Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • Another School District-Teachers Union Pension Spiking Deal

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

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

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

    06/29/2016 9:47:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 34 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/23/2016 | Derek Draplin
    A vacant lot owned by a Jackson woman was foreclosed by Hillsdale County because she failed to pay a $7 late fee on her property taxes. A Freedom of Information Act request found that Pam Baker, a Jackson resident, owed Hillsdale County $7.70 in interest and late fees for delinquent taxes from 2013 on land she owned near Lake LeAnn in Somerset Township. The 2013 taxes on the property, which she owned since 2000, were due on Feb. 14, 2014. Baker says she paid her taxes two weeks late because she was in a car crash seven days before the...
  • Detroit’s Economic Fortunes Won’t Get a Kick Out of Subsidizing a New Soccer Stadium

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

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

    06/29/2016 5:39:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 38 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/24/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Christopher Douglas is an associate professor and the chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Michigan-Flint, where he teaches a half dozen classes. He has undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and economics from Michigan Technological University as well as a doctorate in economics from Michigan State University. Yet, Douglas has said he would have to complete additional coursework and also pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification to teach at a public high school in Michigan. And he isn’t alone. Ross B. Emmett is a professor of political economy and political theory and constitutional democracy at James...
  • Narrative Trumps Facts When Reporting on Detroit Public Schools

    06/28/2016 1:07:15 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/23/2016 | Tom Gantert
    A Detroit Public Schools teacher who lives in Novi was the basis of an article in a suburban newspaper that inaccurately portrayed Detroit Public Schools as being neglected by policymakers and taxpayers when compared to suburban schools. The article appeared in the same week the Legislature approved a $617 million bailout of DPS, which included $150 million extra for unspecified spending. The article originally appeared in the Novi Hometownlife newspaper, with the title “Separate, unequal: Inside a Detroit classroom,” and then was picked up and run online by the Detroit Free Press. It made several claims that are not supported...
  • Cut Corporate Welfare to Help Balance State Budget

    06/28/2016 11:35:19 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/24/2016 | Michael LaFaive
    Michigan will collect more taxes next year, but not as much as predicted a few months ago, leaving members of the Legislature looking at a sizable gap between what they want to spend and the money available to pay for it. The most constructive and efficient way to balance the budget is to eliminate the state’s corporate welfare programs and supporting bureaucracy. The budget the Legislature enacted for fiscal year 2016 included almost $178 million in six major items over which the Michigan Economic Development Corporation controls. Cutting this would not only help balance the budget, but could improve Michigan’s...
  • Pension Funding: Why Your Town is Going Broke

    06/28/2016 10:29:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 23 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/22/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Just 13 percent of the local governments whose retirement systems are administered by a statewide entity have set aside enough money to pay the pensions promised to their workers. The Municipal Employees’ Retirement System (MERS) administers pension systems for 728 local cities, villages, townships, agencies and more. But only 97 of those systems have adequately funded their pension obligations, according to the operation’s most recent report that covers up to Dec. 31, 2014. Local government employees covered by MERS are owed some $12 billion worth of retirement benefits — but their employers have not set aside enough to cover the...
  • Legislature Makes it More Difficult to Use Inexpensive Car Parts

    06/28/2016 6:33:14 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 26 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/20/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    Right now, if a Michigan citizen goes to get a car repaired, it is fairly simple for the owner of the vehicle and a mechanic to decide what kind of parts to use to provide the fix. Unless a bill that has passed the Michigan Legislature is vetoed by Gov. Snyder, that process is about to get a lot more complicated. There are two main types of auto parts: Those made by original equipment manufacturers (OEM) or those made by other companies (aftermarket). By and large, insurance companies, crash tests and research findings do not find a safety difference between...
  • House Republicans 'No Way' on Detroit School Choice Restrictions

    06/08/2016 11:59:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/6/2016 | Tom Gantert
    In supporting a $617 million bailout of the insolvent Detroit school district last week, Michigan House Republicans defied fierce political opposition by refusing to create a mayoral commission that could have restricted new charter schools in the city. Before the vote, there were allegations that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan tried a power play to pressure charter school operators within the city to sign on to the Detroit Education Commission or become irrelevant. After House Bill 5384 was passed by a 55-53 vote, Detroit Free Press Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson accused House Republicans of taking money for their vote. Henderson...
  • Retiree Obligations, Lack of Cash Hampers Michigan's Fiscal Condition

    06/08/2016 10:32:21 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/7/2016 | Jacob Weaver
    Retiree obligations and cash solvency for short-term expenses are hampering Michigan's fiscal condition, according to a new report. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University recently published its “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition” report. According to the report's fiscal guidelines, Michigan ranks 35th, down one spot from the previous year. The report, authored by Senior Research Fellow Eileen Norcross and research assistant Olivia Gonzalez, reviewed each state's annual audited financial report for the 2014 fiscal year, breaking the numbers into five categories: Cash solvency — the ability of a state to pay its short-term obligations. Budget solvency — a...
  • Freedom for Nations, States and Cities

    06/08/2016 8:55:16 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/6/2016 | Michael LaFaive
    The stated purpose of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is to improve the quality of life for all Michigan citizens by advancing the principles of a free-market economy, limited government and respect for private property. To many people, these seem like abstractions, and to those who believe in a larger and more intrusive state, they are obstacles to be overcome. But as time passes and evidence accumulates, the link between liberty and human well-being increasingly becomes less a matter of philosophy and more a reasonable conclusion based on simple observation (South Korea vs. North Korea) and supported by a...
  • School Pension Debt Grows Again

    06/07/2016 1:08:44 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/4/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Michigan public school districts received bad financial news recently when the latest audit for the school employee pension plan showed that unfunded liabilities had increased again, this time by $200 million in 2015. The statewide pension plan known as the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) saw its unfunded liabilities increase from $26.5 billion in 2014 to $26.7 billion in 2015. The unfunded liabilities were just $12.0 billion in 2009 but have more than doubled over the past six years. The state has spent about $1 billion more on pension payments over the past six years, but it hasn't...
  • Private Schools Cost Significantly Less Than Public Schools

    06/07/2016 7:53:09 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 23 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/4/2016 | Jacob Weaver
    LANSING — Due to their nature as independent, self-supporting institutions, private schools do not disclose data about themselves in a standardized format, which sometimes clouds the public's understanding of them. A new report, though, sheds some light on the private school landscape in Michigan. Rachel White, a doctoral candidate at Michigan State University, gave a presentation on Thursday about her new study of the private education sector. White spoke at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Issues and Ideas Forum. While 601 private schools serving 113,000 students operate in Michigan, little research has been done to understand these institutions. When...
  • Hopeful Medicaid 'Direct Primary Care' Pilot Embraced by Senate, Gutted by House

    06/07/2016 5:10:18 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/6/2016 | Jack McHugh
    Rising costs in Medicaid, Michigan's medical welfare program, are putting a strain on the state budget and crowding out funding for other priorities. When the state decided to allow more people to sign up for Medicaid — encouraged by President Obama's health care law — some officials said the move would save money. But more people signed up than expected, and the projected savings never came to be. Now, one state senator thinks the solution is to cut out the middleman and return to a simpler approach. The approach is "direct primary care," and the latest version of the state...
  • Municipal Revenues Up Despite Arguments to the Contrary

    06/06/2016 11:29:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/6/2016 | James Hohman
    In Bridge Magazine, former state House Fiscal Agency director Mitch Bean writes: In addition to property tax cuts, changes to the sales tax base have reduced constitutional revenue sharing payments to cities, villages and townships (CVT) by $27.3 million in FY 2014 and by $181.2 million cumulatively since Proposal A in 1994. He is not the only one judging that the state’s local government revenue system is “broken.” You might think this is a terrible situation that local governments find themselves in. But Bean’s numbers don’t really tell the whole story about constitutional local government revenue sharing nor property tax...
  • Four Months and Counting for Records from Agency at Center of Flint Water Crisis

    06/06/2016 8:42:33 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/3/2016 | Tom Gantert
    The state agency that has been criticized the most for mistakes and alleged deception in the Flint water crisis says it will take four months before it releases public records requested under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. Generally, government agencies have no more than 15 days to respond to a FOIA request and release the relevant information. They may also require a reasonable fee to cover the cost of retrieving data and processing the request. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality received a FOIA request from Michigan Capitol Confidential on March 30, took the maximum extension, requested a deposit, and cashed...
  • State Data: No Detroit Teacher Shortage

    06/03/2016 12:45:50 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/2/2016 | Tom Gantert
    For the last few years, stories about an alleged Detroit Public Schools teacher shortage have appeared in Michigan news outlets, implying that understaffing is due to low morale and poor working conditions, and has led to classroom overcrowding. But data submitted by DPS to the state of Michigan show the district’s teacher-to-student ratio is lower than the state average and has been so for several years, with a lower teacher-to-student ratio than found in many more-affluent communities. As of December 2015, DPS had one teacher for every 14.53 students, compared to the state average of one teacher for every 16.13...
  • Detroit Bailout's Charter School Restrictions Not About What's Best for Kids

    06/03/2016 9:17:15 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 6/2/2016 | Ben DeGrow
    Legislators may be nearing a final deal on a Detroit Public School bailout package, with a vote possible this week. The sticking point is a proposed Detroit Education Commission appointed by the Detroit mayor that is designed to restrict the expansion of charter schools in the city. The state Senate passed a bill that creates a DEC, but the House left it out of its version. Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter is adamant that a DPS bailout cannot include a clampdown on school choice for Detroit parents. DPS and its allies — including Mayor Mike Duggan — have rallied...
  • History Shows Delayed Adequacy Study Will Call for More Money

    06/03/2016 6:09:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/28/2016 | Ben DeGrow
    Those anticipating the release of Michigan’s education adequacy study learned this week that, once again, they will have to wait a little longer. While the precise detailed findings are unknown, the embargoed report’s general conclusions should not remain a matter of mystery. Last September the state granted Colorado-based Augenblick Palaich & Associates a $399,000 contract to determine how much money Michigan needs to spend in order to provide “adequate” services to students. Our state currently ranks 21st in per-pupil spending but 43rd in math and reading achievement on the nation’s report card. Michigan has been spending more than the national...
  • Detroit Teachers Under Pay Freeze, But Union President Gets Big Pay Hike

    06/02/2016 1:33:25 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/29/2016 | Tom Gantert
    While teachers at Michigan’s largest school district were living under a wage freeze, and more recently hearing rumors of possible payless paydays, one school employee who is also president of the local teachers union got a huge raise. That district is the insolvent and academically challenged Detroit Public Schools, and the union president is Ivy Bailey of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Bailey was listed as a teacher in 2013-14 and earned $70,176. Her salary shot up 31 percent to $91,877 in 2014-15. Bailey’s compensation is listed in a state salary database of employees enrolled in the school employee pension...
  • Taxpayers Should Not Be on the Hook for Stadiums

    06/01/2016 8:55:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/29/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    Sports writer and commentator Bill Simmons is transitioning from ESPN to a new show on HBO. In his promotional, “I Believe,” the never-gun-shy Simmons lays out some of his positions. His last statement is the most notable: “I believe billionaires should pay for their own [expletive] stadiums.” Michigan has a bad track record in this area. State and local taxpayers have coughed up huge for stadiums for the Lions in Pontiac (and then back to Detroit), for the Tigers at Comerica, and most recently for the Red Wings’ new arena. (Well-deserved praise is due for Bill Davidson, who owned the...
  • Money Rolling In, But Cities With Hands Out to Lansing Claim 'Broken' Finances

    06/01/2016 8:07:03 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/28/2016 | Tom Gantert
    A lobbyist organization funded by local governments held a press conference in the state Capitol this week to urge lawmakers to send its members more in state taxpayer dollars. The event took place as legislators are preparing to pass a state budget for next year, and was cast as an invitation to discuss how local government funding is “broken.” Given that message, it may seem ironic that the host city of Lansing collected more tax dollars than it expected for a third straight year and had a surplus. The group is called the Michigan Municipal League, and its members want...
  • Local Governments Cry Poor but Act Rich

    05/31/2016 9:28:07 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/23/2016 | James Hohman
    For over a decade, local governments in Michigan have been complaining they need more money from state taxpayers. A recent push by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans is only the most recent example. That is what they say, but how they act suggests their fiscal complaints are exaggerated. For example, providing post-retirement health care benefits to employees is an expense that should be the first to go if there is a real financial problem. Many local governments in Michigan pay for retired employees’ health insurance costs, a type of benefit that is rare in the private sector. Unlike pension promises,...
  • Bill Takes Away Car Owners' Choice of Less Expensive Parts

    05/31/2016 7:14:21 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 23 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/29/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    Under current law, auto repair shops can use replacement parts made by a vehicle’s maker or an aftermarket supplier. But under a bill now working its way through the Michigan Legislature, customers’ freedom to save money by choosing the less expensive aftermarket parts would be replaced by a mandate on shops to install only original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts for repairs on newer vehicles. "This bill will make our inventory null and void. It will cause people to be laid off. It will raise prices for consumers by taking away their choices, and it will drive up insurance rates," said...
  • High Taxes Lack a Guarantee of Quality Services: See Detroit

    05/31/2016 5:14:27 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/28/2016 | James Hohman
    It is a common trope in Michigan and elsewhere that the path to state prosperity is to have high taxes and quality services, with Minnesota pointed to as the paragon. Yet high taxes do not guarantee quality services, as Detroit can attest. Detroit has the highest effective property taxes in the country, according to the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence’s 2014 property tax study. For commercial property at all different values, Detroit is No. 1 in the nation. For homesteaded property, only Bridgeport, Connecticut surpasses Detroit. Detroit also has the highest property taxes for most values of industrial property. Only...
  • Uber Drivers Tell Their Stories

    05/27/2016 12:27:58 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/26/2016 | Geneva Ruppert
    Ridesharing companies operate in six cities in Michigan and have provided job opportunities and rides to thousands of Michiganders. But they currently operate in a legal gray area, putting drivers at risk. We recently spoke to a handful of drivers for Uber about their experiences and why it is important to establish statewide regulations to protect the service. “Uber saves lives,” said Rebecca and Babacar. Both drive in Grand Rapids and discussed how the ease and convenience of ridesharing apps provide an attractive alternative to driving drunk. But Larry, who drives on the other side of the state, recalled a...
  • Detroit Public Schools' Collapse Preceded Charter School Expansion

    05/27/2016 10:19:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/25/2016 | Tom Gantert
    The James & Grace Lee Boggs School is a charter school in Detroit that opened in 2013, one of 25 that have opened since 2011. That was the year a statewide cap on the number of charters was repealed by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder. The 108 K-6 students at Boggs scored well enough on standardized state tests in 2015 to place it among the 20 best Detroit public schools, including charter and district-run schools. Just 1.5 miles from Boggs is the Detroit school district’s Spain Elementary-Middle School, with 438 students. In 2015, its students scored much lower on...
  • How Forfeiture Should Work

    05/27/2016 7:12:43 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/24/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    The federal government is seizing a historic Detroit recording studio under its forfeiture laws. It appears to be a case where forfeiture may be justified, but provides us with an example to talk about how forfeiture should be used. The Detroit Free Press sums up the case: United Sound Systems may be the country’s oldest independent recording studio and has hosted legendary artists such as Miles Davis, George Clinton and The Rolling Stones. Yet the downtown property on Second Avenue may end up seized by federal prosecutors, who say it was purchased with funding from a known cocaine trafficker. They...
  • Economic Interference Week

    05/26/2016 1:44:51 PM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/24/2016 | Michael LaFaive
    The International Economic Development Council is recognizing its 90th anniversary by promoting what it calls “Economic Development Week,” designed to celebrate its industry and professionals. Yet the act of governments using tax dollars to pick winners and losers is nothing to celebrate. If anything, government development agencies interfere with rather than facilitate economic well-being, particularly when they use targeted tax deals and subsidies. Governments around the United States — and in much of the world — have established countless agencies and programs under the rubric of economic development and job creation. Decades of experience, along with anecdotal and empirical evidence,...
  • State Expects to Take $2.4 Billion More; Media Cries 'Deficit!'

    05/26/2016 11:56:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/24/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Based on recent media headlines, readers and viewers could be excused for believing the state of Michigan’s budget is in crisis mode. It’s not. Over the next two fiscal years, Michigan’s state government expects to collect almost $2.4 billion more from sales, income, business and property tax payments than it gets now. While the increases are slightly less than earlier estimates suggested they might be, even in Lansing a nearly $2.4 billion cumulative raise over two years is considered real money. Yet “budget crisis” is exactly how most media outlets characterized the recent changes in revenue estimates produced by the...
  • Detroit Teacher on Strike Lowballs Salary in Newspaper Story

    05/25/2016 7:00:32 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 15 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/22/2016 | Tom Gantert
    An illegal sickout by members of the union that represents teachers in Detroit Public Schools shut down 94 of the district’s 97 schools Monday. Last weekend, the official appointed to be the district’s transition manager said it only has enough money to operate until the end of the current school year in June. Teacher LaShawn Pope told the Detroit News that she has a master’s degree and signed up for 26 paychecks this year, not 22. “Before taxes, I bring home $1,400 every two weeks, so $1,400 times four checks is what I stand to lose before taxes,” Pope is...
  • School Choice Opponents Pick Institutions Over Special Needs Families

    05/25/2016 5:35:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/22/2016 | Ben DeGrow
    Overshadowed by important debates and competing proposals about the future of education in Detroit, a longshot legislative proposal to give special-needs students access to more opportunities has exposed the priorities of school choice foes. House Joint Resolution B by Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw, would place a constitutional amendment before Michigan voters to allow families of special-needs students to use public funds to support their child even if they enroll in a private school. A favorable vote from two-thirds of House members would be needed to place the idea before voters on the ballot. An onerous provision in Michigan’s state constitution...
  • 'Got Your Back' or Stab It: Union Sics Bill Collectors on Right-to-Work Exercisers

    05/24/2016 12:30:28 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/21/2016 | Tom Gantert
    A leaked memo revealed how the state’s largest teachers union planned to get around Michigan’s new right-to-work law soon after it was enacted. The law repeals the power previously enjoyed by the union to get a school employee fired for not paying it dues or fees. In the memo from December 2012, Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook laid out the union’s strategy: “We will use any legal means at our disposal to collect the dues owed under signed membership forms from any members who withhold dues prior to terminating their membership in August for the following fiscal year. Same...
  • That’s What We Said

    05/24/2016 11:09:44 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/20/2016 | Michael LaFaive
    West Virginia was in the news recently for becoming the nation’s 26th state to adopt a right-to-work law. One product of the debate is that there is new evidence of these laws’ positive effect on workers and state economies. The evidence comes from statistics of various measures of economic well-being. In the run-up to the legislative vote on right-to-work in West Virginia, the state hired economists from West Virginia University to examine the economic impact of adopting the law. The study these economists produced in 2015, called “The Economic Impact of Right-to-Work Policy in West Virginia,” concluded that right-to-work laws...
  • Three Reforms to Bring Down Michigan Health Care Costs

    05/24/2016 9:44:57 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 20 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/20/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    LANSING — The federal government’s involvement in health care policy has grown dramatically over recent decades. But when it comes to how and where health care services are delivered, and who may or may not provide care, state governments still play a major role — one Michigan is performing badly. That's the message from a panel of experts from Michigan and elsewhere recently assembled in Lansing, who offered some specific reforms that would make care more accessible and affordable in this state. The panel of four experts assembled for a Mackinac Center event called “Free Market Solutions to Problems in...
  • Maryland Brewer Tweaks Michigan's Alcohol Regulators

    05/23/2016 1:34:49 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 14 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | May 18, 2016 | Derek Draplin
    Maryland-based Flying Dog Brewery is using money it was awarded in a 2015 case against the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to make a point about free expression. The brewer will create an organization called the 1st Amendment Society to promote free speech and civil liberties after the liquor agency tried to ban the sale of one of its beers in the state of Michigan. A six-year legal battle ended in March 2015 when the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the brewery. The court said the commission violated the company's freedom of expression rights in 2009...
  • Federal Red Tape Costing Michigan Families and Businesses Billions

    05/23/2016 12:06:45 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/21/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    Federal regulations are costing Americans about $4 trillion in lost economic output every year, and Michigan is one of the states hardest hit by the mandates and impositions. That’s the conclusion of a new study from the Mercatus Center, a think tank based at George Mason University, which looked at the cumulative growth of federal regulations from 1977 to 2012. The researchers estimated that if regulations had been held in check since 1980, the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be 25 percent larger today: $20 trillion instead of $16 trillion. That $4 trillion in lost output amounts to $13,000...
  • Let Consumers Use Plastic Bags

    05/23/2016 11:15:43 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 22 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/20/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    A new bill in the Michigan Legislature would prevent local governments from banning or overregulating the use of plastic bags commonly used by consumers. Senate Bill 853, sponsored by Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, would “pre-empt local governments from imposing regulations and restrictions on plastic grocery bags or other ‘auxiliary containers,’ defined as a disposable or reusable bag, cup, bottle, or other packaging.” The bill passed the full Senate recently and heads to the House. Two Michigan counties, Washtenaw and Muskegon, are considering regulations on plastic bags, such as extra fees or a ban. A main argument is that they would...
  • Detroit Schools Transition Chief Says: Restrict Charter Schools in City

    05/20/2016 12:16:19 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/18/2016 | Tom Gantert
    The man Gov. Rick Snyder asked to oversee a governance transition in Detroit Public Schools said that limiting charter schools in the city will be a key to reforming the troubled school district. As a federal judge, Steven Rhodes presided over the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy. Now in retirement from the judiciary, he made the statements about limiting charters in a TV interview, as reported by The Detroit News. Rhodes said he favors limiting parental choice through a proposed Detroit Education Commission. Rhodes’ comments come as school choice advocates already fear that Detroit’s Democratic political establishment is stacking the deck...
  • Fears About State Pension Underfunding Drive School Employees to Other Options

    05/20/2016 10:27:14 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/15/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    For every dollar Michigan school districts budget to pay their employees, 36 cents goes into the state-run school retirement system. Most of this money (87 percent) goes toward catching up on decades of systematic underfunding that has left the pension system with a massive unfunded liability. The system is called the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS), and it is currently underfunded by $26 billion. The potential for instability contributes to thousands of school employees choosing to skip the traditional defined benefit pension and instead take advantage of employer contributions into an optional 401(k)-style account they then own. Michigan...
  • Despite a Setback, Right-to-Work is Advancing Across America

    05/20/2016 5:29:01 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/18/2016 | Vinnie Vernuccio
    On March 29, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a one-line ruling on a case that would have brought right-to-work protections to public employees across the country. The court said that a lower court decision would stand, meaning government unions in non-right-to-work states can still get public employees fired for not paying them. But since the decision was the result of a 4-4 tie rather than a majority ruling, it does not affect the entire country — only the western states covered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case was decided earlier. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers...
  • Contaminated Water Dominates Flint Headlines, But Pension Earthquake Looms

    05/19/2016 4:55:46 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/16/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Contaminated drinking water has dominated daily headlines in Flint, but a looming crisis of a different kind casts a pall over the city’s financial future: A $285 million unfunded pension liability is consuming ever more of the city’s budget. In 2015, Flint paid $20.4 million to cover retirement system costs. To put the burden of pension obligations into perspective, that amount is 42 percent of the city's general fund budget. The financial stress has been growing: In 2010 Flint paid just $13.4 million into this system. The general fund represents just one part of the city’s budget (the water and...
  • Get Uninsured Cars Off the Road Through Reforming No-Fault

    05/18/2016 1:24:55 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/16/2016 | Michael Van Beek
    Owning and operating a car in Michigan is expensive and it’s going to get more expensive soon. Fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees will increase next January. Another cost to driving is being insured, which is increasingly pricey. Having raised the cost of driving by hiking taxes and fees, policymakers owe it to taxpayers to make an effort to bring down the cost of auto insurance in Michigan. The case for reforming Michigan’s auto insurance laws is straightforward: Michigan has the highest average rate in the entire country at $2,738 per year, according to Insure.com. That’s more than twice the...
  • Why Do College Costs Skyrocket Year After Year?

    05/18/2016 10:20:43 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 45 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/16/2016 | Tom Gantert
    Amid an ongoing national debate about college affordability, one of the largest factors driving costs is the expansion of a spiderweb of academic support services. Michigan’s 15 state universities incurred a nearly $123 million increase in their spending on academic support services over the past four years, according to a report from the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency. Spending went from $661.0 million in 2010-11 to $784.4 million in 2014-15, an increase of 18.7 percent in just four years. Meanwhile, tuition and fees at the institutions rose 16 percent during the same period. The report defines “academic support services” as activities...
  • The Evidence is Clear: State Spending on Colleges is Wasteful

    05/18/2016 7:12:06 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 17 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/16/2016 | Jarrett Skorup
    The Michigan Legislature is currently debating how much more it should spend on the state’s public universities. Gov. Rick Snyder and the Senate want to spend an extra $64 million while the House wants to spend an extra $51.6 million. These amounts would increase current spending by 3.4 to 4.2 percent, which is well above inflation. Total state spending for public universities is at $1.5 billion, though the amount each institution receives varies widely. And what are we getting for that money? Not much. Proponents argue that more college spending means more college degrees and a better-educated citizenry, which means...
  • Pension Costs Are Crowding Out Public Safety

    05/16/2016 1:34:14 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 14 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/15/2016 | James Hohman
    A report from the state House Fiscal Agency shows that there has been a steady decline in the number of police officers in Michigan, falling 15.4 percent from 1990 to 2015. The report does not go into why this is, but here’s one theory: Pension underfunding is crowding out government spending, including hiring decisions. Consider that the state police retirement system now costs between 57 percent and 63 percent of the Michigan State Police’s total payroll. It is not because the benefits are lavish. It is because the state is trying to pay for promises that it made in the...
  • Average Teacher Salaries Decline, But Individual Educators Get More

    05/16/2016 7:09:24 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 14 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/14/2016 | Tom Gantert
    According to the Michigan Department of Education, the average teacher salary at the Chippewa Valley school district in Macomb County fell by $3,400 in four years, from $73,495 in 2011 to $70,016 in 2015. However, an analysis of individual teacher salaries suggests that no Chippewa Valley teacher experienced a pay cut during this period, and starting teachers did especially well. The only instructors who did not get raises appear to be those who, due to their high seniority, were already getting the top-tier amount fixed in the district’s union contract — about $90,000 a year. So how can nearly everyone...