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Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • As Obamacare is Implemented, Part-Time Jobs at All Time High

    05/04/2015 10:06:34 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/1/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Part-time employment in the U.S. has remained steady at a record-level 27 million jobs for the last five years, raising questions about how much of a role Obamacare has played in the rise of part-time workers. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, was signed into law March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama. The employer mandate portion of the act states that businesses have to offer health insurance to anyone working 30 or more hours a week. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) considers part-time work to be 35 hours or less. From 1994 to...
  • Michigan's Obamacare Medicaid Expansion Exceeds Costs by 22 Percent

    04/30/2015 12:59:37 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/29/2015 | Jack McHugh
    The Foundation for Government Accountability has just published a report on state enrollments under the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Here’s what the authors say about Michigan: When Republican Governor Rick Snyder lobbied the Michigan legislature to adopt his Obamacare Medicaid expansion plan, he too sold it on the promise of low and predictable enrollment. His office predicted no more than 477,000 able-bodied adults would ever sign up, with 323,000 signing up in the first year. But more able-bodied adults enrolled in ObamaCare expansion in the first three months than the state thought would sign up during the entire year. Despite the...
  • Film Incentive Supporters Ignore the Facts

    04/30/2015 8:14:54 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/28/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    Ken Droz, former director of communications for the Michigan Film Office, responded to an op-ed I co-authored about Michigan's film incentive program. Unfortunately, he levels criticisms and makes claims without citing any facts. The block quotes below are the assertions he makes in a MLive article, and are followed by my response: I have seen and studied all the data published, including that much-cited Tax Foundation treatise and can tell you it consists mainly of ideology driven rhetoric and cherry picked facts to support pre-existing opinions. There are many independent studies on film incentive programs; nearly all find negative economic...
  • Texas Moves Toward Dumping Wind Mandate

    04/30/2015 6:31:41 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/28/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Last week with a 21-10 vote the Texas Senate passed legislation (Senate Bill 931) that would end the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which is a primarily a wind energy (with a certain degree of solar energy) mandate. Wind energy is more efficient in Texas than it is in states like Michigan — not necessarily efficient but relatively more efficient. Texas is far and away the leading wind energy state in the nation and, thanks in no small part to a $7 billion program for building transmission lines for wind from the western side of the state, it has met its...
  • Bill Would Prevent Private Union Employees from Spiking State Pension

    04/29/2015 12:28:41 PM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/23/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Two months ago, Michigan Capitol Confidential broke the story that the Lansing School District had allowed the president of the state's largest teachers union to remain on its payroll for years as part of a “pension spiking” scheme. Last week legislation was introduced in the state Senate to prohibit such schemes. As reported by Michigan Capitol Confidential, under an arrangement with the Michigan Education Association, the Lansing School District contributed $51,976 annually to the state-run school pension system on behalf of union president Steve Cook, and was then reimbursed by the MEA. The deal will let Cook collect a much...
  • A How-To When Changing the Constitution

    04/29/2015 8:15:44 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/23/2015 | Michael Van Beek
    A new study published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy makes the case for a new state-led process for amending the U.S. Constitution. Nick Dranias, the study’s author and president of the Compact for America Educational Foundation, argues that Michigan should join the effort already under way to use this new process to create a constitutional amendment to require the federal government to balance its budget. Gov. Rick Snyder already signed a resolution in 2014 calling for such an amendment to the Constitution, but Dranias writes that that effort likely won’t amount to much. Instead of using such resolutions,...
  • School District Refuses to Inform Teachers They Don't Have to Financially Support the Union

    04/29/2015 6:10:33 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 12 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/27/2015 | Tom Gantert
    The Taylor School District has defied an order from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission that schools post a notice stating that teachers are no longer obligated to financially support the union as a condition of employment. The order, which was issued on Feb. 13, came in response to an unfair labor practice complaint by teachers regarding their rights under the Michigan right-to-work law enacted in December 2012. Angela Steffke is a Taylor teacher who filed suit against both the district and the union. In defiance of the right-to-work law, the district and union entered into a 10-year agreement that required...
  • Will Poll Hurt Legislation Aiming to Give Energy Utilities Monopoly?

    04/28/2015 7:14:53 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/26/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Efforts to return the state’s two major electric utilities, Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison, to virtual monopoly status appear to have run headlong into an obstacle, and it remains to be seen how hard it will be to overcome. Hearings on House Bill 4298, which would eliminate the final 10 percent of generation market competition that the big Michigan utilities have to contend with, had been ongoing. There was a sense the Energy Policy Committee might soon approve the legislation and send it to the full House. Then on April 13, the news media began reporting on a statewide poll...
  • 'Big Oil' and 'Big Wind' Keep Public in the Dark About Wind Dependence on Fossil Fuels

    04/28/2015 6:42:15 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/25/2015 | Jack Spencer
    The news media is at its best when risking the wrath of powerful interests by telling an underdog’s side of a story. When those rare instances arise, the news media stand tall. What seems to increasingly be occurring, however, features the news media misidentifying some entities as underdogs and failing to realize that a charade is being acted out. Examples of this circumstance are too numerous to list, but one of the most intriguing involves so-called alternative energy (which is almost exclusively wind energy) and the fossil fuel (or petroleum) industry. It seems evident that most of what is commonly...
  • School District Has to Spend $1 Million to Improve 'Failing' Academic Performance

    04/27/2015 10:29:31 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/24/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Godfrey-Lee Public Schools had to divert about $1 million from its general fund to cover some of the costs for state-imposed sanctions for what the Michigan Department of Education deemed as failing academic performance by the students at the district's high school. Superintendent David Britten said the state’s grants for the mandates didn’t cover all the costs necessary to execute the improvement plan, and programs had to be cut and class sizes increased. Yet, the high school in the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools received an “A” grade from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy for its academic performance based on state...
  • Collection Bins for Clothing and Used Goods Targeted as Nuisances

    04/27/2015 6:22:00 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/23/2015 | Anne Schieber
    While some charities use collection bins for receiving clothing and used goods, they may also face opposition from local governments that cite public-nuisance concerns as justification for banning them. A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of one mid-Michigan charity that opposed a ban, but it could be some time before Michigan cities back down on such restrictions. “They may find another way to make it difficult, like a permit fee of $300,000 or something like that. We hope that’s not the case and we can work with them so that it is a win-win for everyone,” says Dan...
  • NPR Gets Right-to-Work Research Wrong

    04/24/2015 8:06:53 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/23/2015 | Michael LaFaive
    Mr. Steve Inskeep In a March 27 on-air exchange with David Wessel of the Brookings Institution on the impact of right-to-work laws, you focused on a “single phrase that was mentioned in a news story earlier this week” (transcript here). This phrase was sourced in the NPR story to a 2013 study coauthored by Dr. Michael Hicks and myself. Unfortunately, your conversation proceeded to completely mischaracterize this study. The “single phrase” was this: “Actually, since World War II, income and job growth have increased faster in right-to-work states.” Wessel initially confirmed this observation with his own look at the data...
  • Low or High, Great Lakes Water Levels Always Blamed on Global Warming

    04/23/2015 10:23:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 40 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/23/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Michigan legislators once tried restricting the sale of bottled water for fear of running out. Today, water levels are once again high and rising. Last spring, Great Lakes water levels rose above what’s considered average, based on the brief 97-year period that they have been continuously measured. Since then, the lakes have risen enough to cause the sort of concerns associated with high-water periods of the Great Lakes cycle. Those concerns include disappearing beaches, flooding near waterfront dwellings, menacing waves, and even trouble for rescue teams. Great Lakes water levels rose so quickly compared to other periods that numerous claims...
  • Facts About Road Safety in Michigan

    04/23/2015 6:08:19 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/20/2015 | James Hohman
    According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, the rates of accidents, injuries, and fatalities on Michigan's roads have been decreasing for decades. Improved pavement conditions will make the roads safer, but drivers should feel at ease that transportation is less risky than it used to be. The highway safety office reports that vehicle accidents are at all-time lows. There were 289,061 crashes in Michigan in 2013, when drivers traveled 95 billion miles on Michigan roads. Thus, there were three crashes per million miles traveled. Ten years ago, it was 3.9 crashes per million. Ten years before that it...
  • Union President Tells Women to Join Union to Get Equal Pay

    04/22/2015 12:59:05 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/20/2015 | Tom Gantert
    AFL-CIO President Karla Swift told a group in Lansing on Tuesday that belonging to unions is the way women could get equal pay. One news site headline read: “Swift: Want Pay Equity Working Women? Join A Union!” Except, that’s not accurate, according to figures compiled by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Or at least not accurate in the literal sense that Swift and other speakers at the event have themselves used to frame the issue. When the different skill and experience levels of different workers and the jobs they do are considered it may be that Swift is...
  • If Greedy Employers Discriminate by Paying Women Less, Why Don't They Hire a Lot More of Them?

    04/22/2015 10:05:46 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 17 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/21/2015 | Dr. Antony Davies
    The claim that women make less than men is one of those claims that is true but not in the way that people want you to believe. The true part is that women earn less than men. The untrue part, and this is the piece union leaders would like you to believe, is that women with the same work history, the same educations, and working in the same fields as men earn less than men. The earnings data is quite clear that this is simply not true. What does all this mean? It means that the (very real) male-female wage...
  • Charter School Parent 'Grateful' to Have a Choice

    04/21/2015 9:25:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/20/2015 | Audrey Spalding
    LaTanya Dorsey is a mother who sends her daughter to a public charter school in Eastpointe. Her daughter is on the honor roll and doing very well. Dorsey didn't expect to have a say in where her daughter went to school. “Usually, it's the district that you're in is the school that you would have to attend,” Dorsey said. “That kind of surprised me — that I did have a choice to send her to another school, so I was real grateful for that.” Dorsey said that parental choice is critical to helping students attend a school that is the...
  • Manufacturing Jobs Set to Surpass Government Jobs in Michigan for First Time in Years

    04/21/2015 3:44:44 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 14 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/20/2015 | Tom Gantert
    For the first time in 110 months, the number of manufacturing jobs could exceed the number of government jobs in this state, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of February 2015, the latest period for which data is available, there were 593,300 government jobs in Michigan and 593,100 manufacturing jobs. Employment in Michigan took a beating during the 2000s, said Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, in an email. “Manufacturing was just one industry that was hit hard,” LaFaive said. “Finally after eight long years,...
  • County Pushes Stop Button on Wind Development

    04/20/2015 11:43:34 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/17/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Local officials at Michigan’s ground zero for wind energy are telling wind developers “enough is enough.” Huron County has 328 wind turbines, more than all of the other Michigan counties combined. But it has just enacted a moratorium on any additional ones until stricter regulations for industrial wind turbines can be put in place. “What this means is no turbines for people who don’t want them,” Huron County Commissioner John Nugent said. “The people who want them can still have them as long as it doesn’t adversely affect their neighbors.” At its final March meeting the Huron County Commission voted...
  • Meet Toya Putnam, Detroit Charter School Parent

    04/20/2015 6:29:25 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/19/2015 | Audrey Spalding
    Toya Putnam, a mother of two boys, chooses to send her seven-year-old son to a Detroit-area charter school in Roseville. Though some nonprofit organizations are urging the state to limit school choice in the City of Detroit, Putnam says it is incredibly important for her to be able to make the best educational choice for her family. Shopping around for the best school "wasn't a problem for me," Putnam said. "I don't want anyone else to pick and choose for my kids' future." Later this month, Putnam and her family are moving back to Detroit from Warren, and her son...
  • Union: No Photo Needed to Vote, but Bring ID If You Want to Leave the Union

    04/20/2015 6:12:53 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/18/2015 | Tom Gantert
    In April of 2012, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) condemned laws requiring an individual to have a photo identification to vote in local, state and federal elections. “Eleven percent, or over 21 million, of American citizens do not possess a government-issued photo ID,” an IBEW article stated when discussing the argument that photo ID laws suppress voting. The union pointed the finger at “the ultraright” for pushing for photo identification as a requirement to vote. However, the same union has no problem demanding a photo ID for something as simple as a member wanting to leave it. Ryan...
  • Detroit Charter School Parents: Don’t Take Away Our Freedom to Choose

    04/17/2015 9:04:08 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/16/2015 | Anne Schieber
    Educational choice in Detroit is worth the fight. That's the message from 11 Detroit-area families whose children attend charter schools and spoke to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy about a proposal to limit public charter schools in the city. The Mackinac Center met with the families at their homes and at schools so they could publicly share their views on school choice. “Let them flourish,” said Corey Hughes, who has had experience with charter schools first as a father and now as a grandfather. A coalition of foundations, public school officials and other interests has proposed centralizing control of...
  • Natural Gas to Wind Energy: You're Nothing Without Me

    04/17/2015 7:51:53 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/16/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Wind energy in Michigan is approximately two-thirds fossil fuels (predominantly natural gas) used in a less than efficient way, coupled with one-third wind. Most people are unaware of that reality and misinformation flourishes as a result. Case in point: a new study claims to provide comparisons between wind and natural gas by treating them as if they were two totally separate and distinct forms of energy generation. The University of Michigan and Lansing-based consulting firm 5 Lakes Energy are touting a joint study based on a “model” produced at the university. The stated purpose of the study is to provide...
  • Love it or Hate it, Voters are Aware of Tax Hike Proposal

    04/16/2015 1:37:27 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/15/2015 | Jack Spencer
    If either side in the battle over the Proposal 1 sale tax increase on the May 5 ballot is hoping for an unusually low voter turnout they're likely to be disappointed. A poll commissioned by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy shows that the number of Michigan voters aware of and planning to vote on the measure is substantial. “It’s clear that a lot of people are interested in the upcoming election, and very few of those who are interested have made a conscious decision not to participate,” said Mark Grebner, president of Practical Political Consulting, which conducted the poll....
  • Law that Made School Employees Pay More for Health Insurance Saved $1.3 Billion

    04/16/2015 6:42:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/14/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Statewide caps on government employee health insurance have saved Michigan public school districts a total of $1.3 billion since the 2010-11 school year, according to an analysis done by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The caps were implemented by a 2011 law. Districts spent $1.91 billion on employee health insurance in 2010-11, the year before Gov. Rick Snyder signed the new law. It imposed either a “hard cap” on how much schools could spend on health insurance, or required employees to pay at least 20 percent of the premiums. The cost to school districts has dropped each year since,...
  • There Was Never a $470 Per Pupil Education Funding Cut in Michigan

    04/16/2015 5:01:54 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/15/2015 | Tom Gantert
    This year, the Huron Valley School district in Oakland County will get $7,126 per student under the state of Michigan’s “foundation allowance” funding formula. Foundation allowance money is the main revenue stream flowing into Michigan public schools each year, but by no means is it the only one. For example, Huron Valley will get another $12.4 million from the state, or $1,293 per student, in so-called “categorical” funding. This money covers things like employee pension benefits, special education, school lunch subsidies and even a program to teach students how to build a robot in six weeks. These “categoricals” add an...
  • So What Happens if the May 5 $2 Billion Tax Hike Fails?

    04/15/2015 2:12:35 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/13/2015 | Tom Gantert
    While the impending May 5 election hasn’t quite kept the Legislature in a complete holding pattern so far this year, it can be said Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers have been toiling beneath its shadow. Approval or rejection of Proposal 1 by Michigan voters will likely set the stage for much of what happens in state government for the balance of 2015. Meanwhile, with the Legislature out of town for its annual spring break, Michigan Capitol Confidential asked some Lansing political observers about Proposal 1 and other topics. Q. If Proposal 1 — the $2 billion sales tax hike that...
  • Hooray for Michigan Governor on Occupational Licensure

    04/15/2015 12:33:06 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/12/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    Gov. Snyder recently sent a letter to Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof explaining some of the problems of occupational licensure. The governor summarizes some of the good work the Legislature has done, and outlines the principles he'll use in "determining whether to support any legislation providing for additional occupation regulation.” Below are these principles: There must be a substantial harm or danger to the public health, safety, or welfare as a result of unregulated practice, which will be abated through licensure. The practice of the occupation must require highly specialized education or training. The...
  • What if it Were April Fools' Day Year Round?

    04/15/2015 10:31:33 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/14/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Considering the craziness of the modern world, April Fools' Day might be the most underrated date on the calendar. At least on that one day of the year, when people say misleading things or tell fibs they quickly explain that it was only a joke by announcing: “April Fools.” It could be of benefit to broaden that concept and apply it retroactively to cover utterances, misinformation and missteps of the past, as well as ongoing hypocrisy. Spiking several punch bowls with truth serum would be a helpful touch, too. If we could somehow pull that off, the following is what...
  • Coalition's Vision for Detroit: More Bureaucracy; Less Innovation

    04/15/2015 9:12:14 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/12/2015 | Audrey Spalding
    A Detroit coalition has released its long-awaited recommendations on education policy for Detroit. Though the coalition characterizes its recommendations as a way to improve the "education landscape" for all Detroit students, the coalition's main apparent goal is preserving the institution of Detroit Public Schools. DPS Bailout: To that end, the coalition recommends that taxpayers from the rest of the state pay off some of DPS' debt, take on some of DPS' employee retirement costs, increase school funding and remove the district's emergency manager to hand back control to a local school board. The coalition does not mention how much all...
  • New State Tax Payment System Causing Headaches for Businesses

    04/15/2015 7:55:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/11/2015 | Anne Schieber
    Michigan business owners are running into problems with the state’s new online system for filing sales, use and payroll taxes, and some are worried that if they can’t make timely payments, they will be stuck with fines and interest charges. Asked if the state would waive penalties, Michigan Department of Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton said the “penalty and interest waiver will be accomplished systematically on a case-by-case basis.” The Treasury Department has also changed its stand on mail-in tax payments. Before the system went online, businesses were told the electronic system was mandatory. Now, Treasury is only requiring it for...
  • Let Detroit Students Attend School Anywhere They Want

    04/14/2015 11:06:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/11/2015 | Tom Gantert
    In 2009, students in Detroit Public Schools posted the worst test scores ever measured on a national test. “There is no jurisdiction of any kind, at any level, at any time in the 30-year history of NAEP that has ever registered such low numbers,” said Michael Casserly, then the executive director of the council that administered the assessment. “They are barely above what one would expect simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers.” Since then, charter schools have flourished in the city and more than half of Detroit's students attend them. A recent study from...
  • Coalition Wants $153 Million a Year Bailout for Detroit Public Schools

    04/14/2015 6:30:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 14 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/11/2015 | Tom Gantert
    A coalition hoping to restructure the Detroit Public School district is asking the state to absolve the district of as much as $153 million in annual pension and debt payments. John Rakolta, CEO of Walbridge construction company, is a co-chair of Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, and laid out to Michigan Capitol Confidential how the group came up with their calculations. The coalition’s report states: “The state of Michigan should take responsibility for past operating debt that occurred on its watch: $53 million a year." In addition, the group wants the state to let Detroit schools off the...
  • Here are the Highest Paying School Districts in Michigan

    04/14/2015 5:24:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/10/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    In 2013-14, the highest paid teachers in the state on average were from Redford Union Schools in Wayne County. They made $86,675 a year, according to the Michigan Department of Education. However, data cited by the state on teachers' salaries isn't always accurate. For example, teachers in Detroit public schools whose management had been turned over to a state Education Achievement Authority office (EAA) – a “school district” comprised of the poorest-performing schools in Michigan – were the state's second-highest paid, according to data released in March by the Michigan Department of Education. Except, the reported figures were almost certainly...
  • Bottom Line Will Tell How Effective House Republicans are at Limiting Government

    04/13/2015 5:37:40 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/11/2015 | Jack Spencer
    A committee of the Republican-controlled House eliminates the proposed appropriation for film subsidies, slashing it from $38 million to zero. The same panel cuts the proposed budget for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation by 13 percent, which would save the state another $16.7 million. It is the early stage of the state budget process, a time of year when we can expect headlines and news accounts about House Republicans cutting big-government spending down to size. The regular news media have little choice in covering the budget. Articles and reports pretty much need to be presented with a “just what happened...
  • House Republicans Consider Repealing Outdated Crimes

    04/13/2015 11:45:34 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/12/2015 | Michael Reitz
    Yesterday the House Committee on Criminal Justice heard testimony on a package of bills that would amend or repeal several archaic laws. Among the laws under consideration are criminal prohibitions on participating in walkathons, playing “The Star‑Spangled Banner” as part of a medley, using “reproachful” language and selling dyed baby chicks and rabbits. The hearing was covered by the Detroit Free Press and A study published by the Mackinac Center and Manhattan Institute found that Michigan has more than 3,100 criminal prohibitions in statute. The study identified numerous criminal laws that could be either repealed or amended to reduce...
  • Proposal Will Cost Average Michigan Household Up to $525 a Year in Extra Taxes

    04/13/2015 10:39:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/11/2015 | Jack Spencer
    The average household in Michigan will pay as much as $525 more in taxes in 2016 if Proposal 1 is approved by voters on May 5, according to a study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The study estimated that increasing the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent would cost a typical Michigan household $389 and the change in the fuel tax would cost between $88 and $136. “Policymakers chose to fix the roads with a tax hike instead of budget cuts,” said James Hohman, the author of the study and the assistant director of fiscal policy...
  • Poor Cities' School Districts Receive the Most Funding

    04/13/2015 9:09:56 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/5/2015 | Tom Gantert
    The city of Flint has more than twice the percentage of people living in poverty as the state average. And Flint Community Schools has been running a deficit since 2010-11. But poor cities such as Flint don't necessarily translate into poorly funded school districts. Flint schools isn't losing money because of a revenue problem. According to the Michigan Department of Education, Flint received a total of $13,127 in total per-pupil revenue in its general fund (local, state and federal dollars) in 2013-14, making it the highest-funded district in Genesee County. The chart shows each district's general fund per-pupil funding received...
  • State's Tourism Agency Sees Tourism-Boosting Lodging Service as a 'Threat'

    04/13/2015 8:03:43 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/11/2015 | Tom Gantert
    “Victoria of East Lansing” describes herself as a postdoctoral scholar who opened up her home to travelers as a way to pick up some supplemental income. She never considered such a thing before hearing about Airbnb, which describes itself as “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.” Founded in 2008, Airbnb is analogous to the better known “Uber” and “Lyft” ride-sharing apps, which connect individuals who need to get somewhere with others who have a car and want to earn money. This service does the same for homeowners with an extra...
  • A $46,000 Spread in the Cost of Tuition Per Degree at Michigan Universities

    04/10/2015 11:26:50 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/7/2015 | Richard Vedder
    Most Michigan residents would guess that the University of Michigan’s flagship campus in Ann Arbor is easily the most expensive of the 15 public universities in the state. After all, a student enrolled there for 15 credit hours typically pays more than $14,000 in annual tuition, compared to less than $9,500 at Northern Michigan University or Eastern Michigan University. But those numbers are often deceiving, because tuition varies with whether a student takes lower- or upper-division courses and, at many schools, with the number of credit hours taken during an academic term. Some schools are also generous with tuition discounts...
  • State Superintendent Puts Failing Schools Ahead of Students' Choice

    04/10/2015 10:41:45 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/8/2015 | Tom Gantert
    In 2014, there were 35 public high schools in Detroit, 20 of them “conventional” public schools and 15 charter schools. Of the 20 conventional schools, all but two earned an “F” on the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s student progress grading system, which unlike official state ratings take into account the effect of student family backgrounds on performance. In contrast, only two of the city’s 15 public charter high schools received a failing grade. Nevertheless, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says the Legislature should impose a moratorium on opening any more charter schools, so that conventional school districts like Detroit can...
  • Weak Membership Growth Shows Need for New Union

    04/10/2015 5:16:41 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 15 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/8/2015 | Vincent Vernuccio
    Unions continue their struggle to attract new members, according to a recent review by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationally, membership in 2014 was down to only 11.1 percent of workers, while Michigan saw a 7.6 percent decline in membership. Why have unions been in decline and why are they not growing along with the rest of the economy? It may be because they are no longer offering services in a model that workers want. It could also be that the services they do offer are forced upon both employers and employees. As modern unions evolve away from compulsion, they...
  • Mayor Hates the Frackers, Loves Their Money

    04/09/2015 12:41:35 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/8/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell has become a hero to the global warming movement with his anti-oil comments. The mayor has said, “Our planet is sick and it is we who have infected it.” In a January speech, Heartwell called for an end to hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) and said he would ask the county and governor to do the same. However, Heartwell appears to have no problem with taking money collected from oil companies for using hydraulic fracturing when drilling on state land to fund city government spending. MLive reported that Grand Rapids plans to request a...
  • Deficit-Ridden District Almost Demolishes Building Rather Than Take $3.5 Million From Charter

    04/09/2015 10:56:03 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/10/2015 | Tom Gantert
    The Saginaw Public School district has been operating with a deficit since the 2010-11 school year, and the proposed sale of a shuttered school building could erase the red ink, according to the Michigan Department of Education. Rather than sell the building to an interested party— a charter school — the Saginaw school board originally elected to demolish it. However, after months of effort, the board had a change of heart and approved the deal. On Thursday, the Saginaw district board accepted a $3.5 million offer from the Francis Reh Academy to purchase the Phoenix Science and Technology Center, which...
  • Three Reasons Why Michigan Should End Film Incentives

    04/09/2015 9:47:52 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/7/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    The Michigan House recently passed House Bill 4122 which would end the state’s film incentive program. The legislation now moves on to the Senate. But Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, has raised concerns about ending the subsidy. And Gov. Rick Snyder, who previously proposed eliminating the subsidies, now says he doesn’t believe ending the program abruptly is an “appropriate answer.” So those are the obstacles standing in the path of terminating payouts to Hollywood. The good news is that it is believed most Michigan Senators want to end the subsidies. There may end up being an agreement between...
  • Will Michigan GOP Continue Michael Moore Film Subsidies?

    03/30/2015 1:10:46 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/29/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    In 2011, left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore sat on the advisory council for the Michigan Film Office. The office is in charge of determining what productions will receive the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been sent from state taxpayers to mostly out-of-state moviemakers since 2008. So perhaps it should not be surprising to learn that Moore himself – with a reported personal net worth of $50 million – was able to grab taxpayer money to cover some of the costs for his 2009 film “Capitalism: A Love Story” (which criticized the well-connected for taking taxpayer money). As previously reported...
  • Excise Tax Hike on Cigarettes Irrational Choice for Washington

    03/30/2015 8:33:09 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/16/2015 | Michael LaFaive
    The Washington Legislature appears again poised to go to the cigarette excise tax well. A proposal to hike the state’s excise tax by another 50 cents — to $3.52 per pack — would exacerbate an already large smuggling problem and offer little in the way of gains to public health. We have created a statistical model to measure the degree to which cigarette smuggling occurs in most American states. Through 2013, our model reported that Washington had the third-highest smuggling rate among 47 states. Our estimate shows that, of all the cigarettes consumed in Washington that year, 46.4 percent were...
  • National Study: Detroit Charters Should Serve as a Model for Other Communities

    03/30/2015 6:01:24 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/28/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Detroit schoolchildren in charter schools are getting a better education in reading and math than students in the city's conventional public schools according to a report released Wednesday by an organization described as the “nation’s foremost independent analyst of charter school effectiveness.” The authors suggest that Detroit charter schools should serve as a model for other communities. The study was performed by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), which analyzed student and school data from 2006 through 2012. It found that each year students in Detroit charter schools receive the equivalent of a few weeks to as...
  • Republican Bill Package Would Eliminate Energy Choice

    03/27/2015 5:15:33 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/23/2015 | Jack Spencer
    A legislative package sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, would bring significant changes to Michigan’s electricity market. The provision drawing the most attention repeals the only remaining piece of a 2000 reform led by then-Gov. John Engler, which ended the monopoly status of Michigan's largest electric utilities. Under that reform, known as “Energy Choice,” customers could buy their power from an alternative generator, while the power lines through which the juice flows remained a regulated monopoly. Not surprisingly, the state’s two large utilities, Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison, were not pleased, and never stopped pressuring lawmakers to...
  • Community College Secretaries Secede From the State's Largest Teachers Union

    03/26/2015 8:41:35 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/22/2015 | Anne Schieber
    After months of legal wrangling, the votes are in. Secretaries at Grand Rapids Community College have chosen to decertify the Michigan Education Association local and form their own union. Out of 95 members, 40 voted in favor of the new union, the Alliance of Professional Support Staff, while 28 voted to stay with the MEA and 3 chose no union. “We are free,” said election organizer, Penni Weniger. This is the second time in 15 months that a group of employees at a state college or university has broken ranks with the MEA. The first defection involved over 300 technology...