Program: Historical administration and services

Appropriation:

All from GF/GP:

$4,940,800

Total:

$4,940,800[26]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds administration and services for Michigan’s historical programs.  The Michigan Historical Center’s web site explains that the center “preserves and interprets Michigan’s past and helps people discover, enjoy and find inspiration in their heritage.”[27]  The center’s nearly 80 employees oversee and administer five main components of the state’s historical program, including the Michigan Historical Museum System, State Archives of Michigan, State Historic Preservation Office, Office of the State Archaeologist, and Michigan History magazine.  The center is also responsible for overseeing implementation of the federal National Register of Historic Places program in Michigan and shares with the federal government the duty of managing the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve in Lake Huron.

The Michigan Historical Commission, created in 1913,[28] serves as the advisory board to the center.  It consists of six members appointed by the governor to terms of six years.  The commission, in conjunction with the Department of History, Arts, and Libraries, administers the State Register of Historic Sites and several other historical programs.

Recommended Action:

The Legislature should downsize, outsource or eliminate the following agencies and programs:

Ten historic museums and sites throughout the state focus on themes in Michigan history including native peoples, early French explorers, miners, loggers, settlers, a Victorian family, and the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps.[29] Each of these museums and sites may be worthy and important; however, it does not follow that the state should assume all the costs associated with owning and operating them.  Museums funded entirely through private philanthropy and attendance fees exist throughout the country. State and local governments also have successfully transferred responsibility for public museums to private, nonprofit groups, as Milwaukee did in 1992, maintaining and even improving service while ending a constant drain on the treasury.  The Legislature could transfer management of Michigan’s state historic museums and sites to private nonprofit groups.  Approximate Savings:  $3,952,640. 

Approximately 20 percent of the expenditure for the “Historical administration and services” line item funds the work of state archivists; positions not recommended for elimination.

Program: Heritage publications

Appropriation:

All from Special Revenue Funds:

$700,000

Total:

$700,000[30]

 

Program Description:

This appropriation funds Michigan History magazine and other Michigan specific publications.  Michigan History is a state-produced bimonthly periodical, established by statute in 1913[31] and was first printed in 1917 as a scholarly journal for the purpose of recording Michigan history for posterity.  It evolved into its current glossy magazine-style format with pictures and illustrations in 1978. The magazine also produces promotional items and literature for Michigan Historical Center, including books, posters, mugs, calendars and other items. 

Recommended Action:

Funding for Michigan History magazine should be eliminated.  While promoting and chronicling Michigan history is a worthy endeavor, there is no compelling reason to force taxpayers to support state-produced publications on the subject.  Each year, many thousands of books and magazines are published on a wide variety of topics, history included, by private entities who are funded voluntarily by only those who are most interested in their topics.[32] Savings: $700,000.