Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • Crime, Crime, Everywhere a Crime

    12/23/2014 8:39:54 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 20 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/22/2014 | Michael Reitz
    Three fish nearly cost John Yates 20 years in prison. Yates makes his living as a commercial fisherman. In 2007 he was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. A state wildlife official boarded Yates’ vessel and determined that 72 red groupers (of a 3,000-fish catch) were undersized, issued a civil citation and ordered the fish to be confiscated. When Yates returned to port, armed agents inspected his catch and found only 69 undersized fish. Nearly three years later, federal agents arrested Yates at his home and charged him with violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s anti-shredding rules (yes, the post-Enron Sarbanes-Oxley Act)...
  • U-M Department Chair: 'It's Okay to Hate Republicans'

    12/19/2014 12:42:16 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 22 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/17/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Professor Susan J. Douglas, a department chair at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and Arts, wrote a column this week for the liberal website inthesetimes.com entitled, ‘It’s Okay To Hate Republicans.’ Douglas, who is chair of the Communications Studies program, opened her article with the line, “I hate Republicans.” The article includes a photo of three U.S. Senators who are Republicans, with the caption, “It’s okay to despise these men.” Douglas, whose university pay was $178,786 last year, did not respond to a request seeking comment. “We see this as a free speech issue,” said Rick Fitzgerald,...
  • What are the Real Motives Behind Asset Seizures?

    12/19/2014 9:27:33 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 15 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/17/2014 | Anne Schieber
    “I had a team of people and their only job was to find me money,” said retired Maryland State Police Narcotics Commander Maj. Neill Franklin. Franklin is the executive director of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He now travels the world speaking on behalf of legalizing marijuana. It isn’t that the church-going, former undercover officer is a fan of the drug, but his 34 years in law enforcement have convinced him that the war on drugs has failed and is now mostly a money-making arm for police departments small and large. “At the beginning, we really thought that we could...
  • Detroit Victory Dance Premature

    12/17/2014 12:49:40 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/16/2014 | James Hohman
    Gov. Rick Snyder is touting his handling of the Detroit bankruptcy to media outlets around the country. While the bankruptcy went smoothly compared to other municipal proceedings, there is a difference between emerging from bankruptcy and fixing the city government’s problems. Whether Detroit will be successful remains to be seen. The city emerges from bankruptcy having reduced its debt burdens, including large cuts to its retiree health insurance and to its pension benefits. City debts had been looming to take two-thirds of city operating revenue. While easing these burdens was necessary, there is a lot more that needs to be...
  • 'Let's Make a Deal' Time on Road Funding?

    12/17/2014 11:12:28 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/17/2014 | Jack Spencer
    As the end of the legislative year draws near, motorists still wonder: What sort of changes will the Legislature and governor make in the way the state funds its roads and highways? Political observers in Michigan expect some sort of compromise among competing plans passed by the House and Senate, but the specifics are still lacking. According to projections from the state and University of Michigan economists, under the House-passed road plan – which devotes $1 billion more to roads with no tax hike – school funding will increase from $11.5 billion in 2014 to $14.0 billion in 2023. With...
  • Projections Show Schools Get More Even With Road Funding Shift

    12/17/2014 9:03:46 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/16/2014 | Jack Spencer
    State funding for public schools is projected to increase by $2.5 billion over the next eight years, even if a House GOP plan is adopted that would shift some sales tax revenue from schools to roads, according to a Mackinac Center for Public Policy analysis. James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy for the Mackinac Center, projects that under the House-passed road plan, school funding will still increase from $11.5 billion in 2014 to $14.0 billion in 2023. Without the House plan, the School Aid Fund would increase to $14.9 billion by 2023. The projections are based on an estimate...
  • University Gives President a $330K Raise She Doesn’t Want

    12/17/2014 5:39:45 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 26 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/17/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Michigan State University trustees approved a salary increase from $520,000 to $750,000 for President Lou Anna Simon. The 44 percent base income raise, which also includes an annual $100,000 "retention bonus," came over her objections. “This is not what I requested,” Simon said, according to MLive. “Trustee (Joel) Ferguson and other members of the board were very clear that they were my bosses in this regard and this is something that would be done at their request.” ForTheRecord says: Trustees praised Simon for her “leadership and dedication” and said she “continues to excel on the board-established performance criteria (of her...
  • School Budgets Safe Under ‘No New Taxes’ House Road Funding Package

    12/16/2014 11:14:18 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/14/2014 | Jack Spencer
    When House Republicans passed a version of road funding legislation Dec. 4 that did not include a tax increase, a cry went up that this would jeopardize appropriations for schools and local government revenue sharing. However, regardless of one’s opinion of the overall usefulness of the plan, the plan would not cause school and local government funding cuts. The measure, House Bill 4539, would phase out the 6-percent sales tax on gas and diesel motor fuel sales over a six-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2016. This tax, which is collected at the pump, is used primarily to provide some of...
  • Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws Need Reform

    12/16/2014 5:33:53 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/15/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    A recent CapCon story and video documented the Michigan State Police using civil asset forfeiture to freeze the bank accounts and take the property of two men for months without even charging them with a crime. Forfeiture is a complicated process, but essentially allows for an end-run around what most people see as basic constitutional rights. Michigan should join other states, like North Carolina or Minnesota, in requiring a criminal conviction before assets can be seized. That won’t happen anytime soon, but in the meantime there are other reforms that politicians should consider during this lame-duck period. The bill with...
  • Union Gives False Explanation to Members About Why Executive Salaries Rose

    12/15/2014 7:32:47 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/14/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    In response to a Michigan Capitol Confidential article about higher compensation for union executives, the Michigan Education Association sent a letter justifying the salary increases by making false claims to local leaders. The memo, which was sent Dec. 2 to all local presidents and is reprinted on the union’s Facebook page, says: Yesterday we filed our annual LM-2 filing with the US Department of Labor. The Mackinac Center is reporting ‘huge’ pay increases for MEA Executives. As some of you know, the LM-2 lists every person to whom MEA has written a check to over the past year – for...
  • One Step Toward 'Reinventing' Michigan

    12/12/2014 10:51:22 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/11/2014 | Michael Van Beek
    Over the past four years, there’s been a lot of talk about “reinventing” Michigan. Gov. Rick Snyder and this Legislature have made significant strides toward that goal by improving the state’s tax structure, modernizing education policies and beginning to revamp the state’s regulatory regime. On that last item there is more to be done. House Bill 5951 would embrace innovative ride-sharing technologies used by companies such as Uber and Lyft. HB 5951, introduced by Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Twp., would create a state-based regulatory framework for these so-called transportation network companies. The version of the bill passed out of a...
  • State School Board Cites Funding 'Facts' That Ignore Billions in Spending

    12/12/2014 8:40:48 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/10/2014 | Tom Gantert
    A Nov. 12 memo by State Board of Education President John Austin cited a report issued by a liberal think tank to support the claim that Michigan schools are receiving less money. Austin now says he will "take a look at” the report he cited, which fails to account for billions of dollars that Michigan schools receive. The analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities failed to include about $10 billion of the $19.6 billion from different revenue sources that comprise the annual public school budget. The report also ignores several billion dollars directly from state sources. In...
  • Economists Agree: Uber Benefits Consumers

    12/12/2014 5:28:12 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/8/2014 | Michael Van Beek
    A Michigan House Committee just approved House Bill 5951 introduced by Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, which would create a statewide regulatory framework for transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft. State-based regulations can be worse than locally derived ones, but these proposed rules are reasonable and would make Michigan a leader in innovative transportation services. But how will these services benefit Michiganders? In a recently published report by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, scholars Stewart Dompe and Adam C. Smith make the case that customers with lower levels of income will likely benefit most from the...
  • You are Entering the Government Pension Zone ...

    12/11/2014 1:52:05 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/9/2014 | James Hohman
    Most people don’t understand how government defined-benefit pension systems operate, which is one of many obstacles to reforming the deeply underfunded systems. Part of the problem is that the methods used in pension funding and accounting are very different from anything a regular person ever faces in their own personal finances. For example, people rarely buy a product, including a financial product, without knowing its cost. But projecting the cost of pension systems requires making various assumptions about the future to decide how much must be contributed to meet defined-benefit pension promises. Making a wrong assumption can put taxpayers on...
  • Man Who Speaks Out About Police Seizing His Property Without Charges is Arrested Hours Later

    12/11/2014 9:59:54 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 79 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/7/2014 | Anne Schieber
    A man featured in a Dec. 3 Michigan Capitol Confidential story for being a medical marijuana user and having his property seized and money taken by police without being charged with a crime was arrested at 2 a.m. the next morning by the Michigan State Police within a day after the story was published. Wally Kowalski says he was woken Wednesday to find the police at his door with a felony warrant. He was handcuffed and brought to the Van Buren County Jail where he spent the night in a cold cell without a pillow or blanket. He was arraigned...
  • The Harm of Occupational Licensing Laws

    12/11/2014 5:43:20 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/9/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    LANSING — Several decades ago, Dr. Morris Kleiner was assigned by his boss at the Department of Labor to look into occupational licensing. “What had I done to him to deserve taking on this topic?” Kleiner asked at the Dec. 4 event hosted by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Lansing. But the issue became much of his academic work and is an increasingly important one. Kleiner, now a professor at the University of Minnesota and a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Banks of Minneapolis, discussed why at an Issues & Ideas lecture entitled, “Our Guild-Ridden Labor Market:...
  • Union President Concedes Right-to-Work Lawsuit; Strikes Back Against Workers Who Left

    12/10/2014 7:24:15 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/8/2014 | Tom Gantert
    After a teachers union president lost a legal battle involving forcing a non-union member to pay part of her salary for union-related activities, she responded by publishing the names of all former members who opted out of the union in a newsletter. Under Michigan's right-to-work law, employees can no longer be required to belong to or support a union as a condition of employment. According to Adam Neuman, the former Brighton Education Association member who sued to avoid having to pay part of BEA Union President Ellen Lafferty’s salary, the BEA president also put bright red “I Opted IN” buttons...
  • 'Uncompromised' Liberal Group Takes Big Money From Teachers Union

    12/09/2014 3:48:28 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/8/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan boasts on its website that it doesn’t take corporate money: “No corporate money. Just uncompromised progressive politics for Michigan.” Yet the non-profit group – which criticized Gov. Rick Snyder for so-called “dark money” contributions and has been an continuous critic of charter schools – itself collected $67,000 from the National Education Association teachers union in 2014. The NEA has an intense interest in charter schools because very few of them are unionized, and their growing popularity in states like Michigan threatens to erode the union's funds. When a Michigan parent chooses to send her...
  • Right-to-Work 'Freeloader' Claim Still a Farce

    12/09/2014 9:25:22 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/6/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    In the debate over whether or not people should be forced to pay money to unions as a condition of employment, opponents of right-to-work laws often claim that workers who exercise their rights under the law are “freeloaders.” That is, that they are taking advantage of benefits from union bargaining while not paying their “fair share.” The Michigan Education Association, like most unions, supports collectively representing workers whether they are in the association or not because of the leverage it gives them at the bargaining table. Still, no private organization should have to provide benefits to people who aren’t paying...
  • Property Seized, Money Taken – But No Crime

    12/09/2014 5:54:12 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 24 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/5/2014 | Anne Schieber
    Wladyslaw “Wally” Kowalski is a Ph.D. design engineer who lives in Van Buren County. In September, Kowalski came home to find his residence surrounded by police armed with a warrant. Officers searched the home and then hauled away his power generator and many expensive tools. They also froze his bank accounts, leaving Kowalski unable to pay his bills, student loan installments and taxes. Last November, state police raided the home of southwest Michigan resident Thomas Williams. The rural resident spent 10 hours in handcuffs while officers searched his property. When they departed they took his car, television, phone and some...
  • Outgoing NEA Union President Gets $123,000 Raise as Membership Falls 40,700

    12/08/2014 5:08:59 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/5/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Dennis Van Roekel is going out in style in his final year as president of the National Education Association. Van Roekel received a $123,000 raise in 2014, boosting his annual salary to $429,509 and his total compensation to $541,632, according to documents the union recently filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. The NEA’s membership dropped 40,700 members in 2014, falling to 2.96 million and dipping below the 3-million mark for the first time in nine years. The Michigan Education Association is this state's NEA affiliate. Its members paid $7 million in dues to the national union in 2013, according...
  • Union Executives Take Big Pay Raises While Liabilities Continue to Grow

    12/05/2014 1:06:54 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/2/2014 | Tom Gantert
    While some of its dues-paying members are taking pay freezes, top executives of the Michigan Education Association took salary raises ranging from $13,591 to as high as $48,385 in 2014, according to the financial reports the union recently filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Rick Trainor, the MEA’s secretary-treasurer, had the biggest increase. His salary jumped 44 percent from $109,911 to $158,296. Nancy Strachan, the MEA vice president, saw her salary increase 16 percent from $124,603 to $144,700. Steve Cook, the union's president, had his salary increase 11 percent from $182,698 to $203,144. Gretchen Dziadosz, the MEA’s executive director,...
  • Bill Would Allow Government to Post Legal Notices Online Instead of Newspapers

    12/05/2014 10:09:28 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/29/2014 | Jack Spencer
    A House bill has been introduced that would allow local governments to post legal notices on the Internet instead of in hard-copy newspapers by Jan. 1, 2025. The bill is believed to have a good chance of moving in the December lame-duck legislative session. Under House Bill 5560, local governments would phase-in specified protocols for posting notices online over the next 10 years. These protocols would be more stringent for some kinds of notices than for others. Newspapers, which are already struggling to compete against Internet sites for advertising dollars, have a great deal at stake concerning the legal notice...
  • Myth And Muddle Blocking Pension Reform

    12/05/2014 8:07:17 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/3/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Unfunded liabilities for government pension plans nationally are measured in the trillions of dollars. The mounting debts siphon off a growing proportion of taxpayer money, often at the expense of core government services including public safety. In the private sector many businesses avoided this debt-inducing problem years ago by switching from defined-benefit pension systems to defined-contribution systems, of which 401(k) plans are the best known but not the only example. There’s no quick way out of this fix governments have got themselves in, but they can stop digging a deeper hole by no longer enrolling new employees in the liability-prone...
  • Fewer Prisoners, Fewer Workers – Higher Prison Costs

    12/02/2014 12:29:18 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 12/1/2014 | James Hohman
    Crime in Michigan is falling. The rates of both violent crime and property crime are at long-term lows. Yet this has not translated into state budget savings. The $2 billion Department of Corrections budget has barely budged despite the fact that the prison population has fallen 15.6 percent from 2006 to 2015 – which ought to mean lower costs. With fewer prisoners, there are also fewer corrections officers. The number of full-time equated positions in the department was reduced from 17,782 FTEs in fiscal year 2007 to 14,179 FTEs budgeted for FY 2015. But higher prison worker employment costs and...
  • Liberty, Prosperity and Humility on Thanksgiving

    12/02/2014 9:53:40 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    His letters ^ | 11/27/2014 | George Washington
    By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation. Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form...
  • Job Churn Shows Futility of Corporate Welfare

    12/02/2014 7:10:03 AM PST · by MichCapCon
    Mackinac Center for Public Policy ^ | 12/1/2014 | James Hohman
    Monthly job reports on payroll employment and the unemployment rate hide the massive job creation and job loss that occurs in the economy. This turnover challenges the state’s ability to influence job creation by offering tax money to select businesses to locate their business in Michigan. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan’s private sector created 193,208 jobs in the first quarter of 2014 and lost 179,299 jobs in the same period. The job creation was caused by 40,862 existing businesses adding to their payroll plus the opening of 11,150 new business establishments. The losses were caused by 41,565...
  • Did 'Republican Budget Cuts' Lead to a $51.7 Million Deficit and No Toilet Paper in Schools?

    12/01/2014 12:53:58 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/28/2014 | Tom Gantert
    At the height of the Pontiac School District’s overspending crisis, its deficit reached $51.7 million in 2013. House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel put out a press release in January 2013 with a headline: “Republican Budget Cuts Lead To Lack of Toilet Paper in Pontiac Schools.” Pontiac Education Association Union President Aimee McKeever said the district was poor and not receiving as much money as surrounding districts. But neither claim was accurate. The Pontiac School District is in the news this week after it stated its deficit has been reduced for the first time in the seven consecutive years it has...
  • Detroit Shows that Poverty is Not Stopping Parents from Opting for School Choice

    12/01/2014 5:52:26 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 12 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/29/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The far left Eclectablog repeats what is becoming a recurring drum beat in public education in Michigan – poor people can’t afford school choice. If Detroit serves as an example, statewide statistics show that not only can poor families afford school choice, they often times prefer it. There are 51,083 students from Detroit attending charter public schools, which exceeds the 49,172 Detroit students who attend Detroit Public Schools. And about 89 percent of Detroit charter school students are eligible for free-or-reduced lunch status compared to 82 percent of DPS students, according to an analysis of data from the Center for...
  • Is This School One of the Best in Michigan or One of the Worst?

    11/26/2014 11:30:54 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 12 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/24/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    If you ask the Michigan Department of Education, Covert High School is not a good school. On the state report card from a few years ago, the school ranked in the bottom 26th percentile. But on a new report card, the school 40 miles west of Kalamazoo is the No. 1 ranked conventional public high school in Michigan. The reason why requires understanding the state’s report card and those done by other groups. In Michigan, schools are ranked based on the state’s Top-to-Bottom list, which grade administrators and schools based 50 percent on overall test scores, 25 percent on the...
  • Bill Would Ban Red Light Cameras

    11/26/2014 8:32:12 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 14 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/24/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Legislation was recently introduced that would prohibit communities from using automated traffic enforcement devices as the basis for issuing traffic tickets. House Bill 5921 was introduced Nov. 6 by Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, in response to Senate Bill 1063, which – if enacted – would permit traffic tickets to be issued on the basis of photographs taken by unmanned cameras. “This (House Bill 5921) was a bill we had been looking at doing, similar to the newer driver protections they are passing in states like South Dakota and New Jersey,” Rep. Shirkey said. “They’re going 180 degrees out there, from...
  • Film Subsidy Supporters: Mich. Program a Failure

    11/25/2014 12:49:26 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/20/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    A panel last March at the Milken Institute in California featured several film incentive boosters who admitted Michigan’s subsidy program was a bad call. The panel was centered on what California should do with its incentive program. There were four pro-subsidy representatives: Fred Baron of 20th Century Fox; Rajiv Dalal with the Los Angeles mayor’s office; Kathy Garmezy of the Directors Guild of America; and Kevin Klowden of the Milken Institute. Joe Henchman of the Tax Foundation was the lone opposition. Henchman pointed out that film incentive programs are a “race to the bottom” and don’t create permanent jobs because...
  • Democratic Lawmakers Target School Choice

    11/25/2014 10:53:36 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/21/2014 | Jack Spencer
    In the last five months, Democrats in the Michigan Legislature have introduced 10 bills and two budget amendments that impose more oversight, reporting requirements, regulations, restrictions or an outright ban on charter public schools and the entities that authorize ("charter") them. The bills are part of an escalating battle over the extent which Michigan parents who can't afford or don't prefer private schools can still choose where to send their children to school. The bills come at a time when the number of charter schools in the state has expanded from 240 in 2009 to 303 in the current school...
  • Michigan Paid 'Stupidity of American Voter' Obamacare Architect $481,050

    11/25/2014 8:16:10 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/23/2014 | Tom Gantert
    A consultant considered an architect to the federal health care law who said a “lack of transparency” and “stupidity of the American voter” were critical to getting it passed reportedly received $481,050 from the state of Michigan, and a recently elected state representative said he wants an investigation. Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who created an econometric model intended to project health care spending and costs under different assumptions, along with his team, was granted a $481,050 contract by the state of Michigan, according to the Washington Post. He was paid that to help set up state...
  • State Superintendent Claims Detroit Public Schools Has Dramatic Teacher Shortage

    11/24/2014 1:14:45 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 38 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/21/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In late September, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a press release that there was a “dramatic teacher shortage” causing large classroom sizes in Detroit Public Schools. Flanagan called on businesses, career professionals and the state Legislature to help. A review of the number of teachers relative to the student enrollment in DPS, however, doesn’t paint a picture of a teacher shortage. Detroit Public Schools has one classroom teacher for every 16.65 students, a ratio that is a little higher than the state average but lower than higher performing school districts. Teacher-to-student ratios are not the same as class sizes,...
  • No, the GOP Did Not Win Because of Gerrymandering

    11/24/2014 9:36:19 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 12 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/23/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    In his recent Dome Magazine article, Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network writes that Republicans won the state House and Senate because of “the power of the gerrymander”: As old Joe Stalin observed, it’s less important who votes than who counts the votes. Or, in our contemporary situation, how the votes are grouped to be counted. ...Through the magic of drawing advantageous district lines, a pure toss-up state has been turned into a locked-down Red State government. I guess you have to take your hat off to the mechanics in the back room that pulled that off. But...
  • Michigan Bill Could Give Ride-Sharing an Uber Lift

    11/24/2014 7:46:39 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/21/2014 | Michael Van Beek
    State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw, introduced legislation that would create state-based regulations for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. At first glance, the regulations appear reasonable and have the support of these so-called transportation network companies themselves, as reported by MIRS News (subscription required). Uber and Lyft have faced challenges trying to break into new markets around the country, as each city has its own unique regulations for taxi services. City governments don’t quite know how to regulate these new ride-sharing services though, because they don’t fit neatly into pre-existing taxi laws. Naturally, taxi companies are lobbying local governments...
  • State Can’t Name Any School Closed for Poor Performance

    11/24/2014 6:49:47 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/22/2014 | Tom Gantert
    As charter public school authorizers await details of sanctions State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Flanagan has threatened for poorly performing charter schools, choice advocates are asking why the state doesn't subject conventional public schools to the same accountability. Flanagan has threatened to suspend charter school authorizers’ ability to create more schools if their current ones don't meet performance standards. The Michigan Association of Public School Academies and Great Lakes Education Project claim that no conventional school has ever been shut down for poor academic performance, an allegation that may be hard to verify. On the other side, top state...
  • Michigan Chamber CEO Blasts Film Subsidies as a 'Boondoggle'

    11/21/2014 4:49:38 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 12 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/20/2014 | Jack Spencer
    The House Commerce Committee has approved legislation to extend Michigan’s film incentive subsidy program indefinitely. Senate Bill 1103 was advanced Wednesday on a 10-7 vote as four Republican committee members joined six Democrats in support of the measure. The bill now goes to the full House, where a vote is expected soon. The Republicans who voted yes were: committee chair Rep. Frank Foster, R-Pellston; Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City; Rep. Dale Zorn, R-Ida; and Rep. Gail Haines, R- Waterford. Rep. Foster lost his GOP primary re-election bid in August and Rep. Haines is term limited, so neither will be back...
  • Is VW the First Model for 21st Century Unionism?

    11/21/2014 8:21:22 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/19/2014 | Vinnie Vernuccio
    On Tuesday, the human resources department at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., released a new policy allowing for voluntary recognition of multiple unions at their plant. The company said it would recognize any union that can show it represents at least 15 percent of the employees in the plant. As detailed below, the company will bestow greater privileges upon organizations that prove they represent more workers. These include use of company facilities and meetings with VW’s human resources department and executive committee. On Monday, USA Today reported that UAW hailed the policy “as a vehicle to soon gain representation...
  • Michigan Should Lower the Personal Income Tax Rate in 2015

    11/21/2014 7:51:27 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/20/2014 | James Hohman
    In 2007, Michigan's Legislature and governor hiked the state's individual income tax, extracting more from a struggling private sector in order to avoid government spending cuts. Now is the time to revisit that decision. Tax revenues have grown, the budget is balanced, and this state can afford to be less of a burden on its residents. There is never a good time to raise taxes, but extracting more from taxpayers is especially inopportune at the onset of a national recession, which was the case in late 2007. The state had already lost one out of every 11 jobs from 2000...
  • Bankruptcy Judge Calls for Better Pension Funding

    11/20/2014 12:19:41 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/19/2014 | James Hohman
    Detroit bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes called on the state to address the underfunding of local government pension benefits in his oral opinion. He stated that the state has a “constitutional, legal and moral obligation to assure that the municipalities in this state adequately fund their pension obligation.” A government’s own employees should not be its largest creditors, nor should retirement benefits they have earned be placed at risk, as happened in Detroit. There are a number of current bills that would help local governments avoid underfunding, and the Legislature should consider passing them. When an employee earns pension benefits, the...
  • Charter School Group Warns State Superintendent

    11/20/2014 8:25:33 AM PST · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/18/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Last week the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers sent a letter to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction challenging his authority to suspend charter public school authorizers without first going through the formal rule making process prescribed by the state's Administrative Procedures Act. Charter school advocates said they are expecting Superintendent Michael Flanagan to act sometime this week to suspend charter school authorizers from opening additional charter schools due to poor academic performance. Martin Ackley, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, said they were reviewing the Nov. 5 letter and would respond within the 90 days allowed by...
  • After Right-to-Work Opt Out Campaign, Union Doubletalks

    11/20/2014 5:50:23 AM PST · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/19/2014 | Vinnie Vernuccio
    After an overwhelmingly successful informational campaign where the Mackinac Center’s August Opt Out Project told Michigan Education Association members statewide about their rights and the limits their union tried to put on right-to-work, the MEA continues its attempt to provide inaccurate information to its members and to the public. Regardless of how many teachers and other school personnel exercised their rights during the MEA’s arbitrary (and now ruled illegal) "August Window," the goal of the project was to make sure that every member knew about when and how to exercise those rights. Follow-up August opt-out postcard The second postcard sent...
  • Legislators Block Low-Cost Eye Exams in Michigan

    11/19/2014 11:05:27 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/17/2014 | Anne Schieber
    Starting next month, consumers nationwide will be able to take a $30 online eyeglass exam and get a prescription from the convenience of their home – but Michigan residents will be left in the dark. That's because last spring the Michigan Legislature passed – and Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law – Senate Bill 853, which bans automated eye exam and eyeglass kiosks. Although the company offering the online eye exams doesn’t think the law applies to them, the founder said he doesn't want to take any chances by operating in Michigan. “We're afraid that even if our lawyers give...
  • Wisconsin Wind Turbines Declared Health Hazard

    11/19/2014 8:41:51 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 40 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/16/2014 | Jack Spencer
    In what appears to be the first of its kind ruling in the United States, the Board of Health in Brown County, Wisconsin, where Green Bay is located, has declared a local industrial wind plant to be a human health hazard. The specific facility consists of eight 500-foot high, 2.5 megawatt industrial wind turbines. The board made its finding with a 4-0 vote (three members were not present) at an Oct. 14 meeting after it had wrestled with health complaints about the wind plant for more than four years. Ultimately, the board’s ruling was based on a year-long survey which...
  • Google Doesn't Hit Ann Arbor Job Projections, But Still a Media Favorite

    11/19/2014 6:10:08 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/16/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In 2007, newspapers around the state trumpeted Google’s announcement that it was opening its AdWords office in Ann Arbor. Then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm came down to Ann Arbor for the press conference and former University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and several high-ranking state officials all commented on Google’s arrival. This week, MLive reported that the owner of the buildings Google currently inhabits will be leasing out that space in 2016, raising questions about Google’s future in Ann Arbor. Google was projected to bring in 1,000 jobs within five years of moving into its Ann Arbor offices. A company spokesperson...
  • 2014 Election Aftermath: Unions' bark worse than their bite

    11/17/2014 11:19:13 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/16/2014 | Vinnie Vernuccio
    Yesterday’s election was not so much a referendum on labor reform as yet another reminder that when elected officials protect freedom and taxpayers they do not need to fear the wrath of the union political juggernaut. These reformers winning and opponents losing cannot be easily dismissed as “it was a Republican wave which protected the politicians who took on labor reform.” Almost more striking than what was in the Republican wins was what was not in the Democrat losses. In Michigan for example, the birthplace of the UAW, the state with the 5th highest union membership rate in the country...
  • Bills Would Limit Wind Turbine Lawsuits

    11/14/2014 12:39:17 PM PST · by MichCapCon · 20 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/13/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Industrial wind turbines are supposed to produce electricity. But they have also been producing lawsuits over issues such as noise and the associated negative health impacts they allegedly have on residents. Now there is legislation (Senate Bills 1123 and 1124) that would restrict “nuisance” lawsuits filed over wind turbines. Under the measures, those who operate or own wind turbines would be exempt from such lawsuits if the turbines were found to be in compliance with state and local rules. In conjunction with this; the measures would also require that plaintiffs who did not prevail with their lawsuits would have to...
  • In Great Lakes States, Union Retribution Fizzles

    11/14/2014 7:55:46 AM PST · by MichCapCon · 12 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 11/10/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In December of 2012, in the aftermath of Michigan’s Republican Legislature passing a right-to-work law, thousands of union members from around the state participated in a teleconference where their leaders promised “retribution” against the GOP. One union member wondered if Democrats took control of the Legislature, “Could we shove it right down their throats?” Al Garrett, president of Michigan AFSCME Council 25, shot back: “If we were to change the composition of both houses, where we were the majority and had the governor, no question we would be able to get rid of it right away. … In November of...