[Photo of James M. Hohman]

James M. Hohman

Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy

James M. Hohman is assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He holds a degree in economics from Northwood University in Midland, Mich.

New Census Data: Michigan Economy Suffering More Than State Budget

New Census Bureau data published today confirm a trend shown in previous releases: While the amount of tax revenue flowing into the Michigan treasury has fallen, the state's tax trends look brighter than the state's economy. … more

What Transparency Should Look Like at the MEDC (but Doesn't)

The award of a $9.1 million tax credit to a convicted embezzler has raised serious concerns about the lack of transparency at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The concerns could be alleviated by two transparency/due diligence reforms that would protect the state (and taxpayers) from fraud. However, the real issue is not whether the occasional criminal wins an "incentive" deal, but the lack of transparency that characterizes this entire operation. This is the measure by which the responses of politicians and economic development bureaucrats to this embarrassment should assessed. … more

MEGA Jobs Announcements Symbolic Drop in the Bucket

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority yesterday approved its latest batch of tax credits to lure large business projects to Michigan.
Despite the press release, these big business projects are just not that consequential to Michigan's total economy.  … more

Supposed Benefits of Pension Obligation Bonds Sink With Market

Michigan legislators who might consider borrowing billions to prop up government employee pension and post-retirement health care benefits should first look at recent developments in California. That state's massive state pension system, CalPERS, may lower its expectations for investment returns. According to the Wall Street Journal, it is considering a drop in its return expectations from 7.75 percent to as low as 5 or 6 percent. … more

Employment Creation in Michigan Illustrates the Ineffectiveness of the State's Incentives

The latest Business Employment Dynamics numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that from the third quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009, 778,025 jobs were created in Michigan and 1,144,655 jobs disappeared. Among other things, the figures starkly illustrate just how ineffective the state's economic incentive programs are. … more

Service Tax: $1.3 Billion Tax Hike on Thousands of Services

The Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency has performed an initial review of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's executive budget recommendation, which reveals that the proposed service tax would actually raise taxes by $1.3 billion — much more than the $900 million originally reported. … more

Michigan: A National Leader in Tax Hikes

Gov. Jennifer Granholm argues (with some remorse) that during her seven-year tenure, Michigan has cut more from its budget than any other state. The claim is dubious, but another milestone about which she does not boast is verifiable: Since Gov. Granholm's first inauguration in January 2003, Michigan has led the nation in tax increases.
States rely on four major taxes to finance their general operations: income, sales, business and tobacco taxes. Gov. Granholm has signed into law increases in three of these: tobacco taxes in 2004 and business and income taxes in 2007. Only two other states, Maryland and New York, have increased all three of these taxes since 2002. … more

Gubernatorial Fact Check

In presenting her executive budget, Gov. Jennifer Granholm stated, "I have cut more state spending than any governor in Michigan history, having resolved more than $10 billion in deficits since 2003." It's unnecessary to state that one of those budgets was "resolved" with a $1.4 billion tax hike — not exactly cutting more than anyone — but even the $10 billion is an overstatement. … more

Which Would You Choose: Growth or Economic Decline?

No, we wouldn't want to be like Mississippi. Flint wouldn't want to be like Dallas. Those places have like, economic growth and stuff. … more

Michigan’s Brains Remain Constant

The exodus of young and educated young people from Michigan is one of those “clear, simple and wrong” explanations often cited as a factor in Michigan’s poor economic performance. The reality is that young people are already highly mobile even in a good economy, and that even in Michigan’s ongoing bad times, we're actually doing pretty well in attracting college graduates to the state. … more