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Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • Democratic Candidate Jobs Plan Pricetag: $3.7 Billion

    10/24/2014 11:17:04 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/23/2014 | Tom Gantert
    At a time when state spending has reached a record high, proposals in a "Jobs Blueprint” posted on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer’s website would increase it by about $3.7 billion, according to an analysis by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The extra money would go to public schools, universities, community colleges, film subsidies, state revenue sharing payments to local governments, higher unemployment benefits, universal pre-school programs and more. Schauer offers few details on how he would pay for the increases beyond non-specific suggestions like “cut wasteful spending to save taxpayer dollars,” "review state contracts" and “make government more...
  • Union, District Force Non-Union Teacher to Pay for Union Release Time

    10/24/2014 6:18:39 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/23/2014 | Anne Schieber
    Brighton teacher Adam Neuman went to Afghanistan to fight for freedom. Now he simply wants to exercise it back home. As a combat veteran who served in the Kandahar Province for nearly a year, the civics teacher regards attacks on his liberty as a personal affront. So, when the teachers union and his employer told him they were taking money from his paycheck to pay for a teacher to leave the classroom to work on union business, Neuman felt he had no choice but to sue. In August, Neuman quit the Michigan Education Association and its local affiliate, the Brighton...
  • Failing to Counter the Big Lie

    10/22/2014 9:40:06 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/20/2014 | Jack Spencer
    It is difficult to decide which is the more infuriating – those who persist in advancing a lie or those who stubbornly ignore the possible means of combating it. The State of Michigan is spending more state tax dollars on K-12 education than the $6,844 per pupil it was spending the final budget year of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration. At the beginning of this year it was spending $7,545 per pupil. Beginning Oct. 1, that amount was increased again by $50 to $175 per pupil, with the lowest funded school districts receiving the largest boosts. As students of propaganda...
  • During the 'Lost Decade,' Michigan Shed More Jobs Than U.S. as a Whole

    10/21/2014 5:28:57 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/20/2014 | Tom Gantert
    When the Great Recession hit the U.S. in December of 2007, state economies buckled. But in the four years preceding it Michigan was the only state to lose jobs overall. The state lost 148,100 jobs from 2003 through 2007 while the U.S. added 7.6 million jobs. Over the entire decade, from 2000 to 2009, the state lost 805,900 jobs, or 1 in every 6 – a 17.2 percent reduction in employment. The next closest state to bleed that many jobs was Ohio, which lost 9.9 percent of its jobs in those years. Nationwide, the U.S. began the decade with modest...
  • School Districts Manipulate Constitutional Tax Limits for More Money

    10/20/2014 6:16:34 PM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/18/2014 | Anne Schieber
    By law, Michigan school districts are allowed to impose a maximum of 18 mills for operating expenses. So when current school millage authorizations are due to expire, how is it that some districts can ask for more? St. Joseph Pubic Schools this year asked for and received a 19.6292 operating millage authorization. Voters in Adrian approved 18.2517 mills. Coldwater Public Schools got approval for 19.234 mills. “You are correct. We can legally only levy the 18 mills,” said Ben Engelter, former chief financial officer for Coldwater Public Schools, but he explained the higher rate is for “possible reductions.” “Possible reductions”...
  • Appointments: A Rarely Recognized Gubernatorial Power

    10/20/2014 1:36:55 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/16/2014 | Jack Spencer
    There is generally little recognition of how many appointments to boards, commissions and other governmental bodies a governor has authority to make, or how many members of such bodies a governor could remove. Some of these boards and panels are trifling, while others wield considerable power. Gov. Rick Snyder exercised his authority over the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3) – the dummy employer used for the forced unionization of Michigan’s home-based caregivers – when he replaced all of its members on the eve of the 2012 election. This was the action that finally led to the end of the...
  • Union Says Photo IDs not Necessary to Vote — Unless You Vote to Leave Union

    10/20/2014 11:45:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/19/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In recent arguments against states requiring voters to show a photo ID, the United Auto Workers Local 6000 has compared concerns about voter fraud to belief in the fictional Loch Ness monster and Yeti. The union wrote on its Facebook page that requiring a photo ID for voting is the goal of the “billionaire funded” American Legislative Exchange Council, and is intended to create obstacles for voters who might support a more “progressive” agenda. When its own members, however, want to exercise their freedoms under the new right-to-work law in Michigan to opt out of paying union dues as a...
  • Photo-Cop Camera Advocates Shift To Speeding

    10/20/2014 6:38:47 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 12 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/17/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Legislators have come back again with a second attempt in two years to authorize automated traffic enforcement cameras on Michigan's streets and roads. Under Senate Bill 1063, photographs taken by the cameras would be used to identify vehicles that have allegedly exceeded the speed limit. Owners of the vehicles would then be cited for violations and, unless they fought the charges, have to pay fines. According to the MichiganVotes.org description of the bill, "Local governments could contract out the operation of the cameras, and keep 56 percent of the fine revenue." The companies that produce and operate the camera systems...
  • Moratorium or Mortuary? School Choice Proponents Claim Bill Would Kill Charters

    10/17/2014 8:04:18 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/16/2014 | Jack Spencer
    House Democrats have introduced legislation as a measure to place a moratorium on any new charter public schools opening in Michigan. However, the pro-school choice Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) reads the bill differently. According to GLEP Executive Director Gary Naeyaert, as drafted, House Bill 5852 would eventually spell doom for all of the charter public schools in the state. “What we have uncovered is that the legislation they claim would just push the pause button on increasing the number of charter schools would, in reality, close every charter school in the state over time,” Naeyaert told Capitol Confidential. “Language...
  • Gubernatorial Campaign Should be About Things That Matter

    10/17/2014 5:26:17 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/16/2014 | James Hohman
    The 2014 Michigan gubernatorial election should be a referendum on the major changes to Michigan made by Governor Rick Snyder’s administration. Unfortunately, the debate is saturated instead with false claims of education cuts. Snyder’s opponent, former congressman Mark Schauer, centered his campaign around the allegation that Snyder “cut $1 billion from the schools.” Most school revenue in Michigan is channeled through the state. So the annual budget is closely followed. Overall spending on education is up over Snyder’s term. From the fiscal year 2011 budget — the last budget passed prior to the Snyder administration — to the fiscal 2015...
  • Union Leader Celebrates Failing School’s Performance

    10/15/2014 1:52:27 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/15/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Flint Northwestern High School’s academic performance is not the type most would want to celebrate. The school has consistently been among the worst performing in the state. Yet in a recent visit, the leader of the National Education Association told union members at the school that Northwestern "did it right." NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia stopped at Flint Northwestern as part of statewide tour on Sept. 24 to celebrate it being moved off a Michigan Department of Education "priority schools list." The state applies this label to the lowest performing 5 percent of schools, which makes them subject to increased...
  • More Michigan Cities Meeting Financial Needs

    10/14/2014 6:04:42 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/11/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    A new survey of communities from the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan shows an uptick in the percent that say they are better able to meet their fiscal needs. This is good as it generally tracks with an improving state economy, but there are some warning signs ahead. The survey notes, “For the first time in six years, more Michigan communities report that they are better able to meet their fiscal needs this year than those who say they are less able to do so.” (See chart nearby.) Local government property tax revenue...
  • Michigan Finally Reverses the Number of People Leaving

    10/13/2014 2:01:44 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    From 1996 to 2011, Michigan saw more people leaving the state than coming in, according to Atlas Van Lines, a moving company that tracks migration across the country. The last two-thirds of this period corresponded with an especially bleak time for Michigan’s economy. Migration of personal incomes (map via Tax Foundation). By comparison, Atlas records for Ohio show more people moving into that state than out for 14 consecutive years, from 2000 to 2013. And Indiana only had one year from 1994 to 2013 when it didn’t have more people arriving than departing. Michigan’s 16-year negative migration trend ended in...
  • Lansing Politicians Want a Poet Laureate!

    10/13/2014 11:01:06 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/11/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    Maybe it’s something in the water. In recent weeks Lansing politicians have proposed laws mandating an official poem for Michigan and forcing taxpayers to buy a state flag for the survivors of current or former legislators when they die. Now comes yet another piece of institutional grandiosity: a bill to create an official state poet laureate. Never mind pension underfunding and damaged roads, to name two issues crying out for legislative solutions; members of our full-time Legislature seem to have both the time and the sense of entitlement to designate an official state poet. Alas, given the usual political incentives,...
  • Michigan's 'Lost Decade' Was Historic

    10/13/2014 8:36:31 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/11/2014 | Tom Gantert
    From 2000 to 2009, the income of Michigan residents plummeted to a degree experienced in only a handful of states since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Per-capita personal income in the state fell from 18th highest in the U.S. in 2000 to 38th place in 2009; this relative decline was the fourth largest for any state during a nine-year period going back to 1929. Michigan residents' earnings didn’t just drop compared to other states. When factoring in inflation and measured in constant 2013 dollars, per capita income was less in 2009 ($37,102) than in 2000 ($40,605), a decline of...
  • Challenging the Rhetoric in the War on Charter Schools

    10/13/2014 7:36:17 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/9/2014 | Jack Spencer
    House Democrats want to place a moratorium on opening any new charter public schools in Michigan. They have introduced House Bill 5852 to do so. Legislation such as this bill, offered by the minority party in the House amid election campaigning, has little chance of moving and isn’t likely to even get a hearing. But from a larger perspective, the call for a moratorium on new charters is seen by some as part of an overall war on charter public schools. This “war” is backed by a coalition of interests, most notably teachers unions, and involves attacks on various fronts,...
  • Libertarian Think Tank Grades Gov. Snyder Low for Tax Hike Intentions

    10/10/2014 8:25:10 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/9/2014 | Tom Gantert
    A free-market think tank has given Gov. Rick Snyder a “D” grade for his performance in office the last two years, ranking him in a two-way tie as the lowest-rated Republican governor in the country. The Cato Institute’s 2014 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors had Snyder tied for 35th place with Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich with a score of 44. But an author of the report said Gov. Snyder was hurt the most for his plan to increase gas taxes, something that never was enacted. “The gas tax is what really hurt him,” Cato Institute Budget Analyst...
  • All Four Teachers in New Dem Ad Claiming School Cuts are in Districts Receiving More Money

    10/10/2014 6:24:17 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 24 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/8/2014 | Tom Gantert
    A new Mark Schauer for governor political advertisement features four teachers from four different school districts who claim that Gov. Rick Snyder has cut funding to their districts. But in fact, on a per-student basis, all four districts actually received more taxpayer money in 2013-14 than they did in 2010-2011, which was the last budget approved by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The ad features seven teachers but only four specifically cite lower funding. For months Schauer, who is the Democratic candidate for the state’s top office, has claimed that Gov. Snyder cut funding to public schools. This claim has been refuted...
  • State Legislators Take Care of Themselves - Even from the grave

    10/09/2014 10:08:49 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/6/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    Members of the political class here and elsewhere have a reputation for always taking care of their own. Chasers of public office may wax eloquent about their selfless “public service,” but the truth is that no one checks their self-interest at the doors of the Capitol. Elected officials maximize their own interests in a number of ways: pay, prestige, perquisites and more. Under term limits, perhaps the highest priority of the political careerists who populate the Legislature is paving the way for their next elected or appointed job when they are termed-out of their current one. Toward this end, they...
  • Challenging the Rhetoric in the War on Charter Public Schools

    10/09/2014 7:10:54 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/7/2014 | Jack Spencer
    On Sept. 18, House Democrats announced legislation that would place a moratorium on opening any additional charter public schools in Michigan. While House Bill 5852 isn’t expected to move in the waning days of this session, the press conference announcing it gave the lawmakers who support the moratorium a chance to make their case. The opportunity to directly respond to such rhetoric seldom occurs. At the press conference however, Capitol Confidential was able to ask questions. The following is one of those questions and the response to it, followed by a rebuttal to that response by Michael Van Beek, director...
  • Without Fracking, Oil Prices Would be at Record Highs

    10/08/2014 7:31:41 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/8/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Crude oil would cost at least a record-setting $150-a-barrel today if not for increased oil production in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. EIA chief Adam Sieminski made the comment in a recent interview with Reuters. Sieminski was appointed by President Barack Obama as EIA Administrator in 2012. “What the EIA Administrator is telling us is without fracking in the United States we’d be paying well over $4-a-gallon for gasoline and our economy would truly be in the tank,” said Daniel Kish, senior vice president of policy at the Institute for Energy Research, a non-profit research...
  • UAW Dues Hike was Unnecessary

    10/08/2014 1:23:34 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/6/2014 | Vinnie Vernuccio
    At the United Auto Workers’ 36th Constitutional Convention in June, delegates voted to hike the membership dues rate for the first time since 1967. The 25 percent increase is expected to bring in an extra $45 million annually. The UAW claims that this money is needed to bolster its “Strike and Defense Fund” in preparation for 2015 contract negotiations including with Detroit’s Big Three automakers. This dues hike, however, may be unnecessary and won’t be fully used for funding strikes. At the same convention, delegates also voted to allow their leadership to siphon $60 million from the strike fund over...
  • Progressives Want to Silence, not Debate, Opponents

    10/08/2014 11:36:36 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/6/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Rather than participate in the national discussion involving the market place of ideas, some on the “progressive” side of the debate want to silence — or in one extreme case imprison — those who disagree with them. Consider the tactics and goals progressives have said they are using to win their arguments: Environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr. actually said in an interview that he wished there was a law to imprison those who don’t believe in global warming. “So, if RFK Jr. wants to jail everyone who disagrees with him — that the sustainability and livability of the earth is...
  • A Democrat's Reasons For Supporting School Choice

    10/08/2014 10:27:21 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/6/2014 | Jack Spencer
    When Michigan House Democrats held a press conference last week to announce legislation to put a moratorium on the creation of new charter public schools, the Great Lakes Education Project researched which Democrats had signed on as co-sponsors. Gary Naeyaert, executive director of GLEP, said his initial findings were that 47 of the 50 House Democrats had done so. That highlights the issue GLEP has as a non-partisan organization that endorses political candidates but finds one party overwhelmingly voting against its most important issue — school choice. In the upcoming general election, GLEP has endorsed 58 candidates, only one of...
  • FOIA Reform Legislation Languishes in Senate

    10/08/2014 7:52:43 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/4/2014 | Jack Spencer
    A measure aimed at assuring that government entities can’t use artificially inflated costs to stifle the public’s ability to obtain information is buried in a Senate committee. It is believed that if House Bill 4001 were to be voted on by the full Senate, it would stand a good chance of passing, but with only a few session days remaining in 2014, time is running out. HB4001 would prohibit public bodies from charging excessive fees for Freedom of Information Act request materials. After being passed by the House with an overwhelming 102-8 vote on March 20, the bill was assigned...
  • City Looks to License Cats For Acting Like Cats

    10/08/2014 6:31:02 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 18 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/8/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    MLive reports that Ann Arbor officials would like to see residents get licenses for their cats. Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said cats are killing birds and “doing their business” in gardens. ForTheRecord: In sum, the city wants to impose more licensing and costs on residents in order to deal with animal acts of nature.
  • Manufacturing Rebound Puts Michigan Back in the Ballgame

    10/07/2014 10:32:19 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/3/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Manufacturing in Michigan has made a comeback. Following a decade of slumps and dips, the increase in manufacturing jobs in the state is outpacing the nation as a whole and in terms of the actual number of manufacturing jobs the state is poised to surpass Illinois. “Michigan lost a lot of manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2009,” said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “But since then there has been a robust increase in manufacturing employment. This is true in comparison to both the United States as a whole and Illinois in...
  • Senate Approves 'Talk Like a Pirate' Resolution

    10/07/2014 5:49:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 18 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/5/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    For the second year in a row, the Michigan Senate has approved a resolution supporting Sept. 19 as “International Talk Like a Pirate Day.” Fiscal Policy Director Michael LaFaive wrote about this very issue last year, noting that such meaningless resolutions are the best evidence yet that Michigan should have a part-time Legislature. These resolutions hold no force of law, but sometimes such unnecessary and silly measures do propose ensconcing real-live laws in the state's statute books. For example, in March Sens. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, and Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, (among others) introduced a bill that would mandate that...
  • Union Bullying Members is Shedding Them: Over 500 People Leave Operating Engineers

    10/03/2014 6:21:20 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/1/2014 | Tom Gantert
    An official from a Michigan union that bullied members who opted out under the state's right-to-work law by printing their names in its online newsletter is now saying they have had to abandon local public school bargaining units for lack of support. In its winter 2013 newsletter, Operating Engineers Local 324 used the derogatory term “freeloaders” to identify 19 members who had opted out of the union under the right-to-work law. At that time, Business Manager Doug Stockwell said the union had “weathered the storm” with right-to-work. Michigan Capitol Confidential broke that story and it went on to receive national...
  • Michigan Taxpayers Giving $35 Million to Billion Dollar Studio

    10/01/2014 10:12:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/1/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Julie Hinds, a reporter for Gannett Michigan, suggests why she thinks the latest Batman movie was filmed in Detroit, saying the despair and hope of the city offer a juxtaposition for the filmmakers: “Those two sides of Detroit may be one of the factors that make it an appropriate location for ‘Batman v. Superman,’ a cinematic collision between two very different superheros (sic),” Hinds wrote. “Affleck's brooding, mortal Batman and Henry Cavill's outer-space immigrant Superman.” For the Record says: It was either that, or something else Hinds failed to even mention in her story — the Superman-Batman movie was handed...
  • Detroit 'Neglecting' its Students - At $14K Per Pupil

    10/01/2014 7:23:28 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 19 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 10/1/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Detroit Free Press Columnist Rochelle Riley laments “Oh, if only the children of Detroit were pieces of art” in a column in which she claims no leaders want to talk about education in Detroit. The column implies that as the city goes through bankruptcy, the school system is not getting the proper amount of attention. For the Record says: The state of Michigan is devoting about $440 more per-pupil in state funds to Detroit Public Schools in 2013-14 compared to five years ago. In 2013-14, the state poured $378.5 million into DPS, or about $7,802 per student. In 2008-09, that...
  • Celebrating 40 Years of Amtrak Deficits (Subsidized by You)

    10/01/2014 6:03:05 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/30/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    MLive reported Sept. 30 that Amtrak’s Blue Water line from Port Huron to Chicago was offering a ticket deal to celebrate 40 years. MLive reported: "You'll need to act fast for the ticket deal, which kicks in when a customer purchases one ticket — that allows them to purchase a companion ticket for 40 percent off." For the Record says: Only in the subsidized world of public transit can a company celebrate an anniversary with deals despite years of being in the red. The Blue Water line lost $3.2 million in 2012, $2.3 million in 2013, and as of July...
  • Democrats Call for Moratorium on New Charter Public Schools

    09/30/2014 1:58:45 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/28/2014 | Jack Spencer
    House Democrats on Thursday announced legislation to place a moratorium on opening any new charter public schools in Michigan. The gist of House Bill 5852 appears to be the equivalent of creating a new cap on charter schools. Introduction of legislation by the minority party in the House during an election campaign is often viewed as a political statement, not a serious legislative effort. The fact that the press conference calling attention to the measure was held in the office of House Democratic leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, reinforces this interpretation. “It’s clear that introducing major legislation with only 18...
  • Parents Speak Out on Effort to Halt School Choice

    09/30/2014 10:57:49 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/29/2014 | Anne Schieber
    When several state lawmakers spoke Sept. 18th in support of a moratorium on new charter public schools, they seemed to be overlooking what is going on in their districts. Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods, described choice as a myth. “Does that parent have the means to actually transport that child to another school, if they even have a working, functional car? Is there a bus system that exists? There are so many areas in which the choice is really Hobson’s choice. It’s a choice of theory but it really doesn’t exist,” Rep. Lipton said. Rep. Cogen Lipton and Rep....
  • Top Art Officials Receive Huge Raises While Running Deficit, Raking in Taxpayer Money

    09/30/2014 8:10:54 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/28/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Soon after voters approved a three-county $230 million millage for the Detroit Institute of Arts, its top two officers received increases of $58,415 and $98,564 in compensation. Graham Beal, director of the DIA, saw his total compensation increase from $455,453 in 2012 to $513,868 in 2013, a 12.8 percent increase. In two years, Beal’s total compensation has increased 20 percent from $426,699 in 2011 to the $513,868. Annmarie Erickson, executive vice president of the DIA, saw her total compensation jump 36.3 percent as it increased from $270,802 in 2012 to $369,366 in 2013. Erickson was recently given an additional title...
  • Feeling Fine About the End of the World - Book review of Kevin Williamson's latest effort

    09/30/2014 7:08:16 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/27/2014 | Bruce Edward Walker
    [A review of “The End Is Near, and It’s Going To Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure” by Kevin Williamson; Broadside Books, 2013, $27.99 hardcover/$15.99 eBook; 198 pp.] Back in the days of classic British humor, a comic impersonating an unctuous variety host proclaimed: “Ladies and gentlemen, Petula Clark sings!” To which another comic responds sotto voce, “Yes, we know that.” I was reminded of this bit while reading Kevin Williamson’s “The End Is Near, and It’s Going To Be Awesome.” Those familiar with Williamson’s prodigious output neither will be surprised by the...
  • Environmental Group Praises Michigan For Press Releases About 'Green Jobs'

    09/29/2014 11:57:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/28/2014 | Tom Gantert
    While job creation can be a badge of honor for many politicians, a report praising Michigan for adding "green jobs" is a bit premature. Environmental Entrepreneurs, which describes itself as "a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity," released a recent report that stated, “Michigan ranks third in clean energy and clean transportation jobs announced in second quarter.” The news made the rounds on social media and the announcement was re-Tweeted by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The report, however, is not based on actual jobs created. It’s based on jobs “announced” by...
  • Michigan Supreme Court Justice Suggests Legislature Clarify Criminal Intent Statutes

    09/29/2014 8:54:35 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/24/2014 | Anne Schieber
    Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman wants state lawmakers to clarify statutes that criminalize administrative offenses. Offenders are often surprised when they are charged with a “strict liability public welfare offense” because it is not obvious the act is a crime. Michigan has a number of such statutes on the books, such as driving a snowmobile that is too loud or modifying private property that a regulator may view as a protected wetland. The acts are often misdemeanors punishable by a fine, but if convicted the offenders have a criminal record, impeding their ability to find a job or get...
  • 10 Facts About Pension Systems in Michigan

    09/26/2014 1:30:08 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/21/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    The late Illinois politician Everett Dirksen once said, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money." Though that was in the 1960s, a billion dollars is still “real money” today. But it is one of those numbers thrown around so much in the political realm that it is hard for people to grasp. It is difficult to avoid numbers when talking about underfunded pension systems, but here are some illustrations that will hopefully help readers grasp the enormity of the problem in Michigan. 1. The school retirement system (MPSERS) is underfunded $25.8 billion – the highest...
  • Liberal Economist: 'Mostly White' Citizens Deserves the Blame For Detroit's Problems

    09/26/2014 10:24:31 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 63 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/24/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In a recent Detroit Free Press op-ed, University of California-Berkeley Professor Robert Reich places the blame for the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy on the “mostly white” residents of Oakland County. “But Detroit is really a model for how wealthier and whiter Americans escape the costs of public goods they would otherwise share with poorer and darker Americans,” Reich wrote. “ … But one thing is for certain: A very large and prosperous group close by won’t sacrifice a cent — the mostly white citizens of neighboring Oakland County.” The reaction of one Oakland County official was that Reich, a former...
  • Grasping At Taxes to Pay for Pensions

    09/25/2014 1:01:40 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/20/2014 | James Hohman
    Steve Malanga at Public Sector Inc. reports on Pennsylvania governments increasing taxes in order to pay increased pension requirements. Malanga follows tax increases in Scranton, York City, and in a number of school districts. He also notes that districts are looking to challenge property assessments in search of more revenue. The Warrior Run School District in Union and Northumberland counties has a different idea on how to raise revenues. Last week the school district sent registered letters to dozens of property owners advising them that it is challenging the assessments of their properties, asking for a higher value and tax...
  • Michigan Now Spending More on Teacher Retiree Liabilities Than Prisons

    09/25/2014 10:13:02 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/24/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The state of Michigan will spend more money in 2015 on trying to catch up on underfunding for the public school employees pension liabilities and retirement health care than it will spend on the Michigan Department of Corrections. Michigan is planning on spending $1.937 billion to catch up on underfunding for the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System and another $880 million to catch up on public school employee retiree health care costs. The state’s 2015 budget for corrections is $2.040 billion. In 2013, the state underfunded its annual costs for pension and retiree health care for public school employees....
  • Resident Harmed by Windmills Now on County Planning Commission Which Approved Windmills

    09/24/2014 1:18:47 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/21/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Cary Shineldecker, the homeowner who warned his community that the margin of safety was inadequate at Lake Winds wind plant near Ludington, is now a member of the Mason County Planning Commission. This same commission initially failed to heed his warning but it has learned a lot since then. “What we’re seeing with Cary Shineldecker being appointed to the Mason County Planning Commission is part of a growing pattern,” said Kevon Martis, director of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, a nonprofit organization that is concerned about the construction of wind turbines in the region. “New local politicians are being produced...
  • The Growth of Shadow Government

    09/23/2014 12:17:03 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/23/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Some refer to them as “shadow government” — the pseudo-government associations and authorities that run in conjunction with traditional forms of government. The U.S. Census Bureau defines them as “Special District Governments” and reports that they are growing at a fast rate. From 2002 to 2012, special district governments in Michigan have jumped 33 percent from 332 to 443. Some special district governments are well publicized. For years, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority — whose board members are appointed by the city council —has sparred with the City of Ann Arbor over how to spend millions in parking revenue....
  • Dropping Union Health Insurance Saves District $737K

    09/23/2014 10:29:51 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/20/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In the three years since Dansville Schools dropped Michigan Education Special Services Association insurance for a different high-deductible plan, it has saved $736,873.87 and its employees haven't had to pay for any health insurance premiums in that time, according to the superintendent. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association that buys health insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and resells it to school districts. Dansville Superintendent Amy Hodgson said the $736,873 was how much more the district would have paid had it kept MESSA. She said the employees do have to make co-pays for...
  • House Committee Sitting on Bill That Would Let Qualified Nurses Write Prescriptions

    09/23/2014 8:36:27 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 17 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/21/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Michigan’s medical community is split over legislation that would give nurses with advanced training the authority to prescribe some medications. Essentially, physician groups are working to prevent nurses from gaining responsibilities that are currently reserved only for doctors. Senate Bill 2 would allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in Michigan to write prescriptions for patients without physician approval. This new authority would be limited to the particular nurse's scope of practice. Michigan is one of 21 states that do not recognize APRNs. In 16 states and Washington, D.C., these nurses are allowed to practice autonomously with regard to providing diagnosis...
  • From Detroit To The Ivy League: One Student's Journey

    09/19/2014 5:16:22 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/17/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    DETROIT — Driving down Waterman Street in Mexicantown in Southwest Detroit you pass boarded up houses, closed down businesses, and other things that make up too much of the city. Until you get to Cesar Chavez Academy. The school stands out like an island. No boards. No graffiti. No garbage in the parking lot. This is a place for learning. And it's where Daniel Felix has excelled. He came to Detroit from Los Angeles as a child and lives a few blocks from the high school with his two brothers, a grandfather, and parents who speak mostly Spanish. Felix with...
  • Ann Arbor Schools Bargains Over 'Prohibited Subject'

    09/19/2014 11:03:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/16/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Ann Arbor Public Schools three months ago negotiated a tentative agreement with its teachers union to provide “merit pay” of just $150 annually to educators who receive a “highly effective” rating. Under a law passed in 2011, however, merit pay is considered a “prohibited subject” for collective bargaining purposes. Yet Liz Margolis, spokeswoman for Ann Arbor Public Schools, claims that the district didn’t violate the law because choosing whether to negotiate over the issue remained under the “sole authority” of the school board. Margolis said parties can discuss prohibited subjects, but the union can’t require bargaining on it. But according...
  • Grand Rapids Transit Agency Defends New Bus Line

    09/19/2014 6:14:08 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/15/2014 | Anne Schieber
    The new $40 million bus line in Grand Rapids has been promoted in the media as a quicker alternative to travel, but timed trips by Capitol Confidential questioned that. Compared to travel by a car, the bus took twice as long. “We never claimed it would be faster than a car,” said Rapid Spokesperson Jennifer Kalczuk. The Rapid is the authority that runs the $40 million Silver Line BRT. She said the Silver Line saves time over a conventional bus taking the same route. Capital Confidential found a two-second difference between the two lines. Kalczuk says more riders will be...
  • Gap Between Teacher Salaries and Private-Sector Workers Increasing

    09/18/2014 12:53:49 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/16/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The Detroit Free Press recently reported that teacher salaries in Michigan have dropped 8 percent from 1999 to 2013 when factoring in inflation. The average teachers’ salary in Michigan was $49,044 in 1999-2000 and increased to $61,560 in 2012-13. But the gap in pay between teachers and the average worker has increased significantly over this time period. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, teachers now have 23 percent higher salaries than the median household income in Michigan, which was $50,115 in 2012. This is higher than in 1999-2000 when teacher salaries were 10 percent higher than the median household income...