VIEWPOINTS

How to Find and Eliminate Wasted State Money

January 2010       V2010-01

The state budget process seems to lurch from one crisis to the next, but savings — and budget cuts — would be possible if the state were to objectively measure spending and target waste.

The Expensive Mystery of "Project Cherrywood"

January 2010       V2010-02

Inscrutably named "Project Cherrywood," a $2 million refundable tax subsidy from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to the Service Employees International Union, should raise several red flags for Michigan residents.

Price Theory in One Lesson for Legislators

January 2010       V2010-03

The economic law of demand should be an easy concept to grasp, even for Michigan's legislators. Let's hope they apply it soon.

Most School Health Care Plans Are Too Expensive for Michigan

February 2010     V2010-04

Public school teachers receive health insurance benefits that cost almost 40 percent more than the average Michigan family's benefit package. Yet they pay significantly less — if anything — for those benefits. School districts must decide if they will continue to fund these generous benefits at the expense of educational programs and taxpayers.

Evaluations of Early Education

March 2010          V2010-08

Study results and real-world examples show that spending tax dollars on preschool produces little initial return and no long-term benefits.

Michigan Service Tax Proves (Groucho) Marx Correct

March 2010          V2010-09

Lansing policymakers want to extend the sales tax to a number of services in order to resolve their ongoing, self-created overspending crisis. Yet the state already taxes a number of services and already receives more money than would be expected given its poor economy.

Headlee's Social Welfare Problem

February 2010     V2010-05

Tax hike proponents argue that the room between the Headlee amendment's revenue cap and actual revenues in Michigan demonstrate that the state tax system is outmoded. Revenue is only below the cap, however, when payments from government programs are included. Including social welfare payments is hardly an indicator that Michigan's broken economy can afford more taxes.

Pension Obligation Bonds: Borrowing Our Way To Prosperity?

February 2010     V2010-06

State legislators are contemplating bills that would let local governments sell bonds to help pay retiree health care benefits for current and future local government employees. In creating this debt, the legislation is effectively seeking to guarantee the benefits. This is reckless and unfair to future generations of taxpayers; instead, the benefits should be scaled back or eliminated.

Pledging Regulatory Reform

March 2010          V2010-07

Candidates seeking elected office in Michigan should be asked to sign a pledge to reform the state's job-killing regulatory bureaucracy.

JOURNALS

MichiganScience

MS2010-01

Key stories:  Risk assessment, Climategate, Norman Borlaug.

Michigan Capitol Confidential

MCC2010-01

Key stories: Congressional pork, public trust, property rights, global warming.

STUDIES

Howell Education Association v. Howell Board of Education

S2009-11

Just what constitutes a public record? Are documents created by a public official on a public computer system "public records" under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act? In this "friend of the court" brief, Mackinac Senior Legal Analyst Patrick J. Wright argues the answer is "yes" and warns that a failure to readily disclose such documents would seriously undermine FOIA's value.

School Privatization Survey 2009

S2009-10

With Michigan's public school districts facing a decline in per-pupil funding, more districts are contracting out for at least one of the three major school support services — food, custodial and transportation — than ever before. This year's survey of school districts found that 44.6 percent of all Michigan school districts contract out for at least one of these services, a 5.6 percent increase over 2008. This year, new contracts alone are expected to save $6.9 million.

VIDEO

Michael & Me

Movie producer Michael Moore, who railed against corporate bailouts in "Capitalism: A Love Story," is put on the spot after it is discovered that his production company applied — and was approved — for subsidies under Michigan's film incentive program. Communications Specialist Kathy Hoekstra uses footage of Moore to expose the contradictions.

Is The MHBCCC Defunded?

This video details the ongoing and curious developments surrounding the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council, which the Michigan Legislature voted to defund. The organization continues to receive funding from the Department of Human Services, a move that has legislators, home-based day care providers and taxpayers upset.

Are You My Employer?

If the 40,000 home-based day care operators in Michigan are considered dues-paying union members, they must work for someone, right? Communications Specialist Kathy Hoekstra investigates whether the Michigan Department of Human Services, the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council, Mott Community College or the state itself claim to be the "employer" of these entrepreneurs.