Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • Will Michigan GOP Continue Michael Moore Film Subsidies?

    03/30/2015 1:10:46 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/29/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    In 2011, left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore sat on the advisory council for the Michigan Film Office. The office is in charge of determining what productions will receive the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been sent from state taxpayers to mostly out-of-state moviemakers since 2008. So perhaps it should not be surprising to learn that Moore himself – with a reported personal net worth of $50 million – was able to grab taxpayer money to cover some of the costs for his 2009 film “Capitalism: A Love Story” (which criticized the well-connected for taking taxpayer money). As previously reported...
  • Excise Tax Hike on Cigarettes Irrational Choice for Washington

    03/30/2015 8:33:09 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/16/2015 | Michael LaFaive
    The Washington Legislature appears again poised to go to the cigarette excise tax well. A proposal to hike the state’s excise tax by another 50 cents — to $3.52 per pack — would exacerbate an already large smuggling problem and offer little in the way of gains to public health. We have created a statistical model to measure the degree to which cigarette smuggling occurs in most American states. Through 2013, our model reported that Washington had the third-highest smuggling rate among 47 states. Our estimate shows that, of all the cigarettes consumed in Washington that year, 46.4 percent were...
  • National Study: Detroit Charters Should Serve as a Model for Other Communities

    03/30/2015 6:01:24 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/28/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Detroit schoolchildren in charter schools are getting a better education in reading and math than students in the city's conventional public schools according to a report released Wednesday by an organization described as the “nation’s foremost independent analyst of charter school effectiveness.” The authors suggest that Detroit charter schools should serve as a model for other communities. The study was performed by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), which analyzed student and school data from 2006 through 2012. It found that each year students in Detroit charter schools receive the equivalent of a few weeks to as...
  • Republican Bill Package Would Eliminate Energy Choice

    03/27/2015 5:15:33 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/23/2015 | Jack Spencer
    A legislative package sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, would bring significant changes to Michigan’s electricity market. The provision drawing the most attention repeals the only remaining piece of a 2000 reform led by then-Gov. John Engler, which ended the monopoly status of Michigan's largest electric utilities. Under that reform, known as “Energy Choice,” customers could buy their power from an alternative generator, while the power lines through which the juice flows remained a regulated monopoly. Not surprisingly, the state’s two large utilities, Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison, were not pleased, and never stopped pressuring lawmakers to...
  • Community College Secretaries Secede From the State's Largest Teachers Union

    03/26/2015 8:41:35 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/22/2015 | Anne Schieber
    After months of legal wrangling, the votes are in. Secretaries at Grand Rapids Community College have chosen to decertify the Michigan Education Association local and form their own union. Out of 95 members, 40 voted in favor of the new union, the Alliance of Professional Support Staff, while 28 voted to stay with the MEA and 3 chose no union. “We are free,” said election organizer, Penni Weniger. This is the second time in 15 months that a group of employees at a state college or university has broken ranks with the MEA. The first defection involved over 300 technology...
  • Oklahoma Shows Pension Reform Can Boost a State's Credit Rating

    03/26/2015 6:45:54 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/23/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Opponents of closing the Michigan Public School Employees' Retirement System have pitched an argument that doing so might have a negative impact on the state’s credit rating. That may seem an unlikely argument given the system's chronic underfunding — and one state's experience suggests the opponents have it exactly backwards. Persistent underfunding has contributed to an unfunded liability of nearly $26 billion in the state's school pension system. This is up from $17.6 billion as recently as 2010, despite two rounds of partial reforms (in 2010 and 2012) that did not prevent new employees from being enrolled in the current...
  • Teacher Union President In Line for Six-Figure Government Pension

    03/25/2015 10:15:01 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/24/2015 | Tom Gantert
    When the current president of the state's largest teachers union worked for the Lansing School District more than 20 year ago, his job title was “paraprofessional.” That's a position that pays between $7.69 and $16.52 an hour, according to a recent union contract. But thanks to a special deal approved by the Lansing district in 1993 and allowed by a state law, Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook could retire and collect a government pension of up to $105,000 a year. That pension would come from the underfunded school employee retirement system, which is run by the state. That's because...
  • How Union President's Pension Will Cost Taxpayers

    03/25/2015 5:17:52 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/22/2015 | James Hohman
    Although his real employer is a private organization – the Michigan Education Association – Steve Cook continues to be considered a Lansing public school employee for purposes of “spiking” his eventual payout from the state-run school pension system. The MEA is the state's largest teachers union, and Cook, its president, will eventually receive pension benefits that are based on his six-figure union salary rather than the modest pay he received years ago while employed as a classroom paraprofessional. Defenders of the deal argue that taxpayers shouldn’t be concerned because the MEA reimburses the school district for the money it contributes...
  • State on Required Payments for School Employees' Pension: 'The Check is in the Mail'

    03/24/2015 1:53:26 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/18/2015 | Tom Gantert
    For the past few years, public school administrators, officials and Democratic politicians have complained of alleged school budget “cuts.” Although spending has actually gone up, an ever-larger share of the state's education budget is being consumed by growing shortfalls in the school employee pension system. Nevertheless, only twice in the past 10 years has the state of Michigan met the "annual required contribution" that the pension system's own accountants say is needed each year to eventually close the underfunding gap, given assumptions about the future growth of its resources. Specifically, net contributions fell short by $2.2 billion from 2005 to...
  • Why Unions Care About Paid Sick Time

    03/24/2015 10:31:19 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/15/2015 | Dr. Antony Davies
    Labor unions negotiate higher wages and better benefits for union members. That’s fine – that’s their purpose and it’s why some people choose to join unions and pay union dues. The unions have to perform a delicate balancing act. If they don’t push for better wages and benefits for their members, then workers will have less of an incentive to join unions. But, as unions attain better wages and benefits for their workers, non-union labor starts to look much more attractive to employers and so employers will tend to prefer to hire non-union labor. If union labor is more productive...
  • Unions and a Complicit Media in Pro-Paid Sick Time Campaign

    03/24/2015 7:33:23 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/19/2015 | Tom Gantert
    An orchestrated campaign promoting a bill to impose a paid sick leave mandate on most Michigan employers has the fingerprints of labor unions and a pollster with direct connections to the Michigan Democratic Party and legislators, and is being aided by a complicit media whose stories play down the potentially costly consequences. One of the organizations identified by the media as part of the “statewide coalition” is Restaurant Opportunities Centers United – ROC-United-Michigan. A Michigan Radio online commenter points out a flaw in the polling question. The website claims it is a front organization for unions. The website links...
  • Paid Leave Isn't Free Leave

    03/24/2015 6:13:04 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/20/2015 | Tom Gantert
    A recent Michigan Public Radio story promoted a poll's finding that found 86 percent of Michigan voters support the concept of employees getting paid time off for illness or to provide care to a family member. The poll was done by Denno Research. The story pointed out that Democratic state lawmakers had introduced House Bill 4167 and Senate Bill 101, both of which would require employers to give paid sick leave to their employees. The paid leave would be between 40 to 72 hours annually, depending on the size of the business. But an advocate for small business owners and...
  • The 'Astroturf' Campaign to Force Employers to Give Paid Sick Time

    03/20/2015 6:27:49 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/18/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Even its own website makes unclear who runs a Grand Rapids entity calling itself “Our Kitchen Table,” but the statewide news conglomerate MLive elevated the obscure nonprofit into part of a “statewide coalition” in a story about a campaign to mandate that job providers give employees paid leave for sickness and other reasons. Our Kitchen Table has no financial or organizational paperwork on record, according to, a website that tracks forms filed with the IRS by 1.8 million nonprofit groups. The address the organization filed with the IRS is a single-family residence. Its website doesn’t list the names of...
  • $23K School Employee Upset that MEA President’s Pension Spiked by $200K Union Salary

    03/19/2015 9:00:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/12/2015 | Anne Schieber
    LaKiesha Allen is a 35-year old Lansing school secretary who pays the Michigan Education Association $38 a month in union dues from her $23,000 annual salary. Local union officials have threatened to get her fired if she stops paying those dues. So Allen was stunned to learn that MEA President Steve Cook, a man she has never met, swung a deal with her employer to parlay his six-figure union salary into a richer pension payout. Cook's payout will come from the same pension fund that Allen is counting on for her own retirement – a fund that is currently underfunded...
  • Sheriff Lieutenant Caught on Video Saying Officers Disciplined for Not Writing Enough Tickets

    03/19/2015 7:20:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 25 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/18/2015 | Anne Schieber
    It is against the law in Michigan for police agencies to impose a traffic ticket quota on officers. So when a Newaygo County sheriff’s deputy was caught on video telling county commissioners he would reprimand subordinates for not writing enough tickets to comply with a federal grant, motorists bristled. “The damage this sort of abuse does to the credibility of police officers being there to 'protect and serve' is enormous,” said Jim Walker, executive director of the National Motorists Association Foundation. “We have had 40 years of it, and it is time to stop. And the feds are a major...
  • To Ensure School Compliance with the Law, Include Financial Incentives

    03/18/2015 7:04:50 PM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/11/2015 | Audrey Spalding
    For most people who follow government, nothing is more meaningful or more dramatic than the struggle to pass a law. In this romanticized view, the passage of a law means that change was required, and that those who break the new law will be punished. In 2011, the Michigan Legislature passed a series of education reforms, designed to retain and reward Michigan’s best teachers. According to these new laws, districts would have to pay high-achieving teachers a premium, and could not make teacher hiring and firing decisions on the basis of seniority alone. For those who celebrate new laws, this...
  • Now is the Time to Demand Transparency from State's Corporate Welfare Agency

    03/18/2015 10:22:27 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/9/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Tax credits issued through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation while Jennifer Granholm was governor are beginning to scoop dollars out of state coffers by the bucketful. The total cost of businesses claiming these credits against taxes due or cashing them in has been tagged at $9.38 billion. This isn’t happening all at once, but is expected to continue into the future with significant budgetary impacts for years to come. With all that’s taking place, it is not surprising that the MEDC, Michigan’s corporate welfare arm, is now probably about as popular with many lawmakers and state officials as the measles....
  • Lessons from Twenty Years in the Freedom Movement

    03/18/2015 9:07:12 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Mackinac Center for Public Policy ^ | 3/11/2015 | Joe Lehman
    Twenty years ago I quit my perfectly good engineering job to join the save-the-world business. Two decades at anything prompts retrospection. Here are a few things I know now about public policy and the freedom movement that I did not know in January 1995. It’s better to be for people than against things. I’ll admit to blatantly taking this language from the American Enterprise Institute’s president, Arthur Brooks. The Mackinac Center and our movement in general must reorient around this idea. Good ideas are not inherently persuasive. Even brilliant ideas must be sold. Without persuasion, ideas are merely academic. Persuasion...
  • Obamacare's Michigan Tale: Small Drop in Uninsured While Families Pay More

    03/18/2015 7:22:17 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/10/2015 | Jack McHugh
    The Affordable Care Act is failing to deliver on its promises to provide health care access and affordability. While some people now have new coverage, it has come at the expense of families who lost the health care coverage and doctor that they liked, or are now without insurance because they can no longer afford it. Here are four things to know about Obamacare in Michigan: 1. Contrary to popular belief, Obamacare was never designed to dramatically expand private health care coverage; it has always been a massive Medicaid expansion scheme. In Michigan, federal figures show 303,000 residents were added...
  • More Jobs, Higher Pay Since Right-to-Work Passed in Michigan

    03/13/2015 11:08:15 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/12/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Since its right-to-work law took effect, Michigan has experienced the nation's sixth-largest growth in the number of people working, adding 141,990 jobs from March 2013 through December 2014, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. California saw the largest increase during that span, adding 603,174 jobs. On a percentage basis, Michigan employment grew 3.3 percent, ranking 15th overall in the nation. North Dakota held the top spot, growing its workforce by 5.4 percent. Michigan had 4,294,532 jobs in March of 2013, a number that increased to 4,436,522 in December of 2014. The data on jobs comes from the monthly...
  • Right to Work Isn't the Only Option

    03/13/2015 9:17:28 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/8/2015 | Vinnie Vernuccio
    Even with Michigan’s right-to-work law, workers do not have full freedom. In bringing true fairness to both unions and workers, Michigan has the power to give public workers a complete choice when it comes to associating with a union, while at the same time lifting government unions’ burden of representing nonmembers. In Michigan, unlike non-right-to-work states, workers do not need to pay a union to keep their jobs. However, in both types of states, employees in a unionized job must accept union representation whether they want it or not. But right-to-work isn’t the only option available for bringing real fairness...
  • Mackinac Center Files Brief with U.S. Supreme Court to End Union Agency Fees

    03/13/2015 7:19:16 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Mackinac Center for Public Policy ^ | 3/13/2015 | Anne Schieber
    The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that could extend virtual “right-to-work” status to government employees in every state. Under such a ruling, those workers would no longer be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, brought by teachers in a forced unionism state who object to so-called “agency fees” that workers must pay to the union even if they elect not to be a “member.” First, however, the justices must decide whether to place...
  • How Wind Energy Creates More Dependence on Fossil Fuels

    03/13/2015 6:31:29 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/12/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Truth has a habit of emerging from unexpected places. An article in the Daily Kos about the desire to end dependence on fossil fuels for energy needs reveals a “nasty little secret” about wind energy: It relies on fossil fuels. That’s a message wind energy opponents in Michigan have been trying to get across to the news media and the public over the past few years. The article is part of a series titled “Getting to Zero,” by Keith Pickering, and is written with the premise that global warming is a dire and immediate threat. It states, “If civilization is...
  • Plot to Kill Film Credits Begins to Look Plausible

    03/12/2015 10:08:46 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 15 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/10/2015 | Jack Spencer
    It now appears that, for the sort of reasons that often count most – political reasons – there is a realistic chance that Michigan’s film subsidy program will end soon. When a bill to put a stop to the subsidies was introduced on Jan. 29, skepticism about its prospects seemed justified. Little more than a month earlier, the Legislature had overwhelmingly passed a measure to keep the program rolling, and Gov. Rick Snyder signed it into law. The idea that the Legislature and governor would reverse course just weeks later seemed far-fetched. But much has changed in the brief period...
  • 'If It's Not Illegal, It Should Be'

    03/12/2015 8:49:04 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/9/2015 | Tom Gantert
    State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, was on the Senate floor Thursday when he learned of a “sweetheart” deal between the Lansing School District and the president of the state’s largest teachers union. The district has for several years allowed Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook to be considered a “school employee.” This lets Cook remain a member of the public school pension system, despite the fact that he actually works full time for a private organization. Moreover, Cook is accruing pension benefits based on his $201,613 union salary, setting him up for a much higher post-retirement payout from the...
  • The 'Too Many School Districts' Myth

    03/12/2015 6:32:15 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/9/2015 | Audrey Spalding
    There are too many school districts, according to state officials. Even though student enrollment is declining, more school districts open every year, these officials say, putting existing districts under financial pressure. Though this may seem like a school finance and administrative issue, the “too many school districts” narrative is often used to criticize charter schools. Juxtaposing Michigan’s decreasing enrollment with the rising number of school districts (entirely driven by charter schools) is just a way to complain about the fact that more charter schools are opening. Charter schools in Michigan are legally defined as “districts,” even though most are single...
  • Union President Inflating Public Pension with $200K Salary While Working for Private Union

    03/11/2015 8:27:09 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/10/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Steve Cook, the president of the state's largest teachers union, is also listed as the highest-paid employee of the Lansing School District. His annual salary is $20,000 more than that of the district’s superintendent. The deal between the Lansing School District and the Michigan Education Association allows Cook to remain a member of the state’s pension system for school employees while working full-time as president of the private union. This lets him accrue pension benefits based on his $201,613 MEA salary, setting Cook up for a much higher post-retirement payout from the underfunded public school employees pension system. The Lansing...
  • The Facts on Electricity Choice

    03/11/2015 6:30:40 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/9/2015 | Ted Bolema
    Electricity choice in Michigan is under attack again this year. The two big utility companies are investing heavily in an advertising campaign and contract research. Ultimately, they’d like to eliminate market competition and force all consumers to buy only their electricity. The facts are, however, that electricity choice in Michigan has a track record of driving down rates, and electricity consumers will be worse off if the state enlarged the utilities’ monopoly. Michigan first authorized a choice program with Public Act 141 of 2000. At the time, Michigan’s electricity rates were higher than the national average and higher than any...
  • CBS 'Battle Creek' Show Misses City's Real Police Drama

    03/11/2015 6:09:41 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 38 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/8/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Hollywood's storyline of an underfunded Battle Creek police department is fiction. The reality? One Battle Creek police officer made $100,000-plus in 2014 and the city is paying $2.5 million more to the police and fire pension plan than it did nine years ago. In the fictional CBS TV show “Battle Creek” that debuts March 1, police detectives complain about being underfunded. It’s so bad, they say, that their Tasers don’t work because the department can't afford to recharge the batteries. That’s Hollywood. In real life, if Tasers go uncharged it probably has more to do with a police and fire...
  • State's Corporate Welfare Agency Tone Deaf to Requests for Transparency

    03/10/2015 9:50:57 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/5/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Making transparency a condition for receiving selective state subsidies and tax breaks is apparently a foreign concept at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which is the state’s corporate welfare arm. At a Feb. 18 meeting of the House Tax Policy Committee, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy recommended that, to provide much-needed transparency at the MEDC, companies accepting tax credits be required to waive a right to privacy related to these transactions. At the conclusion of the hearing, the MEDC's chief executive, Steve Arwood, was asked this question: “Considering the amounts of money at stake, is it likely that a...
  • House Republicans Announce Criminal Justice Reforms

    03/10/2015 7:23:55 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/3/2015 | Mike Reitz
    Members of the Michigan House of Representatives today announced efforts to reform the state’s criminal laws. The efforts will be spearheaded by a working group, co-chaired by Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township, and Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth. The group will identify antiquated or unnecessary criminal statutes that can be repealed, and will recommend penalties that fit the severity of the crime. A package of bills introduced would repeal numerous outdated laws. The announced reforms are part of the House Republican Action Plan. A 2014 study published by the Mackinac Center and the Manhattan Institute found that Michigan has more...
  • Michigan May Send Film Credits to the Cutting Room Floor

    03/06/2015 7:40:29 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/5/2015 | Tom Gantert
    House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, is calling for $12 million to be restored to the $50 million originally appropriated for film production subsidies in the current year. The money was cut by an executive order signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. The news site MIRS reported that Greimel’s spokeswoman Katie Carey said the film credit program “has been a good job creator for the state.” “I think if you did an investigation of all the tax credits, you'd find that with the film credits, that's one of the areas that has been a big boon for the state of...
  • The Real Problem With ‘Economic Development’ Programs

    03/05/2015 9:40:43 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/4/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    From 1995 to 2011, Michigan ran a program that granted special tax exemptions to chosen companies. The research on this program – the Michigan Economic Growth Authority – has been pretty consistent: It was a failure. The Mackinac Center did two studies on MEGA; a 2005 study showed that the few jobs “created” from the program were temporary and expensive and a 2009 study found that it had an overall negative impact on Michigan’s economy. The Michigan Office of the Auditor General has found repeated problems with state “economic development” programs over-promising and under-delivering. The Anderson Economic Group found a...
  • State Feeling the Heat for Corporate Welfare Deals Coming Home to Roost

    03/04/2015 11:23:36 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/27/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Corporate welfare is causing major budgetary woes for the state of Michigan. The sum of refunds from unspecified tax credits handed out in the past is estimated to exceed $9 billion in the years to come. The credits were given through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) as incentives for businesses to create or retain jobs. Meanwhile, the agency continues to operate amidst complaints from lawmakers, reporters and others about its lack of transparency. An objective means of determining the benefits of the credits, as measured in the number of jobs produced or retained, has not been forthcoming, and the...
  • 2014 Was a Great Year for Adding Jobs in Michigan

    03/04/2015 6:50:34 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/1/2015 | Tom Gantert
    When it comes to the number of new jobs created in Michigan, 2014 was the best in 20 years. The number of unemployed people dropped by 71,000, or 17.2 percent, from 2013 to 2014. Total employment rose by 98,000, or 2.3 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does two monthly unemployment surveys. The Current Population Survey (CPS) is known as the “household survey” and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey is known as the “payroll survey,” because it surveys businesses. University of Michigan economist Don Grimes says the “payroll survey” has been shortchanging Michigan of jobs in its initial reports,...
  • Governor Praises Detroit School Ranked Among the Worst in the State

    03/03/2015 6:31:31 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/1/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Gov. Rick Snyder highlighted Davison Elementary/Middle School as “one of the most outstanding schools in Detroit” during his State-of-the-State speech. However, based on the state’s own Top-to-Bottom rankings, that Detroit public school is in the worst 8 percent of all schools in the state. Yet, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy gave Davison Elementary/Middle School an “A” on its report card. Why the discrepancy? The Mackinac Center factors in a school’s socioeconomic status when it evaluates academic success, while the Michigan Department of Education does not. Davison Elementary/Middle School had 93 percent of its 684 students eligible for free and...
  • Right-to-Work Debate: Former Labor Boss and Think Tank Labor Expert Square Off

    03/03/2015 5:37:27 AM PST · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/25/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Former Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney and Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, squared off Tuesday, Feb. 10, in a debate over Michigan’s right-to-work law. “Those who are behind it want to see unions weakened,” Gaffney asserted. “Right-to-work comes from the rise of the political right in this country and the conservative movement becoming more active.” “If that’s so, than why have we seen unions actually growing in some right-to-work states?” Vernuccio responded. The debate was sponsored by the Michigan Labor and Employment Relations Association. An audience of approximately 50 attended the event,...
  • Charter School Growth in Michigan is Not the 'Wild, Wild West'

    03/02/2015 9:49:01 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/27/2015 | Jack Spencer
    When in 2011 the Legislature voted to repeal a cap on charter public schools, Democrats warned that “allowing an unlimited number” of “for-profit” charter schools would put students at risk. Four years later, a new report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools finds that while Michigan has the fifth most charter school students in the country at 159,000, growth in the number of schools has been steady. California leads the nation with 547,800 charter school students. Nationwide, there are an estimated 2.89 million students enrolled in charter schools. The report states that Michigan added 10 new charter schools...
  • Closing School Retirement System the Right Choice

    03/02/2015 7:21:41 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 23 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/28/2015 | James Hohman
    Michigan House Republicans recently released a reform agenda that calls for closing the state-run school employee retirement system to new employees. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, reiterated the proposal. The necessity of closing the current defined-benefit pension system and instead offering new employees a defined-contribution plan is simple: the state underfunds pensions. According to the legislative auditor general, the system has been underfunded in all but one of the past 30 years. The system carries a $25.8 billion unfunded liability. Michigan taxpayers are now on the hook for 13 times more in unfunded school pension liabilities than the...
  • Double Tax on Some Fuels is Problematic for $2 Billion Michigan Sales Hike

    02/24/2015 9:44:12 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/24/2015 | Jack Spencer
    The ballot proposal that goes before Michigan voters on May 5 includes a “double tax” on fuel purchased for uses other than driving on roads, including for boats, snowmobiles, off-road vehicles and possibly agriculture. Some Lansing insiders have known about the problematic wording for weeks, and while few will talk about it on the record, it has attracted much attention among those in the know. “It’s right there; all you have to do is be able to read,” a well-placed source said under the condition of anonymity. Officially dubbed Proposal 2015-1, the ballot measure is the road funding deal Gov....
  • Time to Uncork Beer and Wine Reforms

    02/24/2015 8:52:14 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/22/2015 | Michael LaFaive
    The Office of Regulatory Reinvention granted permission to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to open a review of alcohol control rules. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy weighed in on two (beer and wine) of them today. The Mackinac Center has long had an interest in the state’s beer and wine rules because they, among other things, raise the cost of beer and wine in the state while enriching a handful of crony capitalists. One study indicates that these rules may raise the cost of beer and wine by 6.4 percent to 30 percent, depending on the price. The rules...
  • Media Muddles Magnitude of May Tax Hike Vote

    02/24/2015 5:33:16 AM PST · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/23/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Approximately two billion dollars. That's how much additional taxes will be collected if voters approve a May 5 ballot proposal, according to a Mackinac Center for Public Policy analysis based on figures projected by Michigan's legislative fiscal agencies. The bottom-line figure has not been widely reported in the media. In fact, most readers would be hard-pressed to find it in newspapers or in press releases put out by politicians who favor the tax hike measure. For example, Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued a press release that stated: “Last year, the Legislature approved a bipartisan package projected to generate $1.2 billion...
  • How to Deal with Michigan’s Vast Criminal Code

    02/23/2015 6:45:27 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/20/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    LANSING – Michigan's criminal code, say experts, is vast, outdated and growing, and putting citizens at risk of committing at least a crime a day. That was the message of the participants in a panel discussion on “overcriminalization.” The event featured Michael Reitz, executive vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy; Miriam Aukerman, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan; and James Copland, the director of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy. Reitz and Copland are co-authors of a recent study on crime in Michigan. The report, “Overcriminalizing the Wolverine State” notes: Michigan’s penal code contains...
  • How Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Law Raises Costs

    02/19/2015 11:39:44 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/16/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    In rural Dickinson County, located in the Upper Peninsula on the Michigan-Wisconsin border, the cost of living is low and the median household income is about $44,000. Steve Zurcher, the owner of St. George Glass & Window located in Iron Mountain, pays his glaziers about $20 per hour. That’s the market wage for qualified glass-installers in the area. But the State of Michigan doesn’t care about market or privately-negotiated wages. Because of the state’s “prevailing wage” law, any glazier in Dickinson County who works on a taxpayer-funded construction project is mandated to be paid $43.53 per hour. Prevailing wage laws...
  • Michigan’s $2 Billion Tax Proposal

    02/18/2015 9:46:06 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/15/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    Michigan residents on May 5 will vote on a constitutional amendment and a package of bills that will go into effect if approved. The proposal will increase the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, raise taxes on fuel, and increase vehicle registration taxes. It will also hike the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. Overall, the proposal will increase state tax revenue for fiscal year 2015-2016 by approximately $2 billion, of which $1.3 billion will go to funding transportation — initially to accelerate repayment of existing transportation bond debt, to increase overall road maintenance, and to spend more on...
  • Court of Claims Tosses Union's Right-to-Work Lawsuit

    02/16/2015 1:49:53 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/15/2015 | Tom Gantert
    The Michigan Court of Claims dismissed a lawsuit by the Michigan Education Association that claimed the State Legislature violated the Open Meetings Act when they passed the right-to-work law in 2012 while the Capitol building had been closed for a time due to protesters. Judge Deborah A. Servitto made the ruling Friday. The judge’s ruling stated: “The temporary cessation of admission to the Capitol building did not impair the rights of the public as a whole. The public and the media were present in spite of the closure and were able to observe directly and through media coverage.” The ruling...
  • What the New Legislature Should Stand For – and What It Should Not

    02/16/2015 10:05:35 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/15/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    For the first decade of the 21st century, the Michigan Legislature’s policy direction was to increase the power of government at the expense of citizens. The results were predictable to those who understand incentives and how economies really work. From 2001-2010, compensation costs for the average state employee increased tremendously, while incomes plummeted for the taxpayers who pay those bills. When state revenues stagnated, the Legislature took more from individuals and small businesses through higher income and business taxes, and increased excise taxes on goods like tobacco. Rather than enact real business-climate reforms that encourage investment and entrepreneurship, legislators turned...
  • Union Drops Attempt to Stop Vote on Decertification

    02/16/2015 5:58:53 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/14/2015 | Anne Schieber
    The Michigan Education Association has dropped an unfair labor practices complaint against Grand Rapids Community College, and also dropped its request for suspension of an election to “decertify” a union local which represents college secretaries. The decertification vote was authorized when one-third of the nearly 100 members of the Grand Rapids Community College Education Support Professionals signed a petition requesting it. The MEA filed its complaint and request a few weeks later. Supporters of the election say time was of the essence because the local bargaining unit’s contract expires June 30 and contract negotiations are set to begin April 1....
  • Teacher Claims Union Ruined Her Credit, Humiliated Her Over Trying to Leave

    02/13/2015 1:42:00 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/12/2015 | Tom Gantert
    A Harper Creek Community Schools special education teacher says her credit has “suffered irreparable” damage and her local union has attempted to humiliate her. The reason, she says, is that she refused to turn over personal banking information that would let the union automatically deduct her dues. Terri MacKenzie made her claims in a lawsuit she filed against the Michigan Education Association, the National Education Association and the Harper Creek Education Association in Calhoun County district court. Her trial is set for later this month. The dispute dates back to September 2012 when the MEA was implementing its e-dues automatic...
  • Energy Policy Director: Wind Energy isn't Cheap and Alone Can't Meet Our Needs

    02/13/2015 11:02:32 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 2/5/2015 | Jack Spencer
    According to Steve Transeth, senior policy director for the Michigan Jobs & Energy Coalition, the general public has some “major” misconceptions about wind energy – particularly about its costs and adequacy. “It sounds good,” Transeth said at a meeting held by the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition (IICC) on Jan. 20. “We think it’s cheap, it’s green, it’s the answer to all the things we’re trying to achieve. It really is none of those things." “I think in 20 years we’ll look back and think, ’What kind of experiment was that?’” Transeth continued. “We left wind a couple of hundred years...