Granholm calls for resource pooling

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Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm urged local governments in her State of the State address earlier this week to form new partnerships and pool resources for common services in order to get through the budget shortfalls that will continue to plague the state in fiscal 2005.

A gap of more than $1 billion "looms" in 2005, Granholm said, on top of the $3 billion gap Michigan just closed. Although state government officials will be working on the shortfalls from its perspective, "crisis begets opportunity, and opportunity now screams out loud to our local schools and governments to break the mold, not the bank," she said.

Many resources could be combined in order to share services, technology and even employees. Maxine Berman, director of special projects, will serve as the leader at the state level for this cross-organizational initiative. Her job will be "to remove barriers to collaboration, share successes, provide incentives to mergers and erode the turf mentality that costs us all too much," Granholm said.

Coordination and communication are also top priorities for the Michigan Homeland Security Team in the coming year. During the summer blackout that affected much of the Northeast and part of the Midwest, including Michigan, the state's public safety radio system was able to provide uninterrupted communications for police, fire and emergency medical personnel.

However, communications interoperability is still spotty between local and state responders, and even worse between state and local law enforcement and the federal Customs and Border Patrol officers keeping track of the Michigan/Canada border, which is one of the busiest crossing points in the United States, Granholm said. She pledged that by 2008, the communications systems would reach across all levels of government within the state.

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