that the driver has outstanding gun warrants. Duggan also says they will also use facial recognition technology, matching these criminals to a database of photos accumulated from mug shots, Facebook and other sources.

Earlier this year, city leaders unveiled a partnership between the Detroit Police Department and participating local businesses, such as gas stations and party stores, to provide DPD's Real Time Crime Center with live, high-definition video feed from the participating locations.

BLIGHT AND NEIGHBORHOODS

Detroit knocked down 4,000 blighted structures in a single year, a figure that motivated Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and other leaders to obtain $2 billion of funding for blight removal across the country.

Duggan also spoke about how the recently announced Detroit Home Mortgage program will help bring property values up in the neighborhoods, by helping people obtain adequate mortgages for houses in Detroit, which was difficult and sometimes impossible. Duggan says sixty neighborhoods in Detroit have grown their property values.

Scrapping continues to plague Detroit’s neighborhoods. Duggan told attendees that Detroit Police will now respond to 911 calls about scrappers and will arrest the suspected scrappers — not just ticket them. This is an extension to initiatives announced Duggan's 2014 address, in which he announced a crackdown on scrap yards in the city accepting materials from scrappers. Arrests prevent scrappers from taking materials to scrap yards in neighboring cities.

JOBS

Duggan said that employment is up in the city, citing 8,000 more residents with jobs than two years ago, and also discussed the new and upcoming job options in the city — including the need for carpenters and other talent for the new hockey arena being built downtown.

He also touched on the need for summer jobs for Detroit's youth. Last year, his team was able to get thousands of teens summer jobs, leading to much higher interest for this year. This summer, Duggan hopes to secure more summer job opportunities for Detroit's youth.

CAR INSURANCE

Detroit has the highest car insurance rates in Wayne County. Michigan being a no-fault insurance state, Duggan says, is partly to blame.

"No fault is no choice," Duggan said during his speech. "Either you pay the highest car insurance in the country, or you drive illegally."

Duggan campaigned on a proposal for more affordable car insurance alternative called D-Insurance.

SCHOOLS

Duggan concluded with discussion revolving around Detroit's schools. Eighty percent of DPS schools have opened or closed under emergency management. This is Detroit Public School's seventh year of emergency management, and every year the district has run a deficit.

"The deficit that has been run up is the state’s responsibility," Duggan said.

He talked about their recently announced timeline to get DPS buildings in better shape, and Duggan said he will be in Lansing, pushing every day for DPS to have an elected school board.

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