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Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • Michigan State University Makes Smoking, Chewing Illegal Even in Your Own Car on Public Streets

    07/28/2016 6:47:33 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 30 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/25/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Beginning on Aug. 15, a new tobacco-free policy at Michigan State University will make drivers subject to a $150 fine for choosing to smoke or chew tobacco while traveling on public roads that cross the school’s East Lansing campus. “There’s no directive to our police that this needs to be strictly enforced,” MSU spokesman Jason Cody said. “We are looking at it through an educational lens.” Cody said he didn’t envision a police officer pulling over a motorist for smoking and giving a ticket. He did say he could see an officer on a bike telling a motorist who was...
  • Criminal Justice in a Free Society

    07/28/2016 5:23:15 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/26/2016 | Kahryn Riley
    The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is often labeled a “free market think tank,” which is correct but incomplete. The Center describes its purpose in part as, “broadening the debate on issues that has for many years been dominated by the belief that government intervention should be the standard solution.” In light of this, we’ve decided to extend that debate to include the issue of criminal justice reform. Although it has not been a major focus, Mackinac Center analysts have studied and written on issues in this area for many years. We published our first civil asset forfeiture study nearly...
  • GOP Convention Notes: 50,000 Attendees, Lots and Lots of Police

    07/27/2016 11:24:47 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 14 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/24/2016 | Derek Draplin
    CLEVELAND — For more than a week, barricades and almost four miles of nine-foot-tall security fencing have enclosed a perimeter encompassing several blocks of the city’s downtown. No, it’s not a post-apocalyptic scene from “The Walking Dead." It’s the borderline martial law at the 2016 Republican National Convention. In preparation for the 50,000 visitors flooding Cleveland for the convention, main arteries into the city are cut off, making way for "stand-off distance" around Quicken Loans Arena, the primary convention venue. Of the 50,000 attendees, 12,470 delegates, 2,302 alternate delegates, and 15,000 journalists converged on the city for the convention. The...
  • Imaginary Murder Pets Versus Michelle Obama

    07/27/2016 8:40:41 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/25/2016 | John Mozena
    In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama used a White House press release to announce a massive public-private-nonprofit campaign with “an ambitious national goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.” It took on childhood nutrition, exercise and much more. The resulting initiative is often known by its “Let’s Move” website name. Last week, the Pokémon Go mobile game launched. It encourages users to venture out into the real world to find and collect imaginary cartoon monsters at specific geographic points. Gamers then send their pets...
  • Shivering in the Dark? Sierra Club Opposes 91 Percent of Michigan Electricity

    07/27/2016 7:07:55 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/23/2016 | Tom Gantert
    The Sierra Club environmental organization opposes the three sources of energy responsible for 91 percent of the electricity generated in Michigan. It has been outspoken in its stance against the use of natural gas, coal and nuclear power to generate electricity for Michigan households and businesses. Michigan generates 32 percent of its electricity by burning coal and another 32 percent comes from nuclear power plants. Natural gas accounts for another 27 percent of electricity generation. Wind and solar account for less than 7 percent of net electricity generation in this state. “The Sierra Club opposes, or is pushing to phase...
  • Six Numbers Showing Detroit’s Pension Problems

    07/27/2016 5:10:55 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/24/2016 | Josh Paladino
    Cities across Michigan and the nation are struggling to pay out their promised pensions. Retiree liabilities were a root cause of Detroit's bankruptcy before a grand bargain trimmed benefits and required the city to set its pensions on a path toward solvency. Here are six numbers that explain the pension problems in Michigan’s largest city and what is being done going forward. 1. Nine Years – That’s how long Detroit could fund its entire transportation system with the money it will spend on its pension bankruptcy settlement. According to Detroit’s 2015 audit, transportation costs the city $100 million per year....
  • Detroit's Red Ink Remains, But Future Looks Brighter

    07/26/2016 12:17:12 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/24/2016 | Tom Gantert
    The city of Detroit’s 2015 annual report shows that one year after emerging from bankruptcy, its general fund was in the red by $145.4 million. But a city official says this is due to one-time expenses left over from the bankruptcy process, and that Detroit’s financial footing is much stronger than in the past. The city exited bankruptcy on Dec. 10, 2014. The latest annual report covers the period of July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015. According to John Naglick Jr., chief deputy CFO and finance director for the city, those one-time, bankruptcy-related spending items were significant. They included...
  • Vet Saves Dog's Life, Family is Happy – State Sanctions Him

    07/26/2016 9:29:18 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 19 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/25/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    A vet safely saves a dog’s life and the owners are happy, but he is punished with a fine and probation and could have lost his state license. Why? Because a state board — filled with his competitors — and a state department have that authority. This case involved Dr. Jan Pol, a veterinarian near Mt. Pleasant. As Michigan Capitol Confidential reports, five years ago, Pol performed an operation that was shown on his program on the Nat Geo Channel. The dog, Mr. Pigglesworth, was saved from being euthanized for under $300. But an out-of-state vet complained to the Michigan...
  • From Batting Nets to 'Hide Haulers,' Almost Everything Requires a License in Detroit

    07/26/2016 7:25:49 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/24/2016 | Derek Draplin
    Entrepreneurs looking to open a business in Detroit face licensing fees of up to $1,500 depending on the type of business. If a business isn't licensed or is not licensed properly, it is subject to stiff fines or even a complete shutdown. According to documents on the city of Detroit's website, furniture movers must pay a $178 licensing fee and $25 each for more than one vehicle plate. Anyone looking to open a bathhouse in the city will have to pay a $138 licensing fee while animal hide haulers must pay $35 for the first plate and $12 for the...
  • How Some Cities Dodge the Unfunded Pension Liability Trap

    07/26/2016 6:39:25 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/23/2016 | Josh Paladino
    When a city fails to properly fund employee pensions in the year they are earned, it creates an unfunded liability that will require more money later to backfill the obligation. Since municipalities have limited budgets, they typically cut from police, fire, and other community services to pay the deferred pension costs. Flint is one example out of many. The cost of catching up on past pension underfunding has skyrocketed, and the city now pays $20.4 million every year — a 50 percent increase since 2010. Filling this hole now consumes 42 percent of Flint’s general fund budget. But some local...
  • How an Ice-Making Company is Succeeding in Detroit

    07/25/2016 1:20:41 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 14 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/20/2016 | Anne Schieber
    To succeed in business, you don’t always have to be first, just better. When the Abbo family failed to get reliable ice delivery for their three retail grocery stores 35 years ago, they saw an opportunity. Saad Abbo remembers the tipping point came one hot summer weekend when his father called on a Thursday for a delivery and the ice showed on Monday. “My father was so mad that we lost so much business. We waited four days for ice and that shouldn’t have happened," Abbo said. "He said that we could do a lot better — let’s open an...
  • Drug Raids Down 75 Percent in Detroit as Police Shift Their Focus

    07/25/2016 12:23:05 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/23/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Narcotics raids by Detroit Police have plummeted over the past three years, something the department said is due to an increased focus on major violators. There were 855 police raids in 2015, according to the city’s 2015 audit that was released in June. That is down from a high of 3,462 raids in 2012. Detroit Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woody said the department has changed its focus over the last few years. He said there has been a restructuring involving the 80 officers who work in drug enforcement; they are now focused on what he called "major violators." Woody said...
  • Blown Away By Flawed Research on Jobs Program

    07/25/2016 11:07:05 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/22/2016 | James Hohman
    The Michigan Economic Development Corporation released a study on its 21st Century Jobs Fund, alleging that it helped create jobs in Michigan. Yet the study did not offer substantial proof. The MEDC needs to be more transparent about the shortcomings of Gov. Granholm’s “Blown Away” program. The study, written by TEConomy Partners, was a trove of unjustified assertions. It contains such models of terrible prose as, “Now is the time for Michigan to reinvest in its commitment to transition the state’s economy into a 21st century knowledge economy driven by innovation.” Yet the study did nothing to show why putting...
  • Democratic Senators Seek to Silence Debate About Global Warming

    07/21/2016 11:21:45 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 18 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/20/2016 | Tom Gantert
    U.S. Sen. Gary Peters from Bloomfield Township is one of 19 Democrats who were scheduled to give televised speeches from the Senate chamber on Monday and Tuesday criticizing some nonprofit think tanks for their work on global warming. The gambit is part of a larger campaign that is raising concerns of governmental retribution for free speech. Emily Enderle, chief environmental policy adviser for U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, sent an email July 10 revealing a coordinated plan. The plan targets 33 free-market think tanks and organizations, including the Cato Institute, The Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for...
  • Court Overrules Licensing Board, Exonerates Vet Who Saved Dog

    07/21/2016 7:52:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 30 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/20/2016 | Derek Draplin
    The Michigan Court of Appeals handed down a ruling in what it called the “Curious Case of Mr. Pigglesworth,” exonerating celebrity veterinarian Dr. Jan Pol of misconduct in a case that spanned five years. Its 3-0 decision overturned a fine and probation for Pol’s supposed negligence that was reported by another veterinarian who had watched his cable television show and took issue with his procedures. Pol, of Weidman, Michigan, is the star of the TV show "The Incredible Dr. Pol” on Nat Geo Wild, which focuses on his rural Mount Pleasant-area veterinary practice. In 2011, Pol treated a Boston terrier...
  • Private Schools Could Save Michigan $750 Million a Year

    07/21/2016 6:13:24 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/20/2016 | Ben DeGrow
    Although Michigan offers parents educational choices through Schools of Choice, public charter schools, online academies and dual enrollment, the state has yet to tap into a resource of educational opportunity that’s ready and willing to serve tens of thousands of students: Michigan’s private schools. A generation ago, private school choice — giving public aid to help parents pay private school tuition — was an unproven novelty nearly everywhere in the United States. This year, more than half the states have these types of programs, serving about 400,000 students, and that number keeps growing. But before we can have a serious...
  • Occupational Licensing Costs Hurt the Working Class

    07/21/2016 5:02:47 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 14 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/18/2016 | Josh Paladino
    Which profession requires upwards of $10,000 in education costs, over $200 in state fees, and 1,800 hours of training to enter: emergency medical technician (EMT) or barber? The correct answer is barber. In terms of time and cost, a prospective EMT can obtain an occupational license, required by the state of Michigan, much more easily than a prospective barber. For example, Baker College’s EMT certification program costs $6,600 and takes six months to complete. Completing a barber certification program in Michigan takes two years. This example is not to criticize EMTs or question their ability to do their job but...
  • MSU Drops Algebra From Graduation Requirements

    07/20/2016 12:30:30 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 85 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/19/2016 | Derek Draplin
    Michigan State University is the latest public university to tweak its general education curriculum, favoring quantitative courses over traditional math courses. The math requirement can now be fulfilled by taking two “quantitative learning” classes as an alternative, though students can choose algebra and one quantitative course, the Lansing State Journal reports. “The one-size-fits-all college algebra approach wasn’t working for all students,” Vince Melfi, an associate professor of statistics, told the Lansing State Journal. Previously, MSU’s basic math graduation requirement for most students included an algebra class. Students could also test out of the requirement or use transfer credit. MSU administrators...
  • School Funding At Record High

    07/20/2016 8:18:12 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/18/2016 | Tom Gantert
    State and federal funding for Michigan’s public schools will reach record levels in the coming school year. The school budget adopted by the Legislature in June will be the first to appropriate more than $14 billion for K-12 education. Also, for the first time, the state’s share will exceed $12 billion, with the rest being federal money. Total state funding will go up from $11.96 billion in the just-completed school year to $12.34 billion in the coming year. Overall state and federal funding will increase from $13.73 billion in 2015-16 to $14.16 billion in 2016-17. The funding increases are happening...
  • Former Gov. Granholm Left Teaching Job at Berkeley; Husband Dan Mulhern to Teach One Class in Fall

    07/20/2016 6:40:34 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/19/2016 | Tom Gantert
    It was a big news story at the prestigious Berkeley campus of the University of California in 2011 when former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm landed a teaching position at a college known for leaning left politically. The Jan. 24, 2011, Berkeley News headline read: “Former Michigan Gov. Granholm to teach at UC Berkeley.” The article noted that Granholm and her husband Dan Mulhern were both accepting teaching positions at the university's highly ranked schools of law, business and public policy. But Granholm’s stay would be short-lived. The university says she took an unpaid leave of absence. It started in September...
  • Detroit’s Top Employer No Longer a Government Entity

    07/20/2016 5:08:52 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/16/2016 | Tom Gantert
    The emergence of Dan Gilbert as a major employer in the city of Detroit has been meteoric. Gilbert’s prominence began in 2010 when he moved his Quicken Loans headquarters to the city. But two years ago, none of the companies under Gilbert’s “Rock Ventures” umbrella, including Quicken Loans, were on the list of the city’s top 10 employers. That changed by 2015 when Rock Ventures became Detroit’s top employer with 11,524 people on its payroll. The company’s website says it is “engaged in economic and real estate development, marketing and communications, philanthropy and government relations.” The city publishes a list...
  • Commemorating the Repeal of the Stamp Act

    07/19/2016 1:50:52 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/17/2016 | Derk Wilcox
    The United States Postal Service puts out many beautiful stamps. One current “forever stamp” isn’t as nice to look at, but you should still consider using it the next time you decide to send some snail mail. It commemorates the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766. If you’re like me, you probably have a vague memory of learning about the Stamp Act in grade school. Back then I wondered why it was such a big deal that the colonists had to pay more for stamps, because when I thought of stamps, I thought postage stamps. But for the American...
  • Pay for New Ann Arbor Teachers Up 24-44 Percent in Four Years

    07/19/2016 1:07:52 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/17/2016 | Tom Gantert
    In a speech before the Ann Arbor Board of Education this May, teacher Dan Ezekiel painted a bleak picture of compensation for teachers. Ezekiel, a science teacher who also is involved in local politics by serving on various county and city boards and commissions, was concerned about the pay of starting teachers in the district. He said he makes $3,000 less than he did eight years ago. Michigan Capitol Confidential put in a Freedom of Information Act request for teacher salaries in Ann Arbor for the years 2010-11 to 2014-15. Teacher salaries have become complex in recent years with some...
  • Detroit Soccer Team Turns to Private Investment to Fund New Stadium

    07/19/2016 11:50:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/16/2016 | Anne Schieber
    When Detroit's semipro soccer team needed a bigger stadium to accommodate its growing fan base, it did something unusual. Instead of seeking tax breaks or subsidies to support its ambitions, it turned to private supporters, mostly fans. It did so with the help of the Michigan Invests Locally Exemption or MILE Act. Detroit City FC raised $741,250 from 527 investors to refurbish Hamtramck’s Keyworth Stadium. The team’s first game at its new home, on May 13, was a sellout with 7,410 tickets sold. That was more than double the 3,500 tickets it was limited to selling when the team played...
  • As Municipal Golf Courses Lose Money, Taxpayers Pick Up the Tab

    07/19/2016 8:47:54 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/18/2016 | Josh Paladino
    In 2015, Lansing’s city government used $555,000 from its general fund to pay for its money-losing municipal golf course. That was not an unusual year; Groesbeck Golf Course has received money from the city’s general fund every year since at least 2005. In those 11 years, Lansing’s general fund has transferred $5.9 million to the golf course. These transfers compensate for the municipal course’s losses, which annually total of at least $400,000. Cities get into the golf business believing that they will make money. But a review of public courses in Michigan shows that, in practice, they are big losers...
  • Lawsuit Challenges Forced Payments for Tourism Bureaus

    07/19/2016 7:24:56 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2016 | Derek Draplin
    A decades-old law paved the way for quasi-governmental bodies to tax private businesses and then use the money to entice tourists to the area. A business owner who objects to the practice has recently filed a lawsuit in the matter. “The Tourism mafia,” as George Galbraith calls the local tourism bureau, has cost him an estimated $5,000 a year in revenues. Galbraith owns The Landings on Indian River, which offers tourists cabin rentals and a marina in Indian River, Michigan, a small community in Cheboygan County. George Galbraith A 1980 law called the Community Convention or Tourism Marketing Act laid...
  • New Evidence: Film Incentives Still Don’t Work

    07/19/2016 5:13:37 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/14/2016 | Michael Van Beek
    Last year Michigan lawmakers wisely did away with what was once the most generous film incentive program in the nation. Mackinac Center research showed that despite giving film producers half a billion dollars from 2007 to 2013, there were no signs that the film industry in Michigan was actually growing. Essentially, the program amounted to a taxpayer handout to a select few movie production studios. And now there’s new research that suggests these programs aren’t benefiting other states’ economies either. The evidence comes from an article published in the American Review of Public Administration written by Michael Thom, a professor...
  • Here's What the NY Times Got Wrong On Detroit Public Schools

    07/18/2016 1:07:01 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2016 | Tom Gantert
    This week, The New York Times published a lengthy article on the public education landscape in Detroit. The article went to some length to portray the city's charter schools in the worst possible light and implied that they were the primary cause of Detroit Public Schools' collapse. The Times article, titled “More School Choice for Detroit’s Children, Not Better Schools,” also contained a number of factual errors and problematic claims. Michigan Capitol Confidential lists these below, adding corrections or missing context as needed. The New York Times wrote: “For all the abandoned buildings and burned-down houses in her neighborhood in...
  • How Bad Investment Rate Projections Cause Pension Underfunding

    07/18/2016 10:32:09 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/11/2016 | Josh Paladino
    Michigan’s 100 largest cities and townships have over $5.4 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. The liabilities are the difference between what municipalities have promised to public workers as retiree benefits and what they have put aside to pay for them. A main driver behind this future debt seems to be the “discount rate” – the investment rate cities assume when projecting costs far off in the future. Some cities assume extremely generous market returns, which mean they pay less in the short term but much more later when their assumptions turn out to be too high. But cities that use...
  • Union Contract Delivers Five-Year Salary Freeze for State's Teacher of the Year

    07/18/2016 8:49:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/13/2016 | Tom Gantert
    In May, the state Department of Education named Tracy Horodyski as Michigan’s 2016-17 Teacher of the Year. But Horodyski, who has 16 years of classroom experience teaching at Kenowa Hills Public Schools in Kent County, won’t see any salary raise coming from the school district, due to a provision in her union contract. Like all Michigan teachers union contracts, the one at Kenowa Hills bases an individual's salary on just two criteria – the number of educational credentials acquired and years of service. The Kenowa Hills Public Schools teachers contract has 28 seniority-based pay tiers or "steps." There is generally...
  • A $4.6 Billion Transit Millage Is a Tax Too Far for Detroit

    07/18/2016 7:57:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2016 | John Mozena
    The other day, I attended a public hearing of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan in Northwest Detroit. The Mackinac Center’s analysts haven’t dug deeply into the RTA’s plans and assumptions surrounding its $4.6 billion millage request on November’s ballot. But the rhetoric from the RTA leadership in attendance was troubling — even before we look at the numbers. Longtime Detroit radio host Mildred Gaddis broadcast from the event for her show on WCHB-AM 1200, interviewing RTA representatives and taking questions from the audience and social media. Virtually all the questions focused on either service concerns — Would the...
  • Deficits Loom, But Community College Launches Athletics Program Anyway

    07/18/2016 5:37:56 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Having eliminated some teaching positions and still facing a projected budget deficit, a community college in Michigan's Upper Peninsula plans to launch an athletics program. The move is stirring criticism from faculty members who question the administration’s priorities. Bay de Noc Community College in Escanaba will add men’s and women’s cross-country in the fall of 2017, and then men’s and women’s basketball in the winter. The college president said athletics will be added — on a shoestring basis — as a way to attract students and offset a declining enrollment. “We need to do something,” said Bay College President Laura...
  • School Administrator in Line for $58,000 Increase in Pay

    07/15/2016 10:39:57 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/11/2016 | Derek Draplin
    A top Brighton Area Schools administrator is slated to get a $58,000 annual raise in addition to a $121,931 base salary and a professorial position at a college, drawing criticism from two school board members. The Brighton Area Schools Board of Education will vote Monday on whether Maria Gistinger, assistant superintendent of finance for the district, will get the raise for also serving as director of community education. The new contract would last two years and require Gistinger to work 260 days a year. In addition to her Brighton administrative duties, Gistinger also serves as a full-time professor of accounting...
  • Vote Sends Lake Michigan Water Outside the Great Lakes Basin

    07/15/2016 10:14:35 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 35 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/10/2016 | Derek Draplin
    An agreement approved Tuesday by a multi-state governmental body known as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council will allow the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin to draw millions of gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan. Waukesha, a city of 70,000 located 20 miles west of Milwaukee, lies in the Mississippi River Basin, just outside the Great Lakes Basin. Gov. Rick Snyder sent a representative to vote in favor of the unprecedented plan at a hearing in Chicago Tuesday afternoon. A veto by any state in the Council would have derailed Waukesha’s plan. Great Lakes Basin The...
  • More School Spending is Still Unlikely to Boost Achievement

    07/01/2016 5:40:52 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/29/2016 | Ben DeGrow
    In a critique of our recently published study on the relationship between school spending and academic achievement, Bruce Baker, a professor at Rutgers University, raises technical concerns that lead him to question our empirical methodology and qualitative conclusions. The nature of his comments suggests that a select group of previous research, which stand in contrast to our research in both empirical approach and qualitative findings, are methodologically superior and show a positive relationship between spending per pupil and student achievement. We address both the general and technical concerns Baker raises and describe why our research improves over the earlier papers...
  • Right-To-Work For More? Michigan Income Growth the Nation’s Third-Fastest

    07/01/2016 12:30:06 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/29/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Incomes in Michigan grew faster than all but two other states during the first three months of 2016 according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Per capita personal income in Michigan increased 1.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016, trailing only the states of Washington (1.5 percent) and Maine (1.4 percent). “More confirmation that Michigan's economy is doing very well,” said Don Grimes, a University of Michigan economist, in an email. Nationwide, state incomes grew 1.0 percent on average during the period, ranging from a loss of 1.3...
  • Michigan Governor Vetoes Bill Limiting Consumer Auto Parts Choices

    07/01/2016 11:30:25 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/28/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    When the Michigan Legislature passes a bill by wide margins, it is usually signed into law, regardless of how good the actual policy is. But a bill that would have discriminated against certain auto parts and added red tape for consumers and businesses was recently vetoed by Gov. Snyder. As we previously wrote: Right now, if a Michigan citizen goes to get a car repaired, it is fairly simple for the owner of the vehicle and a mechanic to decide what kind of parts to use to provide the fix. Unless a bill that has passed the Michigan Legislature is...
  • Fewer School Districts Borrowing to Cover Expenses, But Pension Debt Rising

    07/01/2016 8:50:04 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/29/2016 | Tom Gantert
    A recent state report indicates that by the end of June, as many as 18 school districts are projected to emerge out of red ink, leaving just 22 districts in a deficit situation. Although some media reports have cast this as a story of underfunded schools, they do so by ignoring the fact that just three years ago 55 districts had a deficit, a state record. Michigan school districts are required by state law to balance their budget each year and not spend more than they take in. Nevertheless, every year some do have expenses exceed revenues, which is labeled...
  • State Government Up to Its Eyeballs in Pension Debt

    07/01/2016 7:36:05 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/28/2016 | James Hohman
    Unlike Washington D.C., Michigan’s state government is constitutionally prohibited from spending more than it takes in each year and borrowing to make up the difference. Yet state taxpayers are still liable for large amounts of state debt, for purposes both practical and problematic. The debts of greatest concern to residents are general obligation bonds, backed by general taxpayer dollars. Payments come right out of the annual general fund tax revenue the state uses to support the rest of what it does. Michigan’s recently passed budget includes $137 million to make payments on this debt, paid from state’s general fund (largely...
  • How They Spin 'Underfunded Schools': Ignore the Federal Money

    07/01/2016 6:20:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/29/2016 | Tom Gantert
    One of the most inaccurate narratives promoted in the Detroit school bailout debate is that poor urban districts like Detroit are underfunded compared to schools in more affluent suburbs. What this storyline fails to acknowledge is the role of federal money in hiking funding for poorer urban school districts. All school districts get some federal money, but poor districts get a lot more, and the difference is significant. Click to enlarge To illustrate, the average amount of federal money received by all Michigan school districts was $513 per pupil during 2014-15, but poor districts like Detroit ($3,494 per pupil), Benton...
  • Moving Forward on Forfeiture Reform

    06/30/2016 1:57:21 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/26/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    Forfeiture is the process of transferring of property or cash from citizens to the government and is done at the state and national level. Sometimes, it happens through the criminal justice system. A person is charged with and convicted of a crime and the court determines if the the defendant acquired assets (usually cars or cash) through illegal activity. If the court says yes, those assets can be forfeited to the state. But, increasingly, law enforcement is using civil forfeiture — a process which goes through the civil system rather than the criminal system. In civil forfeiture, assets can be...
  • Spiking Pensions: Another MEA Executive Involved in Special Deals

    06/30/2016 1:12:49 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/28/2016 | Tom Gantert
    The secretary-treasurer of the state’s largest teachers union is one of several top union executives involved in a pension spiking scheme in public school districts. The arrangement increases the union officials' retirement payouts from the state-run school pension system. The officials are all former school employees who left public employment to work for the union full time. Under the spiking arrangement, however, they are still carried on school payrolls — and as a result are still accumulating pension credits with the school retirement system. Rick Trainor was a teacher for 21 years at the Mount Pleasant school district. In 2011...
  • University Drops Math Requirement for Diversity Class

    06/30/2016 6:53:08 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 30 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/27/2016 | Derek Draplin
    A faculty committee has proposed adding a three credit hours requirement in diversity to the general education curriculum at Wayne State University. It also recommended that WSU drop its university-wide requirement in mathematics, an idea that was carried out on June 13. “We are proposing the creation of specific ‘Diversity’ courses, with students required to take one course in this designation,” said a document from the General Education Reform Committee, which is recalibrating what the university will expect from all students who earn a degree from the state university. It released the proposal in May. The committee report said, “These...
  • 'I Don’t Know My Country Anymore'

    06/30/2016 5:42:26 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 28 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/26/2016 | Joseph Lehman
    A sort of bewildered malaise has settled over some parts of the free-market movement. It’s the kind of thing that certain types of optimists would like to ignore, but realists treat it much differently. They lean in to learn what is happening, why, and what to do about it. Its proximate cause is the Republican presidential nomination of Donald Trump, but it may have emerged after the 2012 national election. President Obama’s re-election disappointed many Mackinac Center supporters because it meant collectivist policies would continue to enjoy Oval Office support. But some of our friends articulated unease beyond displeasure with...
  • Another School District-Teachers Union Pension Spiking Deal

    06/29/2016 1:12:09 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/26/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Another Michigan school district and a high-level executive from the state’s largest teachers union have entered into a pension spiking arrangement that benefits the union official financially. The deal will let Nancy Strachan, the vice president of the Michigan Education Association, use her six-figure union salary to draw larger benefits from the state-run school pension system. The deal between Strachan and Wayne-Westland Community Schools mirrors those benefiting several other union officials, and will allow her to collect approximately $16,200 extra per year from the underfunded system. The amount of a school employee's pension benefit is based on the person's years...
  • As Right-to-Work Expands, So Do Union Membership Rolls

    06/29/2016 12:11:01 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/26/2016 | Vincent Vernuccio
    In March, the United Auto Workers reported that its membership grew 1.3 percent in 2015. This may come as a surprise to some because a substantial number of UAW members work in right-to-work states like Michigan. But the report highlights something worker-freedom supporters — and even some UAW officials — already knew: Right-to-work can be good for unions. Right-to-work laws do nothing to diminish a union’s ability to organize a workplace or a worker’s ability to become a union member and pay dues. A recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that in 2015, unions in what...
  • Pure Michigan: An Economic Development Program That Doesn’t Create Any Development

    06/29/2016 10:33:05 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/24/2016 | Michael LaFaive
    May marked the 10th anniversary of the Pure Michigan advertising campaign, which is designed to lure tourists to the Great Lake State. It is sold as a program that leads to economic development and yields more in tax revenues than it spends. But our research shows that state-funded efforts to promote tourism are a net negative. Lawmakers should defund the Pure Michigan program. The state operates a travel bureau within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which has overseen the $261 million appropriated by the Legislature for Pure Michigan since fiscal year 2006. The campaign features advertisements about Michigan and is...
  • County Takes Michigan Woman's Property Over $7 Late Fee

    06/29/2016 9:47:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 36 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/23/2016 | Derek Draplin
    A vacant lot owned by a Jackson woman was foreclosed by Hillsdale County because she failed to pay a $7 late fee on her property taxes. A Freedom of Information Act request found that Pam Baker, a Jackson resident, owed Hillsdale County $7.70 in interest and late fees for delinquent taxes from 2013 on land she owned near Lake LeAnn in Somerset Township. The 2013 taxes on the property, which she owned since 2000, were due on Feb. 14, 2014. Baker says she paid her taxes two weeks late because she was in a car crash seven days before the...
  • Detroit’s Economic Fortunes Won’t Get a Kick Out of Subsidizing a New Soccer Stadium

    06/29/2016 7:58:23 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 21 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/26/2016 | Dr. Christopher Douglas
    Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores have recently floated the idea of bringing a Major League Soccer team to Detroit. The initial plan for the team’s new stadium was to place it on the site of the unfinished Wayne County jail, and there’s been some talk about financing the project, in part, with taxpayer dollars. Attendance at MLS games has been strong and growing, averaging 21,574 fans per match in 2015 — more than the NBA’s average of 17,826. But despite the growing popularity of soccer in the United States and despite what proponents of this new team might say, a...
  • New Study Shows Positive Effects of Ridesharing

    06/29/2016 7:10:57 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/24/2016 | Geneva Ruppert
    Uber has long suggested that the introduction of its service correlates with a decrease in drunk driving arrests. In Seattle, for example, DUI arrests dropped by 10 percent after Uber launched. But the company acknowledged that a more detailed analysis would be necessary to show causation. That analysis has arrived in the form of a recently published paper by Angela Dills of Providence College and Sean Mulholland of Stonehill College, who conducted a broad study of Uber in over 150 cities. “Ride-Sharing, Fatal Crashes, and Crime” addresses not just incidences of drunk driving, but also crash rates and certain other...