WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following calls from U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced it will halt a proposed change that would increase the population threshold for metropolitan areas from 50,000 to 100,000. Communities in Michigan and across the United States count on this designation for federal funding that goes towards important programs. If implemented, the change could have threatened access to vital federal resources for nearly 150 communities across the country, including six in Michigan. The Michigan communities that could have been affected by this change include Battle Creek, Bay City, Jackson, Midland, Monroe, and Niles-Benton Harbor. Peters previously warned OMB that this proposal should be withdrawn and studied further in order to prevent possible negative effects to communities in Michigan and across the nation.
“Communities of all sizes across Michigan and the United States are counting on federal resources to recover from the ongoing unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” said Senator Peters. “I’m grateful to Acting Director Young and others at OMB for working with me and rejecting this potentially harmful proposal. I’ll continue my efforts to ensure Michigan’s communities and their residents are not left vulnerable at a time when support from the federal government is so important.”
Metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were created to standardize and identify the nation’s largest centers of population and activity. While MSA designations are intended to be used for statistical purposes, some federal funds for housing, infrastructure and other programs are allocated based on this status, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Programs. While losing MSA status may not necessarily result in a loss of federal funds, the uncertainty is concerning and warrants careful consideration of unintended consequences of the proposed redefinition.
In addition to previously warning OMB of the possible negative effects of this proposal, Peters also introduced bipartisan legislation – with broad support from Michigan elected officials and stakeholders – that would block the proposed change to help protect Michigan communities from the possible consequences of increasing the population threshold for metropolitan areas from 50,000 to 100,000.