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Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • Incentive Policies Fooled by Job Turnover

    05/19/2015 6:13:13 PM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/14/2015 | James Hohman
    Last month, the Michigan House Tax Policy committee heard testimony about the state’s economic incentive programs. The usual justification for giving selective favors to particular firms was trotted out: Other states will capture these projects if this state does not distribute taxpayer cash to companies and developers. Without special incentives, proponents argue, Michigan is doomed to fall behind. Yet this rationale reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how the economy works. Monthly job reports suggest that Michigan’s economy grows or shrinks very slightly from month to month, but this data hides the massive amount of job creation and job loss that...
  • Fossil Fuel Investments Yield Big Returns for State Pension Funds

    05/19/2015 2:09:00 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/15/2015 | Tom Gantert
    The oil and gas industry has been one of the better investments made by Michigan’s two largest government employee pension funds, according to a recent report by Sonecon LLC, a Washington D.C. economic advisory firm. The report examined the combined investment returns of Michigan's separate pension funds for school and state employees. Together, their investments in oil and natural gas companies gave a rate of return that was 37 percentage points higher than the return on all of their investments. Oil and gas investments outpaced investments in other industries by 43 percentage points. Due to chronic underfunding, both pension funds...
  • Here's How Much Michigan 'Prevailing Wage' Law Costs Your School District

    05/19/2015 5:24:42 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/13/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Michigan’s “prevailing wage” law costs residents more than $224 million each year, according to the Anderson Economic Group. Now there’s a website that brings the impact of that even closer to home. Created by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Michigan, the new site,, lets people learn the cost of prevailing wage mandates for individual school districts. ABC of Michigan, which represents commercial, governmental and industrial construction industries, has consistently advocated for eliminating the state’s prevailing wage law, which essentially requires construction firms doing work for the government to pay union scale wages and follow union work rules....
  • Township Votes Down Wind Energy Project

    05/18/2015 5:50:05 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/14/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Voters in Huron County’s Meade Township have given a big thumbs down to a prospective Detroit Edison wind energy project. On May 5, voters rejected a proposal to allow Detroit Edison to erect up to 48 wind turbines in the township. The vote was 222 to 147, which is slightly more than a 60 percent to 40 percent margin. Special significance might be attached to the election because it took place in Huron County, which has more wind turbines than all of Michigan’s other counties combined. Huron County has recently declared a temporary moratorium on further wind development while its...
  • Local Union Bolts State Union

    05/18/2015 1:11:55 PM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/11/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Clerical workers and classroom assistants at an intermediate school district headquartered in Cadillac have voted to decertify the Michigan Education Association local as their exclusive bargaining unit. The 60 members of the Educational Support Personnel Association of the Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District will form their own independent union, according to the current president of the union local. “This is not an anti-MEA decision,” said Deb Kasza, the president of the support personnel local, in an email. “We would like to have more autonomy and to keep our money to do things for our members and our community. We are proud...
  • Why Unions Hate School Choice

    05/15/2015 11:07:18 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/14/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Conventional public school districts may covet the taxpayer dollars that follow a student when parents choose to enroll their child in a Michigan "public school academy" — also known as a charter school. But that isn’t the only motive behind the intense political campaign aimed at limiting the number of public charter schools, or even shutting them down altogether (see the Abed amendment). Union efforts to maintain the flow of school employee dues might be an even stronger motive. For teacher unions and those politically and financially dependent on them, charter schools represent a significant threat. In academically failing school...
  • Bill Would Allow Local Governments to Post Notices Online Rather than in Newspapers

    05/14/2015 12:45:59 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/11/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Numerous state statutes require that cities, townships, school districts, and counties publish advance notice of events and actions such as meetings, ordinances, assessments, proposed rezoning, and elections in traditional hard copy newspapers. Legislation offered in the Michigan House could put an end to that requirement. House Bill 4183 would, over a nine-year period, end the requirement that local governments post public notices in newspapers and let the notices be posted online instead. Debate over the measure pits efficiency, the prospects of saving taxpayer dollars, and current reading habits against weakening of transparency. The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Amanda...
  • Snug as an Official Bug in a Rug

    05/14/2015 10:58:05 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/12/2015 | Michael LaFaive
    Excessive cynicism can be an occupational hazard of those who pay close attention to actions of legislatures and politicians. Honest debate over important policy issues is important, but political observers can be quite disappointed if they consider everything their elected officials work to decide. For example, on April 28 Rep. Edward McBroom (R) introduced a bill to establish the ladybug as the official insect of Michigan. The proposed legislation does not specify any particular variety, although Wikipedia reports some 5,000 types worldwide. The bill could trigger a Battle of the Bugs on the House floor, because in recent years no...
  • Michigan Legislature Can Pursue Free-Market Agenda

    05/13/2015 6:34:49 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/11/2015 | Michael Reitz
    The 2015-16 session of the Michigan Legislature is underway, and like a new baseball season anticipation and hope are in the air. House Republicans recently unveiled an ambitious action plan that seeks to continue Michigan’s recovery. Many of the proposals in the House agenda are ideas recommended by Mackinac Center experts: Safeguard public employees’ retirement and protect taxpayers by closing the underfunded pension system and moving public employees to a 401(k)-style system. The school employee pension system is $25 billion in the red, while Michigan’s 50 largest cities have an additional $3.4 billion in unfunded liabilities. Stretch public resources by...
  • Detroit Public Schools Gave 8 of 10 Teachers Highest Rating Despite Being Nation's Worst District

    05/13/2015 2:14:34 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 38 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/12/2015 | Tom Gantert
    When Gov. Rick Snyder recently proposed creating a new school district organization to serve Detroit schoolchildren, he cited a “lack of educational success” and “failing academics” and pointed out that Detroit is the “nation’s lowest performing urban school area.” However, the Detroit Public School district's most recent evaluations of its own teachers paint a picture of success in 2013-14. The district gave 8 out of 10 teachers the highest evaluation possible — “highly effective.” Full email response from DPS Spokeswoman Jennifer Mrozowski. Starting with the 2011-12 academic year, school districts have been required by state law to report on their...
  • Detroit Education Overhaul Would Cost Other Schools $50 Per Student

    05/13/2015 10:49:07 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/11/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Gov. Rick Snyder says his vision of new Detroit public school system does not represent a bailout because it doesn’t ask for more taxpayer dollars. But one study says that school districts around the state will have to chip in $50 per pupil, which some superintendents aren’t happy about. Snyder has proposed creating a new “Detroit Education District” to operate all public schools in the city. Alongside of this entity, the current Detroit school district would be retained in a purely administrative role for the purpose of paying off the massive debt it has accumulated. Money to service the debt...
  • Governor's Plan to Fix Education in Detroit May Threaten School Choice

    05/13/2015 7:50:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/13/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to revitalize schools within the city of Detroit has school-choice advocates concerned about potential threats to school choice in the city. Charter school advocates fear that Snyder’s plan creates a bureaucracy with the authority to stop the growth of charter schools or even shut them down if different political leadership put anti-charter board members in charge. The governor’s plan calls for the old Detroit Public Schools to be kept in existence for the administrative purpose of paying off the district’s debt. DPS has $483 million in operating debt and a combined capital and bond debt of...
  • Reasons to Reason: Analytical Thinking is Essential in Policy Debates

    05/13/2015 6:07:49 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Mackinac Center for Public Policy ^ | 5/11/2015 | Thomas Doran
    With so many complex policy issues, how do we decide which are worthy of our support or deserve to be opposed? Environmentalism, my specialty, is rife with policy initiatives that are often based on emotional appeal, rather than well-reasoned articulations of facts. As a boy, I read Isaac Asimov’s science fiction classic “Foundation” series that featured psychohistory and symbolic logic. I was fascinated by how the Foundation applied symbolic logic to political documents and treaties to interpret what was really being said. In one situation, the Foundation reduced the fine print of a five-page treaty to two statements: “Obligations of...
  • Obamacare Exchange: Michigan Dodged a Bullet

    05/12/2015 1:35:34 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/10/2015 | Jack McHugh
    In a news story titled “Nearly half of Obamacare exchanges are struggling over their future,” The Washington Post reports the following: Nearly half of the 17 insurance marketplaces set up by the states and the District under President Obama’s health law are struggling financially, presenting state officials with an unexpected and serious challenge five years after the passage of the landmark Affordable Care Act. Many of the online exchanges are wrestling with surging costs, especially for balky technology and expensive customer-call centers — and tepid enrollment numbers. To ease the fiscal distress, officials are considering raising fees on insurers, sharing...
  • Illegal Strike by Detroit Teachers Shuts Down 18 Schools

    05/12/2015 12:47:56 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 15 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/11/2015 | Tom Gantert
    Hundreds of Detroit public school teachers broke the law Thursday when they skipped school to protest Gov. Rick Snyder’s announcement in Lansing proposing an overhaul of the Detroit public school system. The action caused 18 Detroit public schools to close and more than 12,000 students to miss a day of classes. The action is considered a strike, which is illegal for government employees in Michigan, according to Patrick Wright, senior legal analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Source - Detroit Federation of Teachers website. On the Detroit Federation of Teachers’ website, the union urged all DPS employees to...
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Scene From Fantasia Captures the Spirit of Earth Day

    05/11/2015 10:09:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/5/2015 | Jack Spencer
    Every December millions watch an array of familiar Christmas theme movies — "Scrooge," "A Christmas Story," "It’s a Wonderful Life" and so on. No similar tradition has been established for Earth Day, but if there were an appropriate selection would be The Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene from Disney’s classic movie "Fantasia." As explained below, the mousey parable is a metaphor for what has happened the environmental movement. When Earth Day was created in 1970 the environmental movement advocated practical approaches to real problems. The air and water, cities, rural areas and woodlands were being used as waste dumps. A broad consensus...
  • Auto Insurance Reforms a Good Start

    05/11/2015 8:51:41 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/10/2015 | Dr. Gary Wolfram
    With Senate Bill 248 the Michigan Legislature is attempting to address a number of problems with the auto insurance market in the state. Michigan’s no-fault system creates misaligned incentives, resulting in auto insurance rates that are among the highest in the nation. There is also a larger question of why we treat severe injuries from car accidents differently than we treat the similar injuries from other types of accidents. The unlimited personal injury protection provision in the current no-fault system creates an incentive to provide very expensive care, rather than provide affordable and effective treatment aimed at quickly restoring the...
  • Second Union President Used $200,000+ Union Salary to ‘Spike’ Public Pension

    05/11/2015 5:45:59 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/8/2015 | Tom Gantert
    The former head of Michigan's largest teachers union was able to spike her pension by basing it on a union executive salary rather than her past earnings as a teacher. This special deal means taxpayers are on the hook for part of the extra $100,000 in annual pension benefits. Former Michigan Education Association President Iris Salters draws an annual pension of $140,000 from the state of Michigan. That's in line with longtime educators who reached the top of their profession — from school district superintendents to community college presidents. However, Salters didn’t get her six-figure government pension payout from reaching...
  • Michigan Supreme Court: Pension Reforms were Constitutional

    05/05/2015 12:44:52 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/2/2015 | Derk Wilcox
    On April 8, 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court handed down an important decision upholding reforms to healthcare benefits for Michigan’s retired public school employees. Although it was specific to just healthcare, it bodes well for any future reforms to public pensions in Michigan. In 2010, the Legislature passed a reform that was signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. This law required all current school employees to pay 3 percent of their salaries to fund health benefits for both current and future retirees. This policy contained a fatal flaw — it required current teachers to pay into a fund to...
  • Bills Put Obsolete Laws on the Chopping Block

    05/05/2015 10:53:57 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/2/2015 | Jack Spencer
    There are laws in Michigan pertaining to reproaching someone for not accepting a duel, the playing of the national anthem and using indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar, or insulting language in the presence of women and children. Now there’s a package of bills that would put some of these kinds of obsolete and largely unenforced statutes out to pasture. “I believe it is time to identify and repeal unnecessary criminal statutes and burdens currently in state law that result in over-criminalization and over-penalization of Michigan citizens,” said Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids, the sponsor of House Bill 4248, the lead bill...
  • Fix Disparities in Public University Funding

    05/05/2015 6:00:54 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 5/3/2015 | Jarrett Skorup
    There has been a lot of talk recently about closing the foundation allowance gap between K-12 school districts in Michigan. This gap effectively ranges from $7,251 to $8,099 per pupil. But what about closing the funding disparity among Michigan public universities? The gap is huge: Funding for the state’s 15 public universities ranges from $2,747 to $11,561 per student. The bulk of federal funding universities in Michigan receive is in the form of Pell Grants, which are awarded to students based on their financial need which they use for the school that they wish. Other federal funding comes via grants...
  • 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...