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Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • What Do Teachers Want to Support?

    07/22/2014 5:53:29 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/20/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    The economic effects of state right-to-work laws are important, but these laws are significant for other reasons, too, namely the fact that employees cannot be forced to contribute money to a union they disagree with as a condition of their employment. This is especially significant because many labor unions, particularly in forced unionism states, are political organizations that spend money on issues that most people would consider partisan and contentious. Allysia Finley of The Wall Street Journal recently covered the National Education Association’s annual convention and explains how that union chose to spend its membership dues. The Michigan Education Association,...
  • Union Urges Dems To Vote In GOP Primary

    07/18/2014 2:43:59 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/17/2014 | Jack Spencer
    A division of the Michigan Education Association's political action committee, which is funded in part by teachers, is urging its members to cast votes in Michigan's 47th House District Republican primary even if they consider themselves to be Democrats. In a letter labeled: "IMPORTANT!," the MEA/Livingston County PAC Screening and Recommending Committee pressed union members to cast votes for Handy Township Supervisor Henry Vaupel, a Fowlerville veterinarian who is one of five candidates on the GOP primary ballot. A designation at the top of the letter reads in bold print: "To: All MEA members residing in House District 47," then...
  • New Deal Fruit Mandates Means Millions of Pounds of Cherries Getting Dumped

    07/18/2014 5:53:11 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/17/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Ron French has a great article in Bridge Magazine looking at "the crazy economics of Michigan's favorite pitted fruit." The piece describes some of the federal cherry regulations that are mostly left over from the New Deal of the 1930s: [T]he tart cherry industry is told by the U.S. government how much of their product they can put on the market. The Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB), operating under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), sets restrictions on the percentage of the tart cherry crop that can be sold. Some years the share of the market restricted from...
  • Manufacturing Job Growth Helps Move Michigan Ahead

    07/17/2014 12:48:53 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Gov. Rick Snyder's Facebook page boasted recently that Michigan led the nation in manufacturing job growth in May by adding 4,500 jobs. In fact, from May 2012 to May 2014, Michigan was first in the nation in gross manufacturing job gains with 25,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas was second with 22,000 jobs added. Michigan has been sixth in that time span in percentage growth (4.7 percent). Montana led the nation in percentage growth over the past two years at 8.5 percent. University of Michigan economist Don Grimes said Michigan's economy is doing well, but he...
  • The Free Enterprise Philosophy In a 12-Cell Matrix

    07/17/2014 7:30:18 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/15/2014 | Dale Haywood
    Dale M. Haywood served on the board of scholars for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy from near its founding until his death in 2006. Haywood taught economics and philosophy at Northwood University and delivered a speech that properly "describes why private property, a free market, a profit and loss system and limited government are necessary components for allowing people to prosper." His lecture, which he gave countless times to college students, uses a 12-cell matrix to explain the free enterprise philosophy. Below are the 12 cells with four points each discussing components, meaning and purpose. Each point has a...
  • Michigan Teacher Pension Costs Increase To Nearly $1 Billion Per Year

    07/16/2014 11:20:01 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/14/2014 | Tom Gantert
    What started out as a $155 million tab in 2012 for public school employee pension and retirement health care costs will increase to $945 million by 2015, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. The driver of the escalating costs is MPSERS' unfunded liability. The pension system's unfunded liability was $25.8 billion in 2013, up from $24.3 billion in 2012. The state's payments also go to defray retiree health care costs. The costs for the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System includes the $882.7 million the state is projecting to spend on retirement contributions for K-12 education in 2015 plus the...
  • Union Bashing 'Big Oil' Has Pensions Invested In Exxon and Chevron

    07/16/2014 8:25:36 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/13/2014 | Manny Lopez
    Listen to the Michigan Education Association and you would think that anyone who dares talk to teachers about their rights is trying to destroy education in America. To some extent, the rhetoric is expected. Changes to the status quo in education mean that unions lose their stranglehold on the tax dollars they’ve become accustomed to getting with little accountability. The MEA does not like that the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is informing teachers of their rights under Michigan's right-to-work law. Teachers who belong to the MEA but do not want to support the union for any variety of reasons...
  • Failing Charter Public Schools Are Shut Down; Conventional Public Schools Remain Open

    07/16/2014 5:33:53 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/15/2014 | Tom Gantert
    There are 51 schools that have been in the bottom 5 percent of the Michigan Department of Education's Top-to-Bottom rankings three years in a row. Of those 51 schools, four were charter public schools and three of those four were closed. Meanwhile, the conventional public schools on the list remain open. "Charter schools have traditionally been the only public schools that have been held accountable for their performance," said Michigan Association of Public School Academies President Dan Quisenberry. "If they fail their students, they're closed down. That's never happened with a traditional public school, ever. What we need is this...
  • An intern's brush with bureaucracy

    07/15/2014 10:13:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/13/2014 | Zac Dawes
    Gathering up-to-date public pension data is no trivial task. While all municipalities are required to report basic accounting and financial information, many make it quite difficult to obtain. Cities and townships are required to file audits and most list a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) with this information. But just because the reports have to be filed doesn't mean they are easy to find. Even among Michigan's 100 largest municipalities, there are large discrepancies between how the reports are posted online. Taxpayers should take note because politicians across the spectrum and at all levels of government talk about working for...
  • Supreme Court Ruling Opens Door For Daycare Workers To Get Money Back From Union

    07/15/2014 6:50:31 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Michigan daycare operators who had millions of dollars taken from them in a unionization scheme that has since been outlawed, may get some of their money back. On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Harris v. Quinn that people who take care of others and are paid with funds that partially come from the state cannot be unionized because they are not state workers. It also opened the door for Michigan daycare workers involved in a previous, separate scheme to revisit a class action lawsuit to get money back that was taken by the American Federation of...
  • Public School District Benefits By Branching Into Private Schools

    07/15/2014 5:56:50 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    For years, Brighton Area Schools struggled with deficits and saw it balloon to $8.5 million in 2012-2013. That's up from $2.3 million in 2008-2009. However, the district now projects it cannot only be out of deficit, but show a surplus in 2014-15 thanks to its "shared services" program that brought the district $8 million dollars in 2013-14. "Where else are we going to generate $8 million a year?" said Brighton School Board Member Bill Trombley. "What else are you going to do?" Public schools can provide services to private schools in non-core areas such as art, computers, foreign language, music,...
  • School Official Says Illegal Language Should Be Removed From Union Contract

    07/11/2014 1:23:32 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/7/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Unlike school officials in some other districts, the assistant superintendent of the Monroe Public Schools acknowledges that its union contract for teachers has provisions that are in violation of the state's right-to-work law and says they should be removed. The union contract, which runs from March 1, 2014 to Aug. 15, 2016, states that a teacher must pay union dues or an agency fee as a condition of employment. That is in conflict with the state's right-to-work law that took effect March 28, 2013. Assistant Superintendent Ryan McLeod said the school district doesn't follow the illegal practices spelled out in...
  • Happy Birthday, America

    07/11/2014 10:41:36 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/4/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    The Fourth of July is the only day of the year singled out by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in which employees are actually encouraged to celebrate. According to the Center’s employee handbook: All staff are encouraged to celebrate Independence Day with passion and verve, remembering it as the signatory day of a document embodying the most sublime of political ideals, an apogee in mankind's quest for liberty of thought and action, the restoration of which is the vision of our organization. We take human liberty very seriously. It is more than marketing. Sometimes our love for liberty manifests...
  • What the 4th of July Means to Me

    07/11/2014 9:23:21 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/9/2014 | Kendra Shrode
    As we watch countless numbers of human beings struggle for freedom and liberty around the globe, it is good to reflect upon the blessings we enjoy in the land that we love — this United States of America. This is my 67th Fourth of July celebration and my memories of the day are some of those very blessings…family time in many places. All were amazing…captivated by fireworks in small-town America…aboard a small boat on the Mississippi River and also a huge cruise liner in Alaska…on the Palace Green in Williamsburg, Va.…in several baseball parks…attending the Baltimore Symphony at Oregon Ridge…attending...
  • Michigan Taxes Junkyard Dogs

    07/11/2014 7:10:21 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/10/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    On Aug. 5, most voters will be focused on the primary elections for candidates. But there is another important issue on the ballot that day. Voters will be asked to approve or reject legislation reforming Michigan's personal property tax. This is a tax businesses pay annually on the value of their equipment. A "yes" vote would eliminate this cost for small businesses and phase it out for manufacturing companies. In Michigan, that means junkyards are paying taxes on the value of their dogs, hotels on their drapery, hair salons on their leftover shampoo, and bars on the worth of their...
  • Insurance 52% to 119% Costlier Under Obamacare

    07/11/2014 5:25:11 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/10/2014 | Jack McHugh
    The Manhattan Institute has just released an interactive map comparing on a county-by-county basis the least expensive individual health insurance policies available before and after the federal health care law went into effect. To make the analysis more fair, the earlier rates are adjusted to reflect higher prices paid by individuals with pre-existing conditions (the methodology is explained here). These are then compared to the lowest rates currently available on the federal exchange. In Michigan, statewide average rates for men ages 27, 40 and 64 rose 107 percent, 73 percent and 52 percent, respectively. For women of the same ages,...
  • Taxpayers Handcuffed By Money Being Given To Beverly Hills Cop Production Company

    07/10/2014 12:06:35 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/7/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Detroit is bankrupt and required a $195 million bailout from state taxpayers, but it apparently is the perfect backdrop for the new Beverly Hills Cop movie, which will get $13.5 million in state dollars. The sequel to the 1984 classic will feature Eddie Murphy and is being made by Paramount Pictures, which is owned by Viacom. Viacom reported a profit of $3.7 billion in 2013. "Now that’s irony," said Eric Larson, president of the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance. The movie production is estimated to spend $56.6 million in Michigan while filming. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman received $37.2 million in compensation...
  • Dem Candidate Wants Double-Standard On School District Advertising

    07/10/2014 5:56:17 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/7/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Mark Schauer, the Democratic candidate for governor, told MLive that if he's elected he promises to limit how much charter public schools could spend on advertising. The news site reported that "he also promised to limit advertising spending by for-profit operators." Schauer reportedly was upset that a national charter management company spent $300,000 in advertising. He did not, however, promise to stop or restrict traditional public schools from advertising, which school districts across the state do. In the summer of 2013, Milan Public Schools started an advertising campaign that it credits for increased enrollment. Milan Public Schools Superintendent Bryan Girbach...
  • Michigan Families Set Stage For Helping End Forced Unionization Schemes

    07/09/2014 9:48:42 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/7/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Harris v. Quinn case means that parents of disabled children, relatives and friends taking care of loved ones and child care providers can no longer be forced to financially support unions simply because they receive taxpayer-provided assistance. "I felt like doing back flips," said Sherry Loar, when asked her reaction to the high court's decision. Loar is the Petoskey child care provider, who in 2009 brought the first forced unionization of workers to the attention of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "Trying to bring to light the fact that this is about...
  • Union Embraces More Outsourcing - But still protests when schools do it

    07/09/2014 7:55:49 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/5/2014 | Michael Van Beek
    The Michigan Education Association is a large critic of school boards hiring private companies to provide noninstructional services, such as custodial, food and transportation. But the union uses this often fiscally responsible practice itself, as the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has documented several times in the past. The most recent example is revealed in this video that features MEA employees attesting to how great outsourcing their dues collection services was. In it, MEA representatives admit that their "in-house" attempts to collect dues were "not reliable, and inaccurate." They also admit that their accounting was shoddy — apparently the union...
  • Supreme Court Rules Unionization Schemes Involving Home-Based Care Providers Are Illegal

    07/08/2014 9:34:23 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 17 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/2/2014 | Jack Spencer
    The United States Supreme Court said today that workers who indirectly receive state funds for taking care of the disabled or elderly cannot be forced to pay union dues. The Justices ruled 5-4 in favor of an Illinois mom and a group of Illinois personal care assistants who said their First Amendment rights of free speech and free association had been violated by a forced unionization. The case, Harris v. Quinn, was similar to a scheme in Michigan in which the Service Employees International Union took more than $34 million from the elderly and disabled who received Medicaid money from...
  • Court Backs Finding Of Wind Turbine Noise Problem

    07/08/2014 6:56:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/5/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Michigan's 51st Circuit Court has ruled that Mason County was justified in determining that wind turbines at the Lake Winds Industrial Wind Plant near Ludington are too noisy. In his June 16 decision, Judge Richard Cooper denied Consumer Energy's appeal to have the court overturn the county's finding that the wind plant was exceeding the county's established decibel level limits. In a highly technical explanation, Judge Cooper said it was reasonable for the county to take into account the impact of maximum wind speeds that are not outside the norm. He also rejected the argument that excessive noise levels occurring...
  • Audit Shows SEIU 'Dues Skim' Likely Bolstered By Extra $3.7 Million; Union-Run Registry Ineffective

    07/07/2014 6:57:10 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/3/2014 | Jack Spencer
    An audit of the state's Medicaid Home Help Program found that the state of Michigan improperly paid providers $146.4 million from Oct. 1, 2010 to February 28, 2013, the last 17 months of the home health care "dues skim." The audit also indicates strongly that various forms of fraud played a significant role in the overpayment. Because the time period covered by the audit took place before the April 2013 official end of the "dues skim,” the SEIU would have been enriched by the errors the audit brought to light. Based on a 2.5 percent take for dues and fees,...
  • Repeal Post and Hold Alcohol Rules

    07/07/2014 1:05:50 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/2/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    Thank you Commissioners. My name is Michael LaFaive and I am director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. I am here today to exercise my right to request the partial rescission of two rules, R.436.1625 (1-4) and R.436.1726 (1-2). These are commonly referred to as "post and hold" rules. As you know, these rules mandate posting of price schedules for beer and wine and the holding of those prices for a length of time depending on the product. Research shows that these rules suffocate competition to the benefit of narrow special interests, such...
  • Public School Administrators Complain About Pension Costs; Don't Offer Solutions

    07/03/2014 2:15:18 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/1/2014 | Tom Gantert
    School superintendents across the state are starting to take their message about rising teacher retirement costs directly to parents. Midland Public Schools Superintendent Michael Sharrow wrote June 16 that retirement costs were costing the district an extra $60 per student. Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Susan Zurvalec also told parents in a letter the district's budget woes were tied to costs related to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. Teachers across the state still get traditional pensions as retirement benefits. Other state workers and most people employed in the private sector have 401(k)-type retirement plans. The unfunded liability for teacher...
  • 'He's Just Making That Up' — No Shortage of Attacks In Justin Amash Race

    07/03/2014 10:04:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/2/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Kent County business owner Brian Ellis denies that he's the "establishment" candidate in Michigan's 3rd Congressional District Republican Primary race, which pits him against two-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Justin Amash. Ellis, who founded Brooktree Capital Management and lives in Grand Rapids, has picked up endorsements from a number of "establishment" political action committees including Right-to-Life Michigan PAC, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce PAC and Michigan Farm Bureau Agri-PAC. Yet, according to a recent poll conducted by WXYZ-TV and the Detroit Free Press, Ellis trails U.S. Rep. Amash by 20 percentage points. "Everybody likes to portray their opponent in that...
  • State Policies Matter

    07/02/2014 10:45:50 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/29/2014 | Lyman Stone
    A new report by Michigan Future Inc. focuses on Minnesota, claiming to show how Minnesota has maintained a high level of economic prosperity despite being a high-tax state. After a detailed look at Minnesota's tax policies, the report claims that Minnesota's strong economy is due to investing "additional revenue in services and investments that matter in a knowledge-based economy," which means, broadly, higher government spending. But it does not address key structural differences between Michigan and Minnesota's economies, and it actually misses the fact that Michigan's "knowledge-based economy" is, by many metrics, just as strong as Minnesota's. Ultimately, there is...
  • School Districts Copying Each Other's Homework While Calling Increased Funding a 'Cut'

    07/01/2014 6:22:53 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/29/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Susan Zurvalec said in a June 13 letter to parents that a $50 per-pupil increase in the school's foundation allowance "means another $335,000 loss for Farmington Public Schools …” There are now two superintendents in Oakland County claiming an increase in funding somehow translates to an overall loss of revenue for the district. Walled Lake Consolidated Superintendent Kenneth Gutman made a similar claim recently. For Farmington Public Schools, Zurvalec appears to come to the loss by taking the $83 per-pupil foundation allowance increase the district had budgeted to receive and factored how much less the district...
  • A Request For Lower Beer And Wine Prices

    07/01/2014 1:56:36 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/28/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Your beer and wine costs more than it should because Michigan has anti-competitive rules that benefit wholesalers instead of consumers. That's because of "post and hold" rules that mandate that alcohol wholesalers and manufacturers post price changes for beer and wine and then leave them in place for a specific amount of time, said Michael LaFaive, director or the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Locking in prices allows companies to coordinate pricing with their so-called competition, he said. At the Michigan Liquor Control Commission's semi-annual public hearing on Thursday, the Mackinac Center submitted a...
  • Unionization Ruling Before The Supreme Court Could Be 'Huge'

    06/27/2014 7:18:02 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 24 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/26/2014 | Jack Spencer
    As the current term of the United States Supreme Court nears its end, a ruling remains to be announced that could fundamentally change the way government unions are organized. Harris v. Quinn, which involves personal care providers in Illinois who contested a forced unionization they were subjected to, is largely equivalent to the home health care "dues skim" that took place in Michigan. In both unionization schemes, workers who take care of the elderly and disabled were forced into a union. In Michigan, an affiliate of the Service Employees International union took more than $34 million from the Medicaid checks...
  • Ohio Eliminates In-state Renewable Energy Mandate

    06/27/2014 10:07:30 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/22/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich signed legislation that ends Ohio’s in-state wind energy mandate and also signed a measure to keep wind turbines farther away from neighboring property. Gov. Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 on June 13. Wind plants in Ohio, unlike in Michigan, will now have to try to compete with cheaper wind generated electricity from states where wind power is produced more efficiently. In addition, the legislation freezes the state’s overall renewable energy mandate for two years, while lawmakers re-evaluate it. Michigan still has an in-state wind mandate and the state Legislature has not made any serious effort...
  • State Agency Rules That Graduate Student Research Assistants Not Eligible For Unionization

    06/27/2014 8:54:10 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/24/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In another legal twist in the debate over whether college students can be unionized, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission ruled Thursday that graduate student research assistants are not public employees. "We feel it's right and we are happy about it," said Layla Houshmand, a graduate student at the University of Michigan and a member of Students Against GSRA Unionization. "I'm in this for my own education and I never felt like a state employee." Earlier this year, a federal judge declared unconstitutional a state law that said student research assistants were not public employees. MERC, however, cited a similar ruling...
  • School District's Math Doesn't Add Up

    06/27/2014 5:08:39 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/26/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The superintendent of the school district that has on average the third-highest paid teachers in the state said in a letter posted on the district's website that a $50 per-pupil foundation allowance increase from the state was "devastating." Walled Lake Consolidated School District Superintendent Kenneth Gutman's response to the state budget claimed the $50 per-pupil increase in funding would translate to "another $518,000 loss for Walled Lake Schools." A $50 per-pupil increase for a district with 15,000 students would generate about $750,000 more dollars for the district. It's unclear how Gutman came up with the loss figure. In the letter,...
  • The After Effects Of Michigan's Minimum Wage Increase

    06/26/2014 2:06:30 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/24/2014 | Manny Lopez
    Despite overwhelming evidence from economists on both sides of the political aisle, Republicans in leadership positions in the Michigan Legislature pushed for an increase to the state's minimum wage. They were rewarded for their efforts when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the increase into law late last month. By 2018, employers across the state will be forced to pay at least $9.25 an hour to workers. Forced increases to the minimum wage will continue in 2019 and beyond because the wage will be adjusted to the rate of inflation or 3.5 percent, whichever is lower. The mandate will be phased...
  • Wind Power 'Success Story' Was a Massive Failure

    06/26/2014 11:33:09 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 17 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/26/2014 | Tom Gantert
    A few years ago, Vice President Joe Biden called a wind turbine facility in Saginaw one of the top "100 Recovery Act Projects that are Changing America." In 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded Merrill Technologies Group a $22 million advanced energy manufacturing tax credit that then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office said was used to buy advanced manufacturing equipment needed to create wind turbine components in a facility in Saginaw. The Recovery Act also gave Merrill Technologies another $3 million. The former governor trumpeted the facility as the future of Michigan's economy that would help create 89,918 clean energy...
  • Michigan vs. Minnesota Report Says Little About What Policies To Pursue

    06/26/2014 8:07:39 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/24/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    A new report from Michigan Future says Michigan should dramatically increase taxes and government spending to become more prosperous. But it represents a classic case of mistaking correlation for causation — while making little effort to prove the case. The study, authored by business reporter Rick Haglund, attempts to show that increasing taxes and spending more money on K-12 education, public universities, preschool, municipal revenue sharing, health and human services and transportation will lead to better economic performance. "It's clear that if Michigan is to regain the prosperity it enjoyed decades ago when the auto industry here reigned supreme, the...
  • State Budget Shifts Extra Revenue Sharing Funds To Detroit

    06/26/2014 5:46:25 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/22/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Fresh off the Michigan Legislature approving a $195 million bailout for Detroit, some elected state officials and the governor are looking to favor the city again, but this time with the statutory revenue sharing. Detroit is budgeted in 2014-15 to receive $140.5 million in the money taken from sales tax revenue, a $4.2 million increase from 2013-14. That’s what is proposed in Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget, which is in committee. By comparison, the city of Flint is budgeted to receive $6.7 million in state shared revenue and Grand Rapids is expected to receive $5.3 million in 2014-15. Detroit has a...
  • Legislators Should Look To Oklahoma To Address Pension Change ‘Transition Costs’

    06/25/2014 1:39:32 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/23/2014 | James Hohman
    The unfunded liabilities for Michigan’s school pension fund increased to $25.8 billion this year. Legislators may feel that there is nothing to be done to prevent these liabilities from racking up, but they’re wrong. They can close the plan and offer new employees participation in a defined contribution plan, where the state cannot underfund benefits. Recent developments in Oklahoma shed light on how they can do this without triggering restrictive “transition costs.” In the face of growing unfunded liabilities in its pension system, Oklahoma closed its pension system to new employees of the state and participating municipalities. The state now...
  • Double Standard On School District Deficits

    06/25/2014 6:18:57 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/24/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The Muskegon Heights School District has been in deficit nine consecutive years, dating back to the 2004-05 school year, according to the Michigan Department of Education. Mosaica Education, a national charter public school operator, ran the Muskegon County school district for two years, but made no progress in ending the cycle of debt and now is ending its contract with the district. This had a few state lawmakers and State Superintendent Mike Flanagan questioning whether the state should hand an entire district over to charter public school operators, according to an article posted on the Michigan Radio website. Muskegon Heights...
  • Grazed and Confused: Detroit's response to goats exposes bigger problem

    06/24/2014 10:04:33 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 19 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/22/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    In the midst of the city going through a bankruptcy, talk of a Detroit turnaround is in the air from Gov. Rick Snyder on down. And while the emergency manager and bankruptcy process are making solid strides toward fixing the city's fiscal mess, it is in the other ways of governing that Detroit needs to improve if it wants to retain and attract residents. This shows up prominently once again in its recent treatment of a group of goats brought into the Brightmoor neighborhood to clear up weeds and unwanted vegetation. It took only one day for officials to evict...
  • Court Upholds Law Banning Automatic Wage Increases For Public Employees

    06/24/2014 7:28:45 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/23/2014 | Jack Spencer
    The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld a law banning automatic wage increases after the expiration of union contracts. A 2011 law banned the practice of salary increases after collective bargaining agreements expired. Before the law, in practice, what was happening was a union contract would lock in raises. After a contract expired, the law required districts make pay increases as if the contract was still in effect, which meant step increases and wages were guaranteed until a new contract was agreed to by both parties. The new law froze salaries until a new contract was reached. Former State Rep....
  • RTW States Lead the Way: More income, population growth

    06/23/2014 7:21:52 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/22/2014 | Zachary Woodman
    During the debate in Michigan over right-to-work, critics commonly incited fear that it would result in lower incomes for Michigan workers. For example, President Obama claimed in 2012 that the law meant "giving you the right to work for less money." As right-to-work is being discussed in other states, including Missouri, the fears about its impact on income are reiterated. The Committee to Protect Missouri Families, a coalition fighting right-to-work legislation, claims on its website that the law "cuts wages and stifles job growth by reducing people's discretionary income. When people have less discretionary income, they spend less, which in...
  • Teacher Pension System Liabilities Increase Again

    06/23/2014 11:26:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/21/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Public school administrators have called the costs for the teachers' pension fund a budget breaker. They won't be happy to learn the costs are increasing. The Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) saw its unfunded liability increase to $25.8 billion in 2013 from $24.3 billion in 2012, according to the annual actuarial valuation report from the accounting firm, Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company. The pension liability in 2009 was about $12 billion. James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the additional unfunded liability is from the low rate of returns during...
  • Low-Hanging Fruit Can Help Fund Roads

    06/23/2014 6:07:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/20/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    An old saying goes, "Those who love sausage or legislation should never watch either being made." The road funding debate now underway in the state Capitol is a prime example, with multiple proposals swirling around Lansing. Currently, rather than trim some fat from Michigan's $52 billion budget and reallocate the money to road repairs, Republicans in the state Senate have suggested reaching more deeply into taxpayer pockets for an additional $1.5 billion. But how to get that done? Knowing the difficulty of passing a massive tax increase in an election year, Senate Democrats have suggested that their votes are available....
  • Union Sends Credit Agency After Teacher Who Stopped Paying Dues

    06/20/2014 4:43:54 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/19/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The Michigan Education Association is following through with its vow to threaten the credit of employees who don't voluntarily pay dues despite their desire to exercise their right under the law and leave the union. Bangor Public Schools kindergarten teacher Kimberle Byrd received a notice from a collection agency for unpaid dues in the amount of $394.20 with the Michigan Education Association listed as the creditor. Byrd said she thought she was out of the union when her union contract expired in 2013. The notice from the collection agency. A new contract with a tentative agreement for teachers in the...
  • Legislature Considering More Transparency For Asset Forfeiture

    06/19/2014 11:36:41 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/18/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    A package of bills that would provide more transparency in asset forfeiture cases in Michigan is being considered by the Legislature. House Bills 5250, 5251, 5252 and 5081 would require law enforcement agencies to disclose the number of criminal asset forfeiture proceedings, the alleged violation of the law and whether a person was charged or convicted, the date the property was seized, a description and value of the property, and a few other details. Michigan has had numerous problems with asset forfeiture in the past, with money and property being seized by police from innocent people. The state has taken...
  • Unionization Case Before The Supreme Court Could Have Lasting National Impact

    06/18/2014 8:30:10 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/17/2014 | Jack Spencer
    The U.S. Supreme Court will hand down a decision by the end of this month that could have significant and lasting effects on organized labor in this country. In January, when the high court heard oral arguments in the Harris v Quinn case, the justices clearly were considering a ruling that would, in effect, give public employees the freedom to choose whether to pay dues or fees to a union without being worried about being fired. The case before the court involves Pamela Harris and seven other Illinois personal care providers (home-based caregivers), who challenged a forced unionization that was...
  • Fears of Right-to-Work Proving False

    06/18/2014 6:25:44 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/15/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    During the battle of Michigan becoming a right-to-work state, opponents predicted doomsday scenarios about what would happen to workers and the state. But in each of the most important economic measures — job growth, income growth and population — right-to-work states are far outperforming non-right-to-work states. My colleagues and I produced a few charts showing the trends. The information is from the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and from the U.S. Census Bureau. In terms of employment growth, from January 1990 to April 2014, right-to-work states averaged growth at twice the rate of their counterparts and made up...
  • How Politics Prevailed With Michigan's Minimum Wage Increase

    06/17/2014 9:35:51 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/16/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Republican control of Michigan’s government didn’t prevent a minimum wage increase and an increase in taxes may be coming to fix Michigan’s roads. That’s left many wondering whether the GOP got outmaneuvered or was painted into a corner to prevent a minimum wage ballot initiative that would have been worse. It was both, combined with plenty of politics, wrote Joseph Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and Michael LaFaive, director of fiscal policy at the Center, in a recent Wall Street Journal column: Careful economic analysis did not lead the Michigan GOP to hike the minimum wage....
  • Legislator Blames 'Shady Bankers' For Detroit's Problems Despite Voting To Double Debt

    06/17/2014 5:54:39 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/16/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In June 2009, the city of Detroit's unrestricted deficit had nearly doubled from the previous year, increasing from $501.3 million to $920.2 million, according to the city's financial audit. The state Legislature responded by approving a bill about six months later that doubled Detroit's ability to finance more debt. Sen. Young At the time, Mackinac Center Senior Legislative Analyst Jack McHugh wrote a blog titled, "Is Another Credit Card the Solution to Detroit's Spending Problem?" State Sen. Coleman Young II, D-Detroit, evidently thought the extra borrowing option was a good one because as a then-state representative, he became a sponsor...