Articles Posted by MichCapCon

Brevity: Headers | « Text »
  • Union's August Window Declared Illegal

    09/15/2014 1:04:04 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/12/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Administrative Law Judge Julia C. Stern has ruled that under Michigan’s right-to-work law, public employees can resign from a union at any time of the year. On that basis, Judge Stern said that the state’s largest teacher union, the Michigan Education Association, has been violating the law by enforcing its so-called 'August window.' “Freedom and the ability to exercise one’s rights do not come with a time limit,” said Patrick J. Wright, vice president for legal affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “As we have said all along, the bylaws of a membership organization do not trump state...
  • School Districts Across the State Violating Michigan Right-to-Work Law

    09/15/2014 6:23:58 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Twenty-three public school districts that signed their union contracts after right-to-work became law kept language in that told employees they had to financially support a union as a condition of employment, according to a study done by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Those 23 districts employed about 2,160 teachers. “There are thousands of teachers in these districts who may be misled into believing they don’t have a choice when it comes to financially supporting a union in order to keep their job,” said Audrey Spalding, director of education policy and author of the study, in a press release. Capitol...
  • $40 Million ‘Rapid’ Silver Line Bus Takes Twice as Long as a Car

    09/11/2014 12:54:38 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 18 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/10/2014 | Anne Schieber
    GRAND RAPIDS – Commuters looking for a faster way to travel may have to look beyond Michigan’s first “rapid transit” bus line. The service, which began the last week in August in Grand Rapids and is known as the Silver Line, cost taxpayers $40 million but takes twice as long as a car driving the same route. The service is called “rapid” because the buses have their own lane and bus drivers can signal traffic lights to stay green. The buses also feature newly installed bus stops where you buy your ticket from a machine and validate it before you...
  • Number of Michigan Residents on Food Stamps Finally Declining

    09/11/2014 5:24:44 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/10/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In 2000, Michigan had 580,000 people on food stamps. By 2011, that number had grown to 1.9 million people as nearly 1 in 5 Michigan residents were on the Food Assistance Program. But after 11 consecutive years of increases, Michigan has seen the number of people on food stamps decrease the past two years, according to the state’s annual reports. After reaching the high-water mark of 1,928,478 in 2011, the number of people on food stamps dropped to 1,828,384 in 2012 and then to 1,775,646 in 2013. Don Grimes, an economist for the University of Michigan, said the recent decrease...
  • Education Rally Long on Emotion, Short on Facts

    09/10/2014 1:43:46 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/9/2014 | Tom Gantert
    A group calling itself the “Michigan Teachers and Allies for Change” held a rally in Ann Arbor to promote more funding for conventional K-12 schools, according to MLive. Not everything claimed at the rally, however, is accurate. The MLive story reported: “Students in Ann Arbor Public Schools saw their class sizes rise at the beginning of last year as a result of eliminated teaching positions due to budget constraints.” The district reported that it issued layoff notices to 233 teachers in the spring of 2013. However, in the fall the district told Michigan Capitol Confidential only one full-time teacher and...
  • The Story of a True Hero: Sir Nicholas Winton

    09/10/2014 10:02:42 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Mackinac Center for Public Policy ^ | 9/10/2014 | Kendra Shrode
    Last night I shook hands with the son of one of my favorite heroes. The Holocaust Memorial Center in metro Detroit hosted Nick Winton, who gave a most inspiring presentation on the life of his father, Sir Nicholas Winton. Sir Nicholas, who prefers to be called Nicky, was a 29-year-old London stockbroker who gave up a skiing holiday to visit Prague and witness firsthand the refugees who were fleeing Nazi tyranny. That visit led to his heroic deeds which enabled 669 children to escape. Parents, desperate to save their children, sought his assistance and he established an organization to aid...
  • Democrats See New Voter Turnout Techniques as Ace in the Hole

    09/10/2014 6:45:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 22 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/6/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson has told party faithful that the road to victory runs through new voter turnout technology and tactics. At the State Democratic Party Convention over the Aug. 23-24 weekend, Johnson discussed the “Win Machine,” an application that gives Democrats access to maps on their phones that help them find fellow Democrats in their neighborhoods who didn’t vote in 2010. Being armed with this information will give them the chance to contact the potential voters and try to get them to go to the polls. “I was at the Democratic convention,” Inside Michigan Politics founder Bill...
  • 'Non-partisan' group is totally partisan Democrats

    09/09/2014 1:58:34 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/7/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Michigan Teachers and Allies for Change (M-TAC), which MLive described as “a grassroots organization started by Ann Arbor Public Schools teachers and parents,” was in the news last week for a rally in Ann Arbor seeking more money for public schools. According to MLive, the group is "non-partisan and is not affiliated with a union." The featured politicians on the stage at the rally were all Democrats: Lisa Brown, who is running for Lt. Governor, State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, State Rep. Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline; and State Rep. Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor. MLive...
  • Michigan Approves Corporate Welfare for Car Dealership

    09/09/2014 12:38:16 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 18 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/9/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Michigan Strategic Fund board members voted Tuesday to divert almost three-quarters of a million dollars in local and school taxes to a private entity so that a Redford Township car dealership can upgrade its facilities, MLive reports. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. will give the dealership $719,528 to renovate its building and install a car wash on an adjacent piece of land it owns. Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, said this type of special treatment is unfair. “It’s unfair because this dealer no doubt competes with other dealers not lucky enough to get a government handout,”...
  • Where $100 Million Buys Little: The Pension Fund

    09/09/2014 9:50:03 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/8/2014 | Anne Schieber
    If you’re looking to save money, making extra payments on your mortgage can be a painless way to do it. Just an extra $1,000 each year, for example, could save tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Now, imagine “paying the mortgage” for the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. The pension liability (just the debt) of this program is so big and will require so many years to pay it off, it is easier to think of it in terms of a mortgage. Just like a mortgage, the state has a payment schedule to pay...
  • Union Falsely Tells Teachers They Lose Sick Leave Benefits if They Opt Out

    09/09/2014 7:15:41 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/4/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The president of a local teachers union incorrectly told his members they would lose benefits to a sick bank all teachers had contributed to if they left the union. Todd Mignerey, a high school teacher at Flushing Community Schools and the Flushing Education Association union president, sent the email in June while discussing the Michigan Education Association’s opt-out period in the month of August. The claim was made in a 11-page PDF document entitled, “Union Membership Has Benefits, Why Should I Remain In FEA, MEA, NEA?” Page 3 of the document states, “FSTDIP (Formerly Sick Bank)”: “MEA legal has confirmed...
  • Pensions, not paper, the real cost problem for schools

    09/09/2014 5:57:09 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/6/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Some Democratic politicians and other proponents of more funding for K-12 schools held a rally in Ann Arbor. State Rep. Jeff Irwin was quoted in MLive. "The crisis is real. You see the increased class sizes. You have teachers asking parents for reams of paper." For the Record says: The crisis is real. But it’s not the cost of paper or the amount taxpayers are spending on K-12 education. Like every other district in the state, the real budget killer for Ann Arbor Public Schools is its employee retirement benefits. In just two years, Ann Arbor’s costs for retiree pension...
  • Right-to-Work, Tax Rates Paint Interesting Picture

    09/08/2014 10:21:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/2/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    Scholars with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, as well as other institutions, have used descriptive statistics in conjunction with empirical evidence to tell stories — sometimes profound ones. A good example of this was published recently by “Opportunity Ohio” and should be explored further. One of my favorite uses of descriptive statistics numbers involves right-to-work laws and American migration. For many reasons, Americans pick up and move. Often such moves involve economic motivations. A great policy question is why so many Americans have moved from non-right-to-work states to ones with such legal protections. Is it just a coincidence or...
  • Detroit Expected $55 Million in Property Tax Revenue; It Brought in $6.7 Million

    09/08/2014 6:36:44 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 52 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/5/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In the fourth quarter of its fiscal year 2014, the city of Detroit projected it would bring in $55 million in property taxes. Instead, it collected just $6.7 million, about $48.3 million short of what it expected. The city revealed the shortfall in its most recent filing with the Michigan Department of Treasury by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. “It's a combination of many factors,” said Bill Nowling, spokesman for Orr. “Clearly, collections is an issue, but so it is the assessment process itself. In many cases, the city is carrying assessments for properties that are blighted or abandoned and those...
  • $40 Million Transit Waste

    09/05/2014 1:20:08 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/3/2014 | Anne Schieber
    Taxpayers spent $40 million for a new "rapid" bus line in Grand Rapids that takes twice as long as a car and only beats the old bus line by one minute.
  • SEIU: Go on strike against your family members

    09/04/2014 10:09:48 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 12 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/4/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    The SEIU represents hundreds of thousands of health care workers and is now encouraging them to march alongside fast-food strikers, according to the New York Times. Union officials also want home-care aides to join protests in six cities – Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Seattle. Union leaders say the hope is to expand to more cities in future strikes. For The Record says: According to a study commissioned by the agency overseeing home caregivers in Michigan, 75 percent of those home-care aid workers the SEIU is urging to strike are taking care of a relative or close friend. Might...
  • 'Competitiveness' Outlook Ranks Michigan 12th Best

    09/03/2014 12:27:42 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/30/2014 | Mike LaFaive
    They 7th edition of “Rich States, Poor States” was released recently and it ranks Michigan 12th best among the 50 states for its “economic outlook” based on 15 public policy variables, such as tax, business and labor policies. The higher position may signal better economic times ahead for Michigan. This is the highest rank achieved by the Great Lake State since the index’s creation. Since 2009, Michigan has steadily moved from near the bottom (34th) to where it is now. The index is created from 15 variables that the authors believe contribute to a states’ economic well-being: marginal personal tax...
  • Charters Outperform Conventional Schools When Student Poverty Status Is Taken into Account

    09/03/2014 10:53:17 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/1/2014 | Tom Gantert
    If the Michigan Department of Education were to take the socioeconomic status of students into consideration when ranking school performance, it would find that charter public schools outperform conventional public schools on the state's Top-to-Bottom list, according to an analysis done by Audrey Spalding, education policy director for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Spalding’s analysis found that if there are two schools of the same grade levels where both have the same percentage of students eligible for a free lunch — one a charter public school and the other a conventional public school — the charter would, on average,...
  • Small Tent or Big Tent? - Why political parties are missing the larger picture

    09/02/2014 10:20:07 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 9/1/2014 | Jack Spencer
    An analogy used to describe the extent to which a political party is exclusive or inclusive is whether or not it is a “big tent” or a “small tent.” This analogy is most commonly employed in reference to the Republican Party. In essence, the terms “big tent” and “small tent” are used to describe the width and depth of a party’s political appeal. When the Republican Party is said to be a “small tent,” the intimation is that the political positions it holds represent too narrow a segment of the voting public. Frequently this accusation is accompanied by a list...
  • Michigan Debt Per Taxpayer: $19,300

    09/02/2014 7:27:46 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/30/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Michigan has among the most debt per taxpayers in the nation, ranking ninth overall, according to the annual “Financial State of the States.” That’s actually a significant improvement from last year. The report is released by the Chicago-based group Truth in Accounting and measures the total assets and liabilities of the 50 states. The methodology of the report is unique because it includes analyzing unreported pension and retirement health care liabilities. Michigan has a taxpayer burden of $19,300 per person, which is down from an all-time high of $25,300 per person last year which ranked the state fifth. There are...
  • Did Michigan Gov. Snyder Create 275,000 jobs?

    09/02/2014 5:34:50 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/30/2014 | James Hohman
    There can be no question that the Michigan economy is recovering — only about the magnitude of the growth. The level of growth depends on where you look. As we get closer to the November general election, more people will question the degree of growth and whether the Snyder administration and Legislature has helped or hindered the state recovery. Gov. Snyder and his campaign team claim he has helped create "more than 275,000 jobs." Let's take a deeper look at that number. There have been substantial job gains in the payroll survey during Gov. Snyder's first term. This is a...
  • Detroit Expected $55 Million in Property Tax Revenue; It Brought in $6.7 Million

    08/27/2014 1:19:59 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 45 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/27/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    In the fourth quarter of its fiscal year 2014, the city of Detroit projected it would bring in $55 million in property taxes. Instead, it collected just $6.7 million, about $48.3 million short of what it expected. The city revealed the shortfall in its most recent filing with the Michigan Department of Treasury by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. “It's a combination of many factors,” said Bill Nowling, spokesman for Orr. “Clearly, collections is an issue, but so it is the assessment process itself. In many cases, the city is carrying assessments for properties that are blighted or abandoned and those...
  • State School Rankings Mostly Measuring Race and Income Rather Than Performance

    08/26/2014 7:31:59 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/21/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Nearly four out of five students in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the Michigan Department of Education’s Top-To-Bottom Ratings for 2013-14 were eligible for the federal governments free or reduced-price lunch program. Only about 11 percent of the students in the top 5 percent of schools in those rankings were eligible for the free lunch program. Right now, the rankings rely 50 percent on overall achievement scores and 25 percent on the gap between the highest and lowest performing students. The other 25 percent is academic improvement. That raises concerns that the state education department is simply measuring...
  • Who fact checks the fact checkers?

    08/26/2014 10:14:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/24/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    A recent “fact check” from the Michigan Truth Squad, a project of the Center for Michigan, takes a look at an ad from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer attacking Gov. Rick Snyder. In its analysis of K-12 state funding, the truth-checkers state, “In his first year in office, Snyder approved a budget that resulted in school funding $930 million lower than the previous year.” For the Record: The Truth Squad cites a Senate Fiscal Agency report, but they do not include $455.5 million in additional state funding used for “best practices” and retiree benefit costs. That amount is listed in...
  • State Budget Savings Idea: Eliminate Revenue Sharing

    08/26/2014 7:39:24 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/24/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    Arguably no one in Michigan has made more recommendations to reform the state budget — literally hundreds of them worth billions of dollars — than Mackinac Center policy analysts. As the fiscal 2015 state budget has just climbed above $53.2 billion — a nearly 27 percent nominal increase since fiscal 2007 — it seems both prudent and timely to remind Lansing of some opportunities to trim state spending. In 2003, Center experts recommended cutting in half statutory revenue sharing to local units of government with the ultimate goal of eliminating it entirely. Halving statutory revenue sharing in 2003 would have...
  • Global Warming Alarmists Switch Complaints From Water Levels to Rainfall

    08/26/2014 5:40:28 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/23/2014 | Jack Spencer
    The 96 years of measuring the water levels of the Great Lakes done by the Army Corps of Engineers represents a relative sliver of time compared to the thousands of years prior to 1918 when no one was keeping track of these levels. Nonetheless, in recent years global warming adherents were citing low water levels on the Great Lakes as evidence of global warming. Now that Great Lakes levels are no longer low, they are seizing on the recent wet weather in southeast Michigan to advance their arguments. The 4.7 inches of rain that swamped Detroit on Aug. 11 was...
  • Supreme Court Ends ‘Dues Skim’ Nationwide

    08/25/2014 1:10:50 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/20/2014 | Michael Reitz
    On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled that thousands of home-based caregivers in Illinois — and perhaps hundreds of thousands in eight other states — are not required to pay union dues as a condition of employment. How did we get here? Hundreds of thousands of disabled individuals in this country require the assistance of a caregiver. In order to avoid institutionalizing these patients, a federal Medicaid program provides assistance for in-home care. Many patients are cared for by a friend or family member. Most people wouldn’t equate such a selfless act to labor unions, but the Service Employees International...
  • Teachers Find Union Alternatives

    08/25/2014 10:46:01 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/22/2014 | Anne Schieber
    Now that Michigan is a right-to-work state, more and more educators who chose to leave the Michigan Education Association are turning to professional organizations to get legal protection and liability coverage. The American Association of Educators says calls are coming in daily and membership in Michigan has doubled. “The new climate in Michigan is proof that when teachers have the right to choose, many decide to flee the unions in favor of professional associations that provide similar benefits, at a fraction of the cost,” said AAE spokesperson Alexandra Freeze. Her organization is getting particular attention this month because the MEA...
  • State Education Department Gives a Pass To Failing Districts; Punishes Charters

    08/25/2014 7:32:26 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/23/2014 | Tom Gantert
    While the state of Michigan has questioned the accountability of charter public schools, some conventional public schools appear to get a free pass. This week, the Michigan Department of Education released its list of “Priority” schools, or those in the bottom 5 percent of academic achievement in the state. Lansing Eastern High School and Pontiac High School made the “Priority” list again for the 2013-14 school year, meaning the schools have been on the MDE’s academic watch list for five consecutive years. Gary Naeyaert, executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project, said no charter school could have stayed on...
  • Texas Looks to Decrease Occupational Licensing

    08/25/2014 5:10:23 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 30 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/22/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor of that state, has rolled out a plan that would repeal a number of occupational licensing rules. These standards restrict individuals from engaging in certain commerce without permission from the state (and often include paying extra money, taking tests, and meeting other requirements). The plan notes, “Regulation by licensure results in less competition, fewer choices, higher costs, and the potential to thwart innovation. These effects are not always visible to the consumer, but they are nonetheless built-in costs without justification in most instances.” The National Center for Policy Analysis notes,...
  • Ex Mich Gov. Granholm Teaching Class On Job Creation - State Lost 500K During Her Tenure

    08/22/2014 12:52:04 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 27 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/22/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will teach one course this fall at the University of California-Berkeley. It’s called “Creating Jobs through Better Government Policies for Innovation and Education.” That is the only class Granholm will teach in the fall. In the spring, she’s listed as contributing to another course in Public Policy taught by another instructor. Granholm is listed as earning $84,331 in 2013 at the college. Granholm’s husband, Daniel Mulhern, is listed as earning $180,000 in gross pay in 2013 and is schedule to teach one class in the fall and two courses in the spring. For the Record:...
  • Why Do Michigan Residents Falsely Believe Education Spending Is Down?

    08/21/2014 7:50:41 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/20/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In three of her last four budgets, Gov. Jennifer Granholm cut state funding to K-12 schools. In Gov. Rick Snyder's first four budgets, he has increased state funding to K-12 schools, up to a record $12 billion in 2014-15, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. So how is Gov. Snyder being tagged by critics as the villain who has cut funding to school children? The answer lies in how the complicated nature of school funding has been the most misunderstood story reported in the media, as well as a campaign to portray schools as underfunded. “If you repeat a lie...
  • Job Announcements Don't Equal Job Creation

    08/20/2014 11:31:39 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/18/2014 | James Hohman
    The campaign season has been filled with claims from candidates that they will create jobs. A common strategy is to target a business or an industry for special state support and to claim credit whenever jobs are added by companies receiving support. A quick look at the job creation and loss figures for the economy as a whole shows that this approach is not a workable one. There is a surprising amount of job creation and loss in the economy. Michigan added 214,000 jobs and lost 194,000 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor...
  • Union Sends Out Misleading 'Consent Form' When Members Try To Leave

    08/20/2014 9:48:18 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/19/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The Michigan Education Association is asking some members of its union who have inquired about opting out under the state's right-to-work law to initial a "Nonmember Informed Consent Form" which lists "benefits" they’d be giving up. Though misleading, the form is entirely optional and has nothing to do with the actual right-to-work process. An attorney compared the list to something people hear from telemarketers when trying to change phone services. The Association of American Educators, a professional organization for educators, called the MEA’s informed-consent form a scare tactic. “We’ve seen tactics like this in other states,” said Alexandra Freeze, spokeswoman...
  • Regulatory Regime Tries to Put the Brakes on Competition

    08/19/2014 11:11:23 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/15/2014 | Michael Reitz
    Have you ever given a friend, co-worker or babysitter a ride in your car? You could be a criminal. Car service apps such as Uber and Lyft allow a user to request a car, pay the driver and provide feedback about the ride — all using one’s smartphone. Drivers for these car services commonly use their own vehicles and users can specify their preferred vehicle type. Ride-sharing apps have exploded in popularity in recent years. Uber, for example, now operates in 70 cities since its 2009 launch. Whether it’s the novelty of hailing a ride via smartphone, or the responsive...
  • University Employees Break From Union For Better Service At Lower Cost

    08/15/2014 11:37:46 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/15/2014 | Anne Schieber
    ALLENDALE — Support staff and technical workers at Grand Valley State University are negotiating their first contract since decertifying from the Michigan Education Association in January. The group formed its own independent union called the Alliance of Professional Support Staff (APSS). President Coreen Bedford said employees are much more favorable to the new union. "We have fewer members exercising right-to-work than we had fee payers with the MEA," she said. Bedford believes had the group not formed its own union, many more members under the MEA would have opted out. She believes that over the years the MEA failed to...
  • Will Michigan Taxpayers Be Giving KISS Millions For the Rock Band's Film?

    08/15/2014 10:39:36 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    KISS rock band front man Gene Simmons has earned a national reputation for his blunt talk regarding socialism and the government's role in the lives of citizens. Simmons told Forbes in 2012, “I don’t believe the government should stick their noses into the rise and fall of the economy. I don’t believe in the welfare system, I believe in the job system. … I don’t borrow money, and I fund myself and I create jobs and I hate anybody that’s looking for a free ride.” Which raises the question: Would the KISS front man approve of the $8.2 million in...
  • The Culture of Freedom Versus the Culture of Force

    08/15/2014 9:12:55 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/13/2014 | Dan Armstrong
    Prior to joining the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, I anchored and reported local television news stories. The job required meeting new people and asking them questions. Over the course of 10 years and interviewing thousands of people, the question that got the best response is “Why?” When asking heroes who rescue people from dangerous situations, they normally responded, “It’s what anyone would do in that situation.” When asking police officers, firefighters and EMTs why they chose to go into those fields, most said, “I want to help people.” When asking teachers why they decided to choose their career path,...
  • A Short History of the Supreme Court Case That Ended Forced Unionization of Non-Government Employees

    08/15/2014 6:17:35 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/15/2014 | Patrick Wright
    Organized labor’s multi-state scheme to gain members, money and influence began to unravel in 2009 when a Michigan housewife started searching for answers on why “union dues” were being taken out of the checks she received from the State of Michigan for providing daycare to parents who were in a welfare to work program. Sherry Loar owns Baby Steps Childcare Center, a limited liability corporation that she operates out of her home in Petoskey. Sherry’s persistence led to the investigation and discovery of the breadth of the union scheme and its flimsy legal justification. Now, nearly five years later, the...
  • Public School District Constantly Promoting Far-Left Political Views

    08/14/2014 5:37:14 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/13/2014 | Tom Gantert
    "Dark money" being used to shield political donors, bashing school choice, linking perceived societal wrongs to the "Koch Brothers" – that's the usual buzz of many left-wing websites. But controversial posts about those topics and more are also the norm for one Michigan school district. Articles about many of the usual liberal complaints fill the Twitter feed of Oakland Schools, the intermediate school district for Oakland County. It recently retweeted a post titled “Corporate America May Have the Answer for Dark Money Transparency.” While most school district Twitter accounts promote upcoming school events or awards won by staff, Oakland Schools...
  • FLASHBACK: No Horses, But Detroit Water Department Employs 'Horseshoer'

    08/13/2014 6:34:43 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 16 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/13/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Despite having no horses, the water and sewerage department for the city of Detroit employs a horseshoer. Yet even with a department so bloated that it has a horseshoer and no horses, the local union president said it is "not possible" to eliminate positions. Union rules have turned the department into a government jobs program, some critics say. The horseshoer’s job description is "to shoe horses and to do general blacksmith work … and to perform related work as required." The description was last updated in 1967. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has a large debt, rising water...
  • Why are RTW States Gaining Population?

    08/13/2014 11:02:55 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/13/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    If you listen to opponents of right-to-work laws, the claims are dire. But if laws allowing workers the choice of whether to pay money to a union lead to such alleged problems, why are so many people moving from forced unionism states to right-to-work states? My colleague Michael Van Beek takes a look at a new study by Richard Vedder, an Ohio University professor and member of the Mackinac Center Board of Scholars, and researcher Jonathon Robe. Long story short, they show significant gains in income and jobs for right-to-work states. But they also include the following statistic: “[T]he proportion...
  • Almost No Teachers In District's Low-Performing Schools Considered 'Ineffective'

    08/12/2014 10:34:17 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 11 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    For the last two years, every high school student in the Lansing School District received a letter from the district stating that all three high schools are on the state’s low-performing watch list. The letters are mandated after a school is designated as one of the worst performing in the state by finishing in the bottom 5 percent academically. Yet, according to the district, the effectiveness of its teachers is increasing significantly while it has had more schools put on the state’s low-performing watch list. In 2009-10, the district had one school on the persistently lowest achieving list. That number...
  • School District Revokes Authorization of Popular Charter

    08/12/2014 6:03:53 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/10/2014 | Anne Schieber
    LIVONIA — After putting the popular Hinoki International School in a box, Livonia Public Schools has now, in a phrase, thrown away the key. The school board voted 6 to 1 to end the charter public school’s authorization — one year before it was to expire. Without a charter authorization, Hinoki is ineligible for state funding grants to function as a free public school. "The contract with the school carried with it various provisions under which the contract would be revoked. Included is a provision calling for automatic revocation if the Academy has lost more than 50 percent of its...
  • How Cities Are Solving Their Pension Problems – and the Bill That Makes It Easier

    08/11/2014 1:06:39 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/10/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    There’s a saying among those who analyze public sector pension systems: “Pension don’t get funded – they get underfunded.” That is certainly true around Michigan. A review of the defined benefit pension systems for the 100 largest cities in the state shows that the vast majorities are underfunded – that is, that the municipality has promised more benefits than it has put away money for. But there is hope. Many cities have begun shifting new employees to a 401k-type, defined-contribution plan. For these plans, workers are given a (usually generous) match of money put into a fund. It is impossible...
  • Michigan Loses 40K Grads; Corporate Welfare Program Paid $127K Each To Keep 125 of Them

    08/11/2014 6:24:05 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/8/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Attracting about 125 college graduates a year won’t do much to stop an annual exodus of nearly 40,000. But the corporate welfare arm of Michigan government is happy about spending $126 million for that result. James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, questions the assertion made by a state official that a Michigan Economic Development Corporation program is helping reverse a “brain drain.” Paula Sorrell, the Senior Vice President for Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital for the MEDC, made her pitch for how her organization is helping stop the exodus of young college graduates...
  • Remembering Milton Friedman on His 102nd Birthday

    08/08/2014 10:50:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Mackinac Center for Public Policy ^ | 8/6/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    Lovers of liberty are today recognizing the birthday of intellectual powerhouse and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, who was born 102 years ago in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant parents. Friedman, who died in 2006, was my intellectual hero. As I have noted in previous blog posts, Friedman revolutionized the economic science while teaching it to the everyman. He is arguably the most influential economist of the 20th Century, perhaps (unfortunately) next to John Maynard Keynes. Friedman cut so many new paths it is difficult to sum up his contributions to economics and public policy in a book, let alone a...
  • What Will Cities Do To Solve Their Pension Problems?

    08/07/2014 12:34:21 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 25 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/4/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    As pension funding crowds out important functions of local governments like police and fire protection, roads and even streetlights, many municipalities have begun shifting towards 401k-type accounts for new employees. But other cities have not. Capitol Confidential has examined the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) of Michigan’s 100 largest municipalities. Of the 10 municipalities with the lowest funding ratios for their pension systems, only two of them have begun shifting employees away from the defined benefit pension system. Lincoln Park has only put away 32 cents on the dollar for its pension obligations. It began offering the option...
  • The Public Sector Union Scam

    08/07/2014 9:46:46 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/7/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Private-sector unionization is much different than the public-sector counterpart historically and in modern-day practice. Under the National Labor Relations Act, private-sector unions are allowed to extract dues and fees from workers if the employer is a unionized workplace. The NLRA, passed in 1935 during Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term, does not, however, apply to public sector employees, including state and federal workers, because the thinking was that this would over-politicize government and cause a conflict of interest between unions and politicians. In a Weekly Standard piece by Fred Siegel, a visiting professor at St. Francis College, and Dan DiSalvo, a...
  • New Evidence: Right-to-Work Laws Work

    08/07/2014 6:10:20 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/3/2014 | Michael Van Beek
    A 2013 Mackinac Center study found positive economic effects for states with right-to-work laws. RTW states enjoy increased real personal income growth, population growth and employment growth. New evidence supports this finding. The evidence comes from a Competitive Enterprise Institute study. Authors Richard Vedder (a member of the Center’s Board of Scholars) and Jonathon Robe control for a variety of factors that impact state economic growth. They then compare the performance of RTW states and non-RTW states from 1977 to 2012. A chief finding is “that the overall effect of a RTW law is to increase economic growth rates by...