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Articles Posted by MichCapCon

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  • 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...
  • After Jobs Failure, Taxpayers Giving Solar Company Another Shot

    08/06/2014 1:50:32 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/2/2014 | Tom Gantert
    In 2009, then Gov. Jennifer Granholm hailed Suniva as a company that would help turn the state into the “epicenter” of manufacturing green energy products. She said Suniva was opening a photovoltaic plant in Saginaw Township that would create 500 jobs over the next five years. That plant never came to fruition, joining several other solar projects that didn't work out in Michigan. But the process is starting again with more job predictions and state subsidies if they come through this time. Suniva, a Georgia-based company, was going to invest $250 million in 2009 and would get a $15 million...
  • Utility Appeals Wind Turbine Noise Court Ruling

    08/06/2014 6:33:06 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/3/2014 | Jack Spencer
    Consumers Energy is appealing the 51st Circuit Court ruling that upheld Mason County’s determination that the Lake Winds Energy Plant near Ludington is in violation of the county’s 45-decibel noise ordinance. Arguing that the County’s decision was an “erroneous ruling,” the utility filed a 38-page appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals on July 18. In addition, Consumers Energy is saying that if the ruling by 51st Circuit Court Judge Richard Cooper were allowed to stand, it could have an impact on many other wind turbine plants across the state. “This has implications beyond just Mason County,” Dennis Marvin, spokesman...
  • The Worst Funded Pension Systems In Michigan

    08/01/2014 5:42:33 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 7 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/30/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    A large cause of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy in 2013 was its grossly underfunded retiree systems for public employees. At the time, the estimates of the amount of unfunded liabilities in the general pension system ran from 94 percent to 65 percent. But few people realize that many of Michigan’s largest cities have pension benefit systems in far worse conditions than Detroit. A review of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) by Capitol Confidential of the employee pension systems for Michigan’s 100 largest municipalities shows that many of them are 65 percent funded or worse. One system, Lincoln Park, is only...
  • Detroit: The Triumph of Progressive Public Policy

    07/31/2014 6:24:18 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 10 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/30/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    FLASHBACK STORY FROM BEFORE DETROIT'S BANKRUPTCY Imagine a city where all the major economic planks of the statist or "progressive" platform have been enacted: A "living wage" ordinance, far above the federal minimum wage, for all public employees and private contractors. A school system that spends significantly more per pupil than the national average. A powerful school employee union that militantly defends the exceptional pay, benefits and job security it has won for its members. Other government employee unions that do the same for their members. A tax system that aggressively redistributes income from businesses and the wealthy to the...
  • Early Returns On Michigan As a Right-to-Work State: Incomes Rising

    07/30/2014 5:58:02 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/30/2014 | Tom Gantert
    When Michigan passed right-to-work in December of 2012, critics were quick to predict that workers’ compensation would plummet. Union officials derided it as “right-to-work for less.” Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said that right-to-work legislation would lower employee wages. But the early returns show that hasn’t happened. Michigan’s per-capita personal income increased from $38,291 in 2012 (before right-to-work became law) to $39,215 in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. That increase was the ninth highest in the country. Per-capita personal income includes income from all sources divided by the number of people...
  • Obamacare's Survival up to State Legislators

    07/29/2014 1:18:51 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/26/2014 | Jack McHugh
    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has just ruled that the federal health care law does not authorize insurance subsidies provided through health care “exchanges” that were set up by the federal government. Only exchanges set up by the states can qualify for these taxpayer subsidies. D.C. Circuit appeal rulings are especially significant because, unlike appeals courts for other districts, they can affect the entire nation, not just one region. Given a contradictory ruling from the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court (which directly affects four states in the Southeast), the issue is likely to be taken up by...
  • Michigan State Budget Has Increased Almost $5 Billion the Past Three Years

    07/29/2014 12:30:16 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/26/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Amid all the publicity of the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy and bailout, the scramble to find money for road repairs and school superintendents who have spun funding increases as reductions, what may be lost is that the overall state budget is projected to increase by $2 billion in fiscal 2014-15. In fact, the state will spend about $4.7 billion more than it did in 2011-12, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. An increase in federal money accounts for $2 billion of that $4.7 billion increase over the past three years. The state has appropriated $53.12 billion for 2014-15. The overall...
  • Sentencing Reforms Could Save Tax Dollars

    07/29/2014 11:20:53 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/25/2014 | Josiah Kollmeyer
    All criminal justice systems face competing tensions of protecting public safety while not overburdening taxpayers, and Michigan’s is no exception. Calls to reduce financial costs often face scrutiny on the grounds of potentially compromised security. In a Lansing hearing on July 1, which I was able to attend, the Council of State Governments brought to Michigan several suggestions related to criminal sentencing, claiming that these policy changes could ease the financial burden on taxpayers while simultaneously maintaining or even improving public safety. The Council advocates for the greater use of “supervision terms” as part of criminal sentences, with close monitoring...
  • Pension Malpractice and Fund Raids: Everyone's doing it!

    07/29/2014 5:47:06 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 4 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/24/2014 | Jack McHugh
    A Wall Street Journal editorial bemoans gimmicks used to “pay for” a federal road funding bill without either raising taxes or cutting other spending, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday: “Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp is paying for the additional spending with a combination of new custom fees, transfers from a fund to repair leaky underground fuel-storage tanks, and changes to pension taxes. This "pension-smoothing"—which will supply $6.4 billion of the revenue—is an especially ugly budget ruse, and thus increasingly a Congressional favorite. “Under smoothing, employers are given permission to delay contributions to pension plans,...
  • Hunting Fees Going To Private Landowners

    07/25/2014 5:14:22 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/23/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    A new grant program in Michigan takes extra money from hunting and fishing fees and distributes it to private landowners. The state Department of Natural Resources recently announced 12 wildlife habitat grant winners for the "Deer PLAN" (Private Land Assistance Network). This grant is available to private landowners in six counties in northern Michigan ostensibly to improve deer habitat. One hunter wasn't thrilled about the program. Tom Wills is an outdoorsman from Quinnesec in the Upper Peninsula. "I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that Michigan DNR is giving my license fees to a dozen private land...
  • District Sidelines Successful Charter School To Financially Benefit Itself

    07/24/2014 8:36:03 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/22/2014 | Anne Schieber
    While enrollment in the Livonia Public Schools has been declining, a charter public school in its shadow has been growing in popularity. And now that growth could come to an abrupt halt. Shortly before the school year ended, the district notified Hinoki International School that it was terminating its building lease and starting a carbon-copy Japanese language immersion program in the fall. The move will essentially put Hinoki out of business because the charter cannot find space on short notice in the land-locked city of Livonia. Hinoki is authorized by Livonia Public Schools and must operate within its boundaries. The...
  • Academic research favors low-tax states

    07/24/2014 5:16:05 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/23/2014 | Mike Van Beek
    A recent Michigan Future report calls into question a common economic theory: increasing taxes tends to lead to less private-sector growth. Comparing Michigan’s economic performance over the last two decades to that of Minnesota’s, the report claims that “rais[ing] taxes on the wealthy and businesses to invest even more in public services” was the Gopher State’s key to success. While this anecdote convinced the Detroit Free Press, a large body of economic research does not support this view. For example, a new working paper published by the Mercatus Center empirically examines the relationship between state taxes and economic growth and...
  • State Board Prez Fights Parental Choice

    07/23/2014 3:58:37 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/20/2014 | Tom Gantert
    The president of the Michigan State Board of Education said there are “detrimental effects” on education performance with an "unregulated" school marketplace where parents are left to decide. John Austin made the comments in an email when asked about accountability of charter public schools. He said parents don’t have “perfect information” about education quality and “many parents and their students can't execute a choice if they wanted to… they don't have time energy, transportation money to pick or get to a different school.” (See Austin's full comment here). In a later phone interview, Austin said he considers Michigan to be...
  • Michigan 8th Congressional District GOP Primary Getting Feisty

    07/23/2014 6:24:31 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/20/2014 | Tom Gantert
    When it comes to major federal issues such as health care, energy plans and the role the government should have in banking and housing, Republicans Tom McMillin and Mike Bishop have very similar views. Both are well-known conservatives running to replace U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell, for the 8th Congressional District seat. Rogers is retiring. Bishop was the Senate Majority Leader under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Since leaving office, Bishop has been the chief legal officer for International Bancard Corp. and is an adjunct professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. McMillin was elected to his third term in the...
  • What Do Teachers Want to Support?

    07/22/2014 5:53:29 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/20/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    The economic effects of state right-to-work laws are important, but these laws are significant for other reasons, too, namely the fact that employees cannot be forced to contribute money to a union they disagree with as a condition of their employment. This is especially significant because many labor unions, particularly in forced unionism states, are political organizations that spend money on issues that most people would consider partisan and contentious. Allysia Finley of The Wall Street Journal recently covered the National Education Association’s annual convention and explains how that union chose to spend its membership dues. The Michigan Education Association,...
  • Union Urges Dems To Vote In GOP Primary

    07/18/2014 2:43:59 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/17/2014 | Jack Spencer
    A division of the Michigan Education Association's political action committee, which is funded in part by teachers, is urging its members to cast votes in Michigan's 47th House District Republican primary even if they consider themselves to be Democrats. In a letter labeled: "IMPORTANT!," the MEA/Livingston County PAC Screening and Recommending Committee pressed union members to cast votes for Handy Township Supervisor Henry Vaupel, a Fowlerville veterinarian who is one of five candidates on the GOP primary ballot. A designation at the top of the letter reads in bold print: "To: All MEA members residing in House District 47," then...
  • New Deal Fruit Mandates Means Millions of Pounds of Cherries Getting Dumped

    07/18/2014 5:53:11 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 9 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/17/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    Ron French has a great article in Bridge Magazine looking at "the crazy economics of Michigan's favorite pitted fruit." The piece describes some of the federal cherry regulations that are mostly left over from the New Deal of the 1930s: [T]he tart cherry industry is told by the U.S. government how much of their product they can put on the market. The Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB), operating under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), sets restrictions on the percentage of the tart cherry crop that can be sold. Some years the share of the market restricted from...
  • Manufacturing Job Growth Helps Move Michigan Ahead

    07/17/2014 12:48:53 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Gov. Rick Snyder's Facebook page boasted recently that Michigan led the nation in manufacturing job growth in May by adding 4,500 jobs. In fact, from May 2012 to May 2014, Michigan was first in the nation in gross manufacturing job gains with 25,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas was second with 22,000 jobs added. Michigan has been sixth in that time span in percentage growth (4.7 percent). Montana led the nation in percentage growth over the past two years at 8.5 percent. University of Michigan economist Don Grimes said Michigan's economy is doing well, but he...
  • The Free Enterprise Philosophy In a 12-Cell Matrix

    07/17/2014 7:30:18 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/15/2014 | Dale Haywood
    Dale M. Haywood served on the board of scholars for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy from near its founding until his death in 2006. Haywood taught economics and philosophy at Northwood University and delivered a speech that properly "describes why private property, a free market, a profit and loss system and limited government are necessary components for allowing people to prosper." His lecture, which he gave countless times to college students, uses a 12-cell matrix to explain the free enterprise philosophy. Below are the 12 cells with four points each discussing components, meaning and purpose. Each point has a...
  • Michigan Teacher Pension Costs Increase To Nearly $1 Billion Per Year

    07/16/2014 11:20:01 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 8 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/14/2014 | Tom Gantert
    What started out as a $155 million tab in 2012 for public school employee pension and retirement health care costs will increase to $945 million by 2015, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. The driver of the escalating costs is MPSERS' unfunded liability. The pension system's unfunded liability was $25.8 billion in 2013, up from $24.3 billion in 2012. The state's payments also go to defray retiree health care costs. The costs for the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System includes the $882.7 million the state is projecting to spend on retirement contributions for K-12 education in 2015 plus the...
  • Union Bashing 'Big Oil' Has Pensions Invested In Exxon and Chevron

    07/16/2014 8:25:36 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 2 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/13/2014 | Manny Lopez
    Listen to the Michigan Education Association and you would think that anyone who dares talk to teachers about their rights is trying to destroy education in America. To some extent, the rhetoric is expected. Changes to the status quo in education mean that unions lose their stranglehold on the tax dollars they’ve become accustomed to getting with little accountability. The MEA does not like that the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is informing teachers of their rights under Michigan's right-to-work law. Teachers who belong to the MEA but do not want to support the union for any variety of reasons...
  • Failing Charter Public Schools Are Shut Down; Conventional Public Schools Remain Open

    07/16/2014 5:33:53 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 6 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/15/2014 | Tom Gantert
    There are 51 schools that have been in the bottom 5 percent of the Michigan Department of Education's Top-to-Bottom rankings three years in a row. Of those 51 schools, four were charter public schools and three of those four were closed. Meanwhile, the conventional public schools on the list remain open. "Charter schools have traditionally been the only public schools that have been held accountable for their performance," said Michigan Association of Public School Academies President Dan Quisenberry. "If they fail their students, they're closed down. That's never happened with a traditional public school, ever. What we need is this...
  • An intern's brush with bureaucracy

    07/15/2014 10:13:38 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/13/2014 | Zac Dawes
    Gathering up-to-date public pension data is no trivial task. While all municipalities are required to report basic accounting and financial information, many make it quite difficult to obtain. Cities and townships are required to file audits and most list a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) with this information. But just because the reports have to be filed doesn't mean they are easy to find. Even among Michigan's 100 largest municipalities, there are large discrepancies between how the reports are posted online. Taxpayers should take note because politicians across the spectrum and at all levels of government talk about working for...
  • Supreme Court Ruling Opens Door For Daycare Workers To Get Money Back From Union

    07/15/2014 6:50:31 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Michigan daycare operators who had millions of dollars taken from them in a unionization scheme that has since been outlawed, may get some of their money back. On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Harris v. Quinn that people who take care of others and are paid with funds that partially come from the state cannot be unionized because they are not state workers. It also opened the door for Michigan daycare workers involved in a previous, separate scheme to revisit a class action lawsuit to get money back that was taken by the American Federation of...
  • Public School District Benefits By Branching Into Private Schools

    07/15/2014 5:56:50 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/12/2014 | Tom Gantert
    For years, Brighton Area Schools struggled with deficits and saw it balloon to $8.5 million in 2012-2013. That's up from $2.3 million in 2008-2009. However, the district now projects it cannot only be out of deficit, but show a surplus in 2014-15 thanks to its "shared services" program that brought the district $8 million dollars in 2013-14. "Where else are we going to generate $8 million a year?" said Brighton School Board Member Bill Trombley. "What else are you going to do?" Public schools can provide services to private schools in non-core areas such as art, computers, foreign language, music,...
  • School Official Says Illegal Language Should Be Removed From Union Contract

    07/11/2014 1:23:32 PM PDT · by MichCapCon · 1 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/7/2014 | Tom Gantert
    Unlike school officials in some other districts, the assistant superintendent of the Monroe Public Schools acknowledges that its union contract for teachers has provisions that are in violation of the state's right-to-work law and says they should be removed. The union contract, which runs from March 1, 2014 to Aug. 15, 2016, states that a teacher must pay union dues or an agency fee as a condition of employment. That is in conflict with the state's right-to-work law that took effect March 28, 2013. Assistant Superintendent Ryan McLeod said the school district doesn't follow the illegal practices spelled out in...
  • Happy Birthday, America

    07/11/2014 10:41:36 AM PDT · by MichCapCon
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/4/2014 | Michael LaFaive
    The Fourth of July is the only day of the year singled out by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in which employees are actually encouraged to celebrate. According to the Center’s employee handbook: All staff are encouraged to celebrate Independence Day with passion and verve, remembering it as the signatory day of a document embodying the most sublime of political ideals, an apogee in mankind's quest for liberty of thought and action, the restoration of which is the vision of our organization. We take human liberty very seriously. It is more than marketing. Sometimes our love for liberty manifests...
  • What the 4th of July Means to Me

    07/11/2014 9:23:21 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 3 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/9/2014 | Kendra Shrode
    As we watch countless numbers of human beings struggle for freedom and liberty around the globe, it is good to reflect upon the blessings we enjoy in the land that we love — this United States of America. This is my 67th Fourth of July celebration and my memories of the day are some of those very blessings…family time in many places. All were amazing…captivated by fireworks in small-town America…aboard a small boat on the Mississippi River and also a huge cruise liner in Alaska…on the Palace Green in Williamsburg, Va.…in several baseball parks…attending the Baltimore Symphony at Oregon Ridge…attending...
  • Michigan Taxes Junkyard Dogs

    07/11/2014 7:10:21 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 5 replies
    Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/10/2014 | Jarrett Skorup
    On Aug. 5, most voters will be focused on the primary elections for candidates. But there is another important issue on the ballot that day. Voters will be asked to approve or reject legislation reforming Michigan's personal property tax. This is a tax businesses pay annually on the value of their equipment. A "yes" vote would eliminate this cost for small businesses and phase it out for manufacturing companies. In Michigan, that means junkyards are paying taxes on the value of their dogs, hotels on their drapery, hair salons on their leftover shampoo, and bars on the worth of their...
  • Insurance 52% to 119% Costlier Under Obamacare

    07/11/2014 5:25:11 AM PDT · by MichCapCon · 13 replies
    Capitol Confidential ^ | 7/10/2014 | Jack McHugh
    The Manhattan Institute has just released an interactive map comparing on a county-by-county basis the least expensive individual health insurance policies available before and after the federal health care law went into effect. To make the analysis more fair, the earlier rates are adjusted to reflect higher prices paid by individuals with pre-existing conditions (the methodology is explained here). These are then compared to the lowest rates currently available on the federal exchange. In Michigan, statewide average rates for men ages 27, 40 and 64 rose 107 percent, 73 percent and 52 percent, respectively. For women of the same ages,...