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Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • Use Extra Community College Money to Lower the Income Tax

    03/15/2017 9:09:44 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/13/2017 | James Hohman
    House Republicans have faced some unfair opposition to their plan to lower the state income tax, with assertions that the state budget can’t afford it. Yet the amount of state spending from state-levied taxes has grown $5.8 billion over the past six years. Budget officials expect that the state’s revenue will keep expanding. There’s more than enough money to let people keep another 0.35 percent of their income — the amount of the latest tax-cut plan — if state spending simply kept steady. Still, it’s important to review what value taxpayers are getting in return for the state’s tremendous budget...
  • University of Michigan Refuses to Disclose Its President's Politicking

    03/15/2017 6:13:13 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/12/2017 | Derek Draplin
    The University of Michigan is withholding some emails its president sent regarding President Donald Trump, claiming their content is protected under the Freedom of Information Act. The university, which took 106 days to respond to the open records request, claimed the content in those emails were “preliminary and advisory in nature.” The Mackinac Center for Public Policy announced last Thursday that it is suing the university over a monthslong delay in completing its request for public information. Though the university deposited a good-faith check from the Mackinac Center on Dec. 21, 2016, the Center didn’t receive the information until March...
  • One State May Do Away With Taxpayer-Funded Tourism Promotion

    03/14/2017 1:03:54 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/12/2017 | Michael LaFaive
    One state may be getting wise to the fact that government-funded tourism promotion is a bad bet for taxpayers and do away with two state agencies tasked with economic development and tourism promotion. Recently, Florida House’s Careers and Competition subcommittee voted in favor of a bill that would end Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. Those government entities are similar to the Pure Michigan advertising campaign and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, respectively. Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Michael LaFaive, who co-authored a study last year examining the efficacy of state-funded tourism promotion, told the Naples Daily News that Florida doesn’t...
  • Detroit Redefines 'Annual' To Take Much Bigger Income Tax Bite From Pro Athletes

    03/14/2017 9:41:11 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/13/2017 | Tom Gantert
    The city of Detroit will get a tax collection boost once the Pistons basketball team relocates to a new downtown arena. The boost will come not from the arena, but from a city income tax levy on professional athletes that reaches far more deeply into their wallets than other non-residents who work part-time in the city. The city has created its own formula for defining the days supposedly covered by the salaries earned by professional football, baseball and hockey players. The definitions have the effect of greatly increasing the tax bite on players who don’t live in Detroit. Basketball moves...
  • Repressive Speech Codes At Michigan Community Colleges Model PC Universities

    03/14/2017 5:46:44 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/13/2017 | Derek Draplin
    Macomb Community College enforces a speech code that would warrant a “yellow light” rating for being unreasonably restrictive of students' free expression rights in the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s “Spotlight” database of schools. MCC escaped the label only because FIRE, the civil liberties organization that litigates for campus First Amendment rights nationally, only includes four-year institutions in its database. But when Michigan Capitol Confidential asked the organization about the speech codes of several Michigan community colleges, it decided to take a look. FIRE’s “Spotlight” database ranks how four-year institutions treat students’ rights to free speech and expression. Schools...
  • Most of These Republicans Ran On Low Taxes; But All Voted to Keep Them High

    03/13/2017 12:32:29 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/9/2017 | Jarrett Skorup
    All House Democrats except one joined 12 Republicans to defeat a bill that would have slightly lowered Michigan’s income tax rate. A review of their campaign record shows that most of the GOP members ran on a record of lower taxes and a smaller state government. In 2007, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democrats in the Michigan Legislature — with the help of a few Republicans — pushed through an 11.5 percent income tax hike in the early hours of the morning on a deadline. At the time, the state was running a projected budget deficit and the tax hike was...
  • Pushing Back Against Government Takings

    03/13/2017 11:13:37 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/3/2017 | Jarrett Skorup
    While Michigan strongly protects people from eminent domain, there are still cases where governments violate the private property rights of citizens. A bill introduced in the House would provide remedies when the state goes too far. While the practice of government taking private property for “public use” has been allowed since the founding of America, public entities started to expand their definition of the term toward the end of the 20th century. After the Kelo case, where a town took a woman's home to give to a private business for "economic development," citizens across the nation pushed back by passing...
  • 'Gag Order' Put University On List of Anti-Free Speech Campuses

    03/13/2017 7:50:21 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/8/2017 | Derek Draplin
    Northern Michigan University has been named to a list of American colleges that were most unfriendly to students’ First Amendment rights last year. The list, compiled by Greg Lukianoff, president of the civil liberties group known as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is titled “The 10 Worst Colleges For Free Speech: 2017.” In September 2016, FIRE sent a letter to NMU asking the university to rescind a policy that prohibited students from discussing self-harm with other students. The civil liberties organization said the policy amounted to an unconstitutional gag order. “NMU had a long-standing practice of prohibiting students...
  • Real Class Credit for Taking 'Fake News' Course at University of Michigan

    03/13/2017 5:11:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/12/2017 | Derek Draplin
    The University of Michigan announced last week a course designed to teach students to fight back against so-called fake news. The course, titled “Fake News, Lies, and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction,” will be taught in fall 2017 as a project of U-M's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and the U-M Library. The term “fake news” has appeared as a fluid label since the presidential election by both left-leaning media outlets and President Donald Trump. “The University of Michigan Library, which has a long record of improving the way students go about finding, evaluating and using...
  • People First or Well Connected Developers?

    03/10/2017 9:27:17 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/10/2017 | Michael LaFaive
    The Michigan Senate has advanced legislation that amounts to handing taxpayer cash over to well-connected developers. According to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency, the bills would transfer up to $1.8 billion from regular taxpayers to these special interests over the next 20 years. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, a state House committee has advanced legislation to deliver some income tax relief to regular Michigan families. The bill would roll back a “temporary” tax hike imposed by Democrats in 2007 and made permanent by Republicans in 2012. That tax hike has extracted at least $6.3 billion from families...
  • Time for Labor Unions to Collect their Own Dues

    03/10/2017 6:27:17 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/10/2017 | Michael Reitz
    Pam Harris, an Illinois mom who made history as the lead plaintiff in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, has a simple message for President Donald Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price. “End the dues skim once and for all.” Harris, who receives a modest monthly Medicaid stipend to care for her disabled son Josh at home, faced an attempt by the Service Employees International Union in 2009 to unionize private caregivers like her. While she was able to beat back the Big Labor’s campaign to turn homes into union workplaces and then win right-to-work privileges...
  • Liberal Group Says Income Tax Cut Means Cops and Firefighters May Not Show Up

    03/09/2017 10:10:05 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 18 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/9/2017 | Tom Gantert
    Gilda Jacobs, a former Democratic lawmaker and current president of the Michigan League for Public Policy, implied in testimony last week that a minor reduction in the state income tax rate would threaten basic community services like police and fire departments. “People are worried whether or not a police car or a fire department is going to show up if they have an emergency at their home,” Jacobs told the House Tax Policy Committee. “Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen when we have tax cuts like this because as we point out, this money has to come from someplace.”...
  • These 20 Republicans Voted 'Yes' On Giving $1.8 Billion To Big Developers

    03/09/2017 6:11:09 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/9/2017 | Tom Gantert
    Around the same time a Republican majority in the Michigan House failed to pass a 0.2 percent income tax cut, all but six Republicans in the Michigan Senate voted to give $1.8 billion taxpayer dollars to a handful of developers over the next 20 years. There were 20 Republicans and seven Democrats who voted “yes.” No Democrats opposed the handouts, but six did not vote, along with one Republican who did not vote. Six Republicans voted ‘no’: Pat Colbeck (Canton), Judy Emmons (Sheridan), Joe Hune (Fowlerville), Phil Pavlov (St. Clair Township), Tori Rocca (Sterling Heights) and Tonya Schuitmaker (Lawton). Here’s...
  • State Pension Funds Move To Risky Investments

    03/08/2017 1:55:53 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/3/2017 | James Hohman
    The state’s pension fund lost $10 million by investing in a private development deal in Ann Arbor. A diversified pension system ought to make room for some risky investments, but system investors have doubled down on chasing high returns. explains what happened: The Michigan Department of Treasury confirmed this week the State of Michigan Retirement Systems lost about half its original $20 million investment in the failed Broadway Village project with the recent sale of the property to a new development team that is planning an entirely new project now. About a decade ago, the SMRS, which manages pensions...
  • Close Failing Public Schools? Not In Michigan

    03/07/2017 1:26:32 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/4/2017 | Tom Gantert
    A publication called Bridge Magazine, produced by The Center for Michigan, recently posted this headline: “Michigan shuts down bad schools. Leading states build them up.” Except, the state of Michigan has never shut down a conventional public school for poor academic progress. In contrast, while the media and school choice critics routinely accuse Michigan’s charter schools of being under-regulated and insufficiently accountable, when these schools failed to make the grade, some have been closed. Since the first charters opened here in the early 1990s, 106 have closed their doors. Poor academic performance was listed as a reason in 27 of...
  • Windmills Tall as Skyscrapers Proposed for Rural Michigan County

    03/07/2017 8:01:30 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 45 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/3/2017 | Tom Gantert
    A corporation called Apex Clean Energy has proposed building as many as 60 wind turbines in Shiawassee County — some up to 600 feet tall. That is about 20 percent higher than the tallest wind turbines currently in Michigan, which are 494 feet tall. It’s also just about the same height as The Guardian building, which is listed at 495 feet tall, in downtown Detroit. The expansion of wind farms into many Michigan communities is being driven by a mandate in the state’s utility regulation law.
  • Detroit Public Schools Goes Big For Teacher Merit Pay

    03/07/2017 6:49:26 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/2/2017 | Tom Gantert
    While many Michigan school districts have scoffed at merit pay for teachers, the urban school district with the worst academic performance in the nation has taken it seriously. The Detroit public school district has instituted a merit pay system that makes the vast majority of teachers eligible to earn awards, sometimes as much as $5,000. Out of 2,729 Detroit schoolteachers, 96 received awards of $1,000 in 2015-16, according to data from a Freedom of Information Act request. Michigan Capitol Confidential is reviewing the merit pay systems of the largest school districts in the state. Then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a law...
  • Congress May Protect Private Pensions from State Bureaucrats

    03/06/2017 12:35:39 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/1/2017 | Vincent Vernuccio
    If you think states mismanage the pensions of their own employees, just wait until they get their hands on the retirement savings of private sector workers. Thankfully, Congress may undo an Obama-era regulation that could have removed safeguards for private pensions and forced some employers into government-run retirement accounts. Two Republican members of the U.S. House, Tim Walberg of Michigan and Francis Rooney of Florida, have introduced bills to kill the idea through the seldom-used Congressional Review Act. Walberg chairs the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions. The regulation, published August 2016 and amended in December, allows states...
  • State Pays More as Community College Tuition Rises, Enrollment Falls

    03/06/2017 10:09:07 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/2/2017 | Tom Gantert
    State funding for community colleges in Michigan has increased by over $112 million since Gov. Rick Snyder took office in 2011. Despite this fact, tuition has increased 19 percent and the number of students, as expressed on a full-time basis, is down 19 percent. The state government has increased its appropriations for Michigan’s 28 community colleges by 39 percent during the governor’s tenure, starting at $284 million in fiscal year 2011-12 and going up to $396 million in 2016-17. Mike Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association, attributed the increase to inflation. “As the governor pointed out, inflation is...
  • The Cost of High Cigarette Taxes

    03/06/2017 8:47:02 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/2/2017 | Michael LaFaive
    Cigarette tax increases are often justified on the belief that they will force people to quit smoking, but new research from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Tax Foundation suggests that many smokers aren’t kicking the habit. Instead, they are turning to the black market for cheaper smokes. “Excessive tax rates on cigarettes approach de facto prohibition in some states, inducing black and gray market movement of tobacco products into high-tax states from low-tax states or foreign sources,” Tax Foundation economists Scott Drenkard and Joseph Henchman told the Washington Examiner. Drenkard co-authored the new study — Cigarette Taxes...