Free Republic 2nd Quarter Fundraising Target: $85,000 Receipts & Pledges to-date: $18,755
22%  
Woo hoo!! And the first 22% is in!! Thank you all very much!!

Articles Posted by MichCapCon

Brevity: Headers | « Text »
  • Obama Drops a Minimum Wage 'Stink Burger' On Michigan

    04/15/2014 1:26:35 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/13/2014 | Vinnie Vernuccio
    Using catchy sound bites like "give America a raise," President Obama ignores volumes of research showing that his demand to increase the minimum wage will be a jobs killer. Nevertheless, the president came to Michigan last week and campaigned for raising the cost of providing the jobs that millions of young people need to gain entry into the workforce, or that provide supplemental income for many families. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that under the president's plan, 500,000 of these jobs would probably disappear, and possibly as many as 1 million. Vernuccio Last month, more than 500 economists signed...
  • Reuben Sandwich With A Side Of 500K Lost Jobs

    04/15/2014 9:18:41 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/11/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Last week, President Barack Obama visited Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor in a self-professed politically motivated press stop. The president is pushing to raise the national minimum wage. Zingerman's co-owner, Paul Saginaw, went to Washington, D.C., in January to lobby for an increased minimum wage. So what was reported about the president's visit to Ann Arbor? Paragraphs of detail on the $14 Reuben sandwich the president ate. What wasn’t reported? That the reason for the visit — to promote increasing the minimum wage — will reportedly result in the loss of around 500,000 jobs, according to a report from the...
  • Cities Increase Fees, Spend More While Complaining About State Shared Revenue

    04/15/2014 5:46:23 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/10/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Fire inspection fees in Ann Arbor have increased 590 percent since 2003, and inspections are happening more often now. The reason, said Ann Arbor Fire Marshal Reka Farrackand, is in "the interest of public safety as well as to comply with city ordinance." Commercial property inspections cost business owners $690 in 2013, up from $100 in 2003. The increase in cost made news when one business property owner refused to let the city inspect his buildings, according to MLive. Ann Arbor, like many cities in Michigan, has seen its state shared revenue decrease, and while that has been widely reported,...
  • Corporate Welfare for New Detroit Arena Won't Spur Economic Development

    04/14/2014 8:41:35 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/11/2014 | Dr. Chris Douglas
    The idea that the proposed new Red Wings arena will revitalize midtown Detroit is the reason given for the $260 million in corporate welfare that will help finance the project. The idea that a new sports arena will spur economic development, however, lacks credibility. An NHL season only has 41 home games, meaning the arena is closed for the most of the other 324 days of the year with the exception of some concerts or other special events. Not much development can take place around a facility that is closed nearly 90 percent of the year. Take the Palace of...
  • Draconian Traffic Fee Law Moving Toward The Chopping Block

    04/11/2014 6:05:08 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/8/2014 | Jack Spencer
    A government money grab that's been operating under the guise of public safety might soon be ended. Legislation to scrap Michigan's "driver responsibility fees" has overwhelming support in the Legislature. In 2003, state lawmakers passed a bill that assessed "driver responsibility fees" in an effort to bring in additional revenue. The move was thinly veiled as a measure to ensure drivers were operating vehicles safely. However, the fees often go beyond simply assigning stiffer penalties for unsafe driving practices. In many instances they pile on costs that individuals don't have the ability to pay. What's more, under certain circumstances they...
  • Medicaid Expansion Studies Weren't Trustworthy

    04/11/2014 12:25:14 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/9/2014 | Jack McHugh
    It may be water over the dam, but one report on the potential impact to employers if Michigan did not adopt the Obamacare Medicaid expansion has been exposed as being essentially bunk due to flagrant misuse or misrepresentation of the data it cited. This is worth noting because the claims from Jackson Hewitt were widely cited by Republican lawmakers here who supported the expansion, and probably tilted others into that camp. Its conclusion was that "employers may pay substantially higher federal tax penalties under the ACA (Affordable Care Act) in states that do not expand Medicaid." Jackson Hewitt estimated Michigan...
  • School Union Contracts Across The State Retain Clauses Calling For Hiring Based On Race

    04/11/2014 8:23:00 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/8/2014 | Tom Gantert
    At least five public school districts have language in their union contracts that could be in violation of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which was passed in 2006 and bans discrimination in hiring based on race at public institutions. Some school districts, such as Ann Arbor, have tweaked the language in prior contracts and now claim the revised language is legal. Others such as Kalamazoo say the contract language is constitutional because it must be read in conjunction with a federal court desegregation order. And then there's Oak Park, which states the district wants to increase the number of racial...
  • Teachers Union Misleading Voters

    04/11/2014 6:44:01 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/7/2014 | Audrey Spalding
    The Michigan Education Association has unveiled a new website that uses misleading information to try to make the case for more education funding. Education spending is becoming an increasingly central issue to this year's gubernatorial campaign, and as a result, misinformation is rampant. Under the catchphrase, "Kids Not CEOs," the MEA alleges that millions have been cut from public school budgets. But this allegation is not based on fact. The MEA's website ignores billions of dollars provided by state taxpayers to support public schools. Unfortunately, the MEA is manipulating the misperception that the state foundation allowance is the total amount...
  • Mystery Project Almost Got $5.5 Million From Taxpayers

    04/10/2014 1:43:24 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/8/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Few details are known about the P20 Pyramid project slated for Kent County, yet all but two Senate Republicans voted for it twice and it nearly received $5.5 million in funding from the state. Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, pushed for the funding, but has been silent about his efforts. Most recently, Gov. Rick Snyder walked away from the idea of giving the project taxpayer money. Described as a "public/private partnership, Pyramid P20 education hub," the project was promoted as a way to increase the number of students in Michigan who would be proficient in high-tech STEM (science, technology, engineering...
  • A Better Way to Protect Detroit Pensioners

    04/10/2014 11:37:27 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/7/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    Recent press accounts describe the potential for steeper pension cuts for Detroit retirees if they reject a bankruptcy proposal made in February, and instead accept a new plan that, among other things, would insulate works in the city's art museum from potentially being sold off to satisfy both pensioners and creditors. The amended plan would also require a partial state bailout of the city. LaFaive Pensioners and residents would do better if Detroit took a more aggressive approach to selling assets, contracting out some services and eliminating others that are "nice to haves" rather than "need to haves." The best...
  • Superintendent Says District Worse Off Despite Getting More Overall State Money

    04/10/2014 5:56:30 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/8/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The Kalamazoo Public Schools get about $53 more per student in state funding this year than the district received in 2010-2011. Yet Michael Rice, the district's superintendent, said in a recent column in Bridge Magazine that the Kalamazoo schools and others across the state were better off three years ago. Rice, like others asking for more money from the state, makes the case in his column that funding has decreased because some schools receive less money today from the state's foundation allowance. The foundation allowance is a base per-pupil dollar amount that schools receive, but is just part of the...
  • Right-to-Work States See Larger Gains

    04/09/2014 10:26:24 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/5/2014 | James Hohman
    The 2013 state personal income data was released recently and it has some good news for Michigan. The state had the 9th best performance among the states from 2012 to 2013. While it's unclear how much of a role the passage of the right-to-work law had in the performance, it is worth a look at the trends between states with a right-to-work law and those without one. In both personal income and in population growth, right-to-work states clearly have an advantage. From 2012 to 2013, right-to-work states grew their personal incomes by 2.8 percent and their populations by 0.9 percent....
  • Taxpayer Representation Missing From Assessor Review Panel

    04/09/2014 8:12:39 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/6/2014 | Anne Schieber
    In Michigan, if you have a complaint against a tax assessor, you must present your case to a panel of three volunteers representing the government — but none for the taxpayer. "There would likely be limited benefit in having a taxpayer on the committee," said Department of Treasury Spokesperson Terry Stanton. "They would not likely have the expertise to determine whether an assessor had committed malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance." Tell that to James Kress, a property owner who has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry and has had enough run-ins with his local assessment department to tell whether he's being treated...
  • State Rep: School Districts Willfully Violating Law Should Face 'Criminal Charges'

    04/09/2014 5:18:15 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/6/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    LANSING — A state representative who sponsored some of the Michigan school reform bills from a few years ago said people in districts who blatantly violate the law should face "criminal charges." State Rep. Ken Yonker, R-Caledonia, made the comment yesterday during a Mackinac Center for Public Policy event titled, "Roadblocks to Reform? A Review of Union Contracts In Michigan Schools." Up to 60 percent of Michigan's largest districts are violating the law by including illegal provisions in union contracts, according to a recent study by Audrey Spalding, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center. In 2011, the state...
  • Union Teacher Contract Has Illegal Racial Preferences Provision

    04/08/2014 11:26:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/7/2014 | Tom Gantert
    A Macomb County public school superintendent says the teachers union contract for her district has a provision that would cost the school all the concessions it negotiated if language believed to be against the law is removed. Two years ago, before Deb Wahlstrom took over as superintendent of Mount Clemens Community Schools, she said she was aware of issues in the union contract. Specifically, the union contract includes provisions that the board would not authorize any public school academies (charter public schools) and would implement an affirmative action program in the recruitment, hiring and retention of "multi-ethnic teachers." The full...
  • College Spending Results Questioned: More money doesn't yield better results

    04/08/2014 7:22:18 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/7/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    In praising Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed $80 million increase in aid to public universities, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman said: "States that do not invest in higher education will not win in the 21st century" and spending more "is investing in job growth." There is little evidence to back up these statements. No matter how you look at the data, states that spend more on higher education do not have more college graduates or better economic results. Comparing states by graduate population and economic growth yields no correlation. Additionally, a 2007 study by Richard Vedder, a professor at...
  • More Problems with Teacher Contract

    04/07/2014 1:01:10 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/4/2014 | Audrey Spalding
    The Ferndale school district's collective bargaining agreement made headlines recently because it gives preference to applicants of "the non-Christian faith." Under media scrutiny, Ferndale officials said they "somehow missed" the discriminatory language. Fortunately, they have now removed it. But large portions of Ferndale's contract still appear to be in violation of other state laws. Ferndale is one of an estimated 60 percent of Michigan districts that have worked to preserve collective bargaining language that is prohibited by state law. A series of recent reforms were passed in an attempt to make it easier for district officials to retain and reward...
  • Agenda For Detroit: What Role State Government Should Play After Bankruptcy

    04/07/2014 10:31:02 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/5/2014 | James Hohman
    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's introduction of a debt adjustment plan puts the city one step closer to emerging from bankruptcy. Gov. Rick Snyder went so far as to call it proof that the city's recovery is underway. But Detroit's recent history is littered with many false claims of an impending turnaround — Detroit's Renaissance Center opened in 1977 — and successful emergence from bankruptcy is no guarantee of revitalization. To ensure an authentic recovery, state government must remain actively involved for the foreseeable future. By reducing its debt in bankruptcy, Detroit will free up funds to reinvest in current...
  • District Disputes Union President's Claim About School Funding Cuts

    04/07/2014 8:43:46 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/5/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The Wayne County school district that the president of the Michigan Education Association highlighted as losing $40 million under Gov. Rick Snyder's watch has actually had its funding increase. In a column for The Detroit News, MEA President Steve Cook wrote: "Take the Wayne-Westland school district, which has lost $40,465,325 during Snyder's tenure." He went on to complain about what he claims are cuts to education and about corporations. But it is unclear where he got his numbers, said Jenny Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Wayne-Westland Community School District. "According to Deputy Superintendent/Administrative and Business Services Jim Larson-Shidler, the figure...
  • VW and the UAW vs. Workers, Democracy and Free Speech

    04/07/2014 6:50:53 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/2/2014 | Vinnie Vernuccio
    Apparently, "democracy" isn't a satisfying answer to the United Auto Workers. A week after Volkswagen autoworkers in Chattanooga, Tenn., declined to join the Detroit-based union by a vote of 712 to 626, the UAW appealed the election to the National Labor Relations Board. The UAW claimed that "interference by politicians and outside special interest groups" skewed the vote. The main problem for the union, aside from the outcome, was that opponents exercised their First Amendment rights and stood up for workers who otherwise didn't have a voice. Specifically, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., as well as several other elected officials, spoke...
  • Video Report: Teachers Hope Their Win Against Union Emboldens Others

    04/04/2014 10:51:01 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/3/2014 | Anne Schieber
    Teachers Miriam Chanski and Ray Arthur say they hope their victory in getting out of the Michigan Education Association will embolden the 8,000 other teachers who have chosen not to pay union dues this year. Chanski and Arthur filed unfair labor practice complaints against the MEA when the union failed to honor their right not to pay dues or fees under Michigan's right-to-work law. The union claimed the teachers failed to give notice in August as required by union bylaws and because of forms they signed when they were hired as teachers. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation represented Arthur and...
  • Electricity Competition In Texas, Illinois Brought Lower Prices

    04/04/2014 8:09:04 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/2/2014 | Jack Spencer
    The debate about opening up Michigan's electricity market to competition took an interesting turn at a recent hearing on the issue. The Michigan Jobs and Energy Coalition, which includes the state's two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison, has repeatedly said that open competition in the electricity market would lead to service reliability issues. As an example, the group has said the open market in Texas can be blamed for rolling blackouts that have occurred in the Lone Star state. But one of the Michigan coalition's allies in the fight, Bob Manning, who is vice chair of the Electric...
  • State Paying $860 Million In Select Tax Incentives, Subsidies

    04/03/2014 9:57:42 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/2/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The state of Michigan is expected to pay $860 million for economic development credits and programs in fiscal year 2014 and most of that money is slated for politically favored business such as Hollywood's movie industry, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. "The spending we are doing on economic development is large," said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "And the majority of these expenses are for decisions made years ago. The state shouldn't be in the business of awarding tax money to favored industries." Michigan could certainly use that money....
  • Happy Birthday Norman Borlaug - Credited with saving 1 billion people

    04/02/2014 9:37:01 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 17 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/28/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    I was 21-years-old before I first heard the name Norman Borlaug. It’s a shame it took until my third year of college to learn about one of the greatest humans who ever lived. Borlaug, who died in 2009, was an Iowa-born scientist who spent his life teaching new farming techniques in third world countries. His movement was eventually called the "Green Revolution." Borlaug was introduced to me during a discussion about another of my heroes — the late economist Julian Simon. Simon was the author of, "The Ultimate Resource," in which he argued ferociously against Malthusian concerns about overpopulation. One...
  • What Right-to-Work Means: A view from a union contract

    04/02/2014 6:14:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/1/2014 | Michael Van Beek
    One could hear several varieties of apocalyptical claims while Michigan was in the process of becoming the 24th right-to-work state in the nation. Rep. Sander Levin called it "frightful ... for the people of the state of Michigan and for the middle class." The Associated Press said it was a "devastating and once-unthinkable defeat to organized labor." And one union in Michigan claimed it was "a violation of the prohibitions against involuntary servitude." In other words, a form of slavery. Now that the law is in effect, however, and one can see what right-to-work actually does in practice, these claims...
  • Michigan's Film Incentive Program Has Been A Bust

    04/01/2014 2:00:38 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/30/2014 | James Hohman
    In 2011, Michigan changed its open-ended film incentive program to a capped $25 million annual subsidy. Since then, it’s been increased to $50 million. While the executive budget this year calls for another $25 million for this program, it should be eliminated entirely. All told, the state has devoted $444.7 million to film productions from both the tax credits and appropriations, according to the state treasury and budget offices. Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the program is not designed to establish a permanent film industry. Approved film productions spend money in the state and leave. The state sends...
  • New Bill Would Prevent Discriminatory Charitable Bin Bans

    04/01/2014 8:09:59 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/30/2014 | Anne Schieber
    Cities would no longer be able to ban most outdoor recycling bins on private property under a bill introduced in the Michigan State Senate. The bill comes as a relief to charities that have gotten permission from private property owners to install the bins in parking lots. Some municipalities have been working to ban outdoor charitable bins from groups other than those with brick and mortar recycling operations, like Goodwill. Municipalities "can regulate, license and monitor collection bins but can't ban them," said Dan Dalton, an attorney whose clients, Planet Aid and St. Vincent de Paul, have been pushing for...
  • Union Teacher Contract Has Illegal Racial Preferences Provision

    03/31/2014 6:19:02 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/28/2014 | Tom Gantert
    A Macomb County public school superintendent says the teachers union contract for her district has a provision that would cost the school all the concessions it negotiated if language believed to be against the law is removed. Two years ago, before Deb Wahlstrom took over as superintendent of Mount Clemens Community Schools, she said she was aware of issues in the union contract. Specifically, the union contract includes provisions that the board would not authorize any public school academies (charter public schools) and would implement an affirmative action program in the recruitment, hiring and retention of "multi-ethnic teachers." The full...
  • Teacher Speaks Out on Union Bullying

    03/28/2014 11:17:04 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/24/2014 | Ted O'Neil
    A Coopersville kindergarten teacher who resigned from the Michigan Education Association under the state's worker freedom law says she is glad her ordeal is over, but is concerned for her colleagues, according to a story in The Grand Rapids Press. "I am very thankful that the MEA has finally recognized my right to opt out, but my settlement doesn't bring justice to the thousands of other teachers in my position in West Michigan and across the state of Michigan," Miriam Chanski, who along with Petoskey teacher Ray Arthur is now free from the MEA, told The Press. "This is not...
  • Land Bank Funding Makes It Into Supplemental Spending Bill

    03/28/2014 6:03:43 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/25/2014 | Jack Spencer
    When push came to shove, $1.7 million in funding for the Fast Track Land Bank Authority was included in Senate Bill 608. Initially, the House passed version of the bill did not include the funding, but the Senate passed version did. Gov. Rick Snyder reportedly wanted it in the bill as well. The decision on the land bank funding and several other differences between the House and Senate regarding Senate Bill 608 were decided in a six member conference committee. Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, House Appropriations Committee chairman and member of the conference committee, said that as the issue was...
  • What a Union Looks Like in a RTW State

    03/27/2014 1:34:04 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 4/23/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    As auto manufacturing has shifted to the South, the UAW has made a push to begin unionizing workers in right-to-work states. The words and actions of union officials are interesting compared to states where workers are still forced to pay money to the union. On the website for a UAW chapter in Alabama, which is trying to organize workers at a Mercedes-Benz plant, the union writes the following in its FAQ section: Q: Do I have to join the union? A: First of all remember Alabama is a Right to Work state; therefore, it is totally voluntary whether or not...
  • Electric Vehicle Battery Subsidy Failures Evident Early On

    03/27/2014 10:50:16 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/26/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Last week, the Detroit Free Press concluded that the massive giveaway of state tax dollars to electric vehicle battery makers failed to generate the thousands of jobs that were promised. In particular, a March 16 article noted that, "today, Michigan has only a few hundred battery workers in four plants — despite $861 million in Obama administration stimulus grants and $543 million in Michigan tax credits awarded by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration in 2009." Readers of Michigan Capitol Confidential are not surprised by this news given that the failures of the electric vehicle battery industry in Michigan have been...
  • House Readies For Vote On FOIA Reforms

    03/27/2014 7:03:17 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/23/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Michigan residents who want to keep tabs on what government officials are doing may soon be able to do so without having to pay excessive fees. A vote in the Michigan House could be taken this week on House Bill 4001, which would lower the fees government bodies can charge for FOIA request materials. The bill is an attempt to update the state's FOIA law and bring it in line with its original intent, said Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, the sponsor of the bill. Rep. Shirkey "There are necessary exemptions to FOIA, but the core of the law should be...
  • Economics 101: Minimum Wage Kills Jobs

    03/27/2014 5:56:03 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/26/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    The minimum wage has been in the news a lot lately due to proposals at the state and federal levels to increase it and because of a February Congressional Budget Office report on the subject. Among all the policy subjects up for debate, there is perhaps no easier conclusion to draw than that minimum wage mandates are jobs killers. Both economic theory and empirical evidence — despite some recent claims to the contrary — make it clear that mandating an artificially high minimum wage leads to job losses. First, consider the theory behind the economics. Basic price theory informs us...
  • Non-Christians Given 'Special Consideration' In Union Teacher Contract

    03/26/2014 5:58:50 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/24/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The teachers union contract in Ferndale Public Schools in Oakland County gives "special consideration" to applicants who are of "the non-Christian faith." Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment and public services on the basis of religion. The state constitution says it, "shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting." And the Federal Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on religion. The discriminatory provision in the Ferndale teachers union contract...
  • Free market approaches to immigration reform

    03/26/2014 8:24:57 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 17 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/23/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    LANSING — In the most recent U.S. Census, Michigan was the only state to have a lower population and saw the largest economic decline in the nation compared with a decade earlier, but that can be solved with new immigration policies and work permits, a panel of experts said Tuesday. The Issues & Ideas panel, "Free Market Approaches to Immigration Reform," was hosted by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and featured Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute; Bing Goei, a Grand Rapids businessman appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to head the Michigan Office for New...
  • Asset Forfeiture Issue Arises With Clause in Human Trafficking Bills

    03/25/2014 1:26:41 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/21/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Legislation aimed at cracking down on human trafficking could result in government taking more property from citizens in Michigan. At issue is a "willful blindness" clause inserted into House Bills 5230 and 5233 that would allow government officials to take property from people who, while not involved with a crime, benefit by getting property as a result of some form of criminal activity. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan opposes the bills, saying the legislation expands the ability of government to force people to forfeit property without clearly written rules for doing so. Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, sponsored...
  • Other Michigan Cities in Pension Debt: Not just a Detroit problem

    03/25/2014 11:29:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/20/2014 | James Hohman
    Detroit's pension woes are in the news, but municipal employees around Michigan should not presume that their pension systems are secure. Indeed, in most Michigan cities the underfunding problems are worse than those in Detroit. On paper, the unfunded liabilities for Detroit's police and fire system are $147 million, and its general employee pension system underfunding comes to $838 million. That translates into 96 percent and 77 percent funded, respectively. That is, for every dollar in pension benefits earned by an employee, the city has an average of 87 cents saved. That's not good, but the 2012 financial statements of...
  • More People On Food Stamps After Past Minimum Wage Increases

    03/25/2014 6:55:07 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/23/2014 | Tom Gantert
    While proponents of mandating a higher minimum wage claim it would help Michigan residents get off food stamps, the evidence from past increases shows this not to be true. In 2007, the minimum wage in Michigan increased from $5.15 an hour to $6.95 an hour. That year, the number of people on food stamps increased from 1.1 million to 1.2 million. In 2008, the minimum wage increased again from $6.95 an hour to $7.15. Again, the number of food stamp recipients went up from 1.2 million to 1.26 million. Yet, the left-leaning Center for American Progress recently released a report...
  • Consumers Save $240 Annually From Electricity Competition in Illinois

    03/25/2014 5:07:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/22/2014 | Michael Van Beek
    What could your household do with an extra $240 per year? A new study estimates that Illinois electricity consumers have saved $37 billion from 1999 to 2013 as a result of increased electricity and natural gas competition. That works out to a total savings of $3,600 per household, or $240 annually. Illinois now boasts the lowest electricity prices in the Midwest. The report calls these consumer savings "a triumph of market-based public policy." It outlines the process by which the Land of Lincoln transitioned from providing electricity through a state-controlled monopolistic system to one centered on competitive, level and open...
  • Not Pretty: 2013 Legislative Roundup

    03/24/2014 1:43:38 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/20/2014 | Jack McHugh
    In contrast to the remarkable string of potentially transformational reforms enacted by the previous Legislature in 2011 and 2012, 2013 offered signs of a political class returning to its "business as usual" ways. Some "reversion to the mean" is normal, because major reform tends to come in waves. Plus, many current lawmakers are eager to get the next reform wave rolling. Still, positive reforms signed into law in 2013 were scarce, so we'll begin with the bad news: Obamacare Medicaid expansion: Maybe its members will amaze us with an awesome 2014, but it's likely this Legislature will be remembered most...
  • Union Intimidation List Back Up

    03/24/2014 10:19:04 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    CapCon ^ | 3/22/2014 | Tom Gantert
    A list of workers that was posted at Hurley Medical Center and named people who opted out of their union has been reposted at the hospital less than three weeks after it had been taken down. And it has a fifth name on it now. The list, which was posted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1603 on a bulletin board in a public location near the cafeteria, was up for a day or two in February before being taken down after one of the workers whose name was on it complained. The workers whose...
  • Why Good Tax Reform is Difficult

    03/24/2014 8:21:37 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/21/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    The best tax systems include low rates, a wide base and limited exemptions that minimize the distortions caused by policy, while easing the burdens of paying the tax. But many of the provisions that make the tax code so complicated are advocated for, and relied upon, by a variety of special interest groups, meaning changing the system is extremely difficult. But that's what Congressman Dave Camp, R-Midland, is trying to do. The chair of the House Ways and Means Committee has introduced a plan that would overhaul the tax system. U.S. Rep. Camp The plan appears to generally lower rates...
  • Unions, Left-Leaning Groups Dominate List of Largest Political Donors

    03/24/2014 6:16:37 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/19/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Democrats and many in the media routinely complain about money spent in politics, and they regularly lash out at conservatives and big business. Turns out, unions are the top spenders in politics. Twelve of the top 20 political donors from 1989 to 2014 have been unions, which overwhelmingly support Democratic causes, according to an analysis done by OpenSecrets.org's Center for Responsive Politics. Seven of the top 10 donors overall give almost exclusively to politicians or groups on the left. ActBlue, a political action committee that raises money for Democrats and progressive causes and features Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer...
  • There Is No Relationship Between College Graduates and Economic Growth

    03/21/2014 2:22:52 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/18/2014 | James Hohman
    It often is argued that the key to grow a state's economy is to increase the population of college graduates. Yet, over the last decade, this factor has proved to be a poor predictor of economic growth. The states that have a relatively high concentration of college graduates do not expand at rates statistically different from states that do not. The following chart shows the percentage of each state's adult population with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2000, and the state's per capita personal income growth from 2000 through 2012 (Michigan is the red dot). If there were a...
  • SEIU Fined Almost $200,000 Over Actions Tied To 2012 Ballot Proposal Campaign

    03/21/2014 11:27:35 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/18/2014 | Jack Spencer
    The Service Employees International Union, the labor group behind the home health care dues skim, has been fined $199,000 for concealing that it bankrolled Proposal 4 in 2012, which would have locked a forced unionization scheme into the state constitution. The fine for campaign finance violations is the second-largest ever levied in Michigan, according to a press release from the secretary of state's office. Between 2006 and when the dues skim finally ended in early 2013, the SEIU took more than $34 million from home-based caregivers, most of whom were taking care of family and friends. Secretary of State Ruth...
  • Grand Rapids Says Nonprofit Acton Institute Not A Charitable Institution

    03/21/2014 9:57:24 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/17/2014 | Manny Lopez
    Officials from the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids are scheduled to go before the city's Board of Review today to appeal a decision that it owes $91,000 in property taxes on its newly renovated building and parking lot downtown. According to the denial letter City Assessor Scott A. Engerson sent to Acton, the nonprofit think tank "does not meet non-profit charitable requirements according to case law." The Acton Institute's renovated building in Grand Rapids. The letter did not provide specifics about the case law, but in a comment posted to a story on...
  • Unions Says 8,000 Haven't Paid Dues; Some Teachers Say Union Intentionally Misled Members

    03/18/2014 5:37:34 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 18 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/15/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Less than six months after the Michigan Education Association boasted of how it retained 99 percent of its membership after the state's right-to-work law went into effect, a union executive testified under oath that about 8,000 members have not filled out paperwork to have dues automatically taken from their paycheck. Eight thousand people not paying dues is a far greater number than the 1,500 the union claimed were not paying because they exercised their rights and opted out of the union. In testimony before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, MEA Executive Director Gretchen Dziadosz said some teachers had not been...
  • Unions, Left-Leaning Groups Dominate List of Largest Political Donors

    03/17/2014 7:09:58 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/17/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Democrats and many in the media routinely complain about money spent in politics, and they regularly lash out at conservatives and big business. Turns out, unions are the top spenders in politics. Twelve of the top 20 political donors from 1989 to 2014 have been unions, which overwhelmingly support Democratic causes, according to an analysis done by OpenSecrets.org's Center for Responsive Politics. Seven of the top 10 donors overall give almost exclusively to politicians or groups on the left.
  • Who Is Behind The Minimum Wage Increase Drive?

    03/17/2014 1:04:34 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 22 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/15/2014 | Jack Spencer
    A petition drive to put a minimum wage increase on the statewide ballot in Michigan is only superficially about the minimum wage and isn't really Michigan based, says a watchdog group monitoring the issue and the groups behind it. In fact, says Mike Paranzino, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), which is actively supporting a minimum wage increase, is really just a labor front group. Paranzino is communications director for ROCexposed, an organization dedicated to educating people about "worker centers," which are being organized by ROC. ROCexposed provides a counter to ROC's research, illuminates its funding and highlights the tactics ROC...