[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.

Wasted Talent

More college grads doesn't mean economic success. … more

Film Incentive Bill Sows Its Own Expansion

Legislators want to give more of your money to Hollywood. … more

Michigan Pensions Good at Controlling Fraud

More work needs to be done on controlling costs, though. … more

School Privatization Survey Results Available

Outsourcing helps public schools save millions of dollars. … more

State Admits Compensation Problem

State employment down 21 percent, compensation up 52 percent. … more

No State Favors For Fastest Growing Companies

No state corporate welfare went to these fastest growers. … more

State Compensation Problem Bigger Than Advertised

The state’s negotiators should be on solid footing when asking for concessions. … more

No Auto Resurgence Yet

While the Detroit 3 are now profitable and optimistic, clear job gains have yet to be prevalent. … more

Michigan Tax Reform Signed

The Michigan Business Tax will soon be no more. … more

Don't Confuse Estimates With Data

Center analyst explains job growth estimates to reporter. … more

Michigan Stands Out in Tax Redistribution

Michigan's EITC among most generous in the country. … more

'Brutal' MSU Budget Cut: Just 4.5 Percent

Michigan State University President Lou Ann Simon has characterized proposed state aid cuts as "brutal," although she gamely acknowledges "We can make this work." … more

Detroit Free Press Editor Points out Film Incentive Flaws

As Detroit Free Press editor Stephen Henderson points out, the film incentive was meant to generate a film industry in Michigan that would exist without special favors. In light of this goal, the incentive has so far been only an expensive failure. … more

Governor Looks At Public Employee Compensation

In his executive budget, Gov. Rick Snyder recommends reforms to the compensation offered to employees by Michigan’s state and local governments. Considering that employment costs are a primary reason why government continues to grow, this is a commendable move. … more

More Good News for Michigan’s Economy

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provided some encouraging news that indicated Michigan’s economy continues to recover. The state’s private sector added 221,292 jobs in the second quarter of 2010 and lost only 184,025. … more

Detroit Public Schools Contracts Out Custodial Services

Mlive.com reports that Detroit Public Schools signed contracts with private vendors to clean and maintain the district’s buildings. DPS will join 145 other school districts in Michigan that contract out for these services. … more

How Bad is Detroit’s Detroitification?

Mackinac Center analyst Jack McHugh has called the long process of hollowing out a private economy to prop up an unsustainable government, "Detroitification." Detroit's most recent comprehensive annual financial report shows just how much the title-city itself has been hollowed. … more

Michigan Posts Record Drop in Unemployment Rate for December

According to data released by the Michigan Office of Labor Market Information today, the state’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.7 percentage points from 12.4 percent in November 2010 to 11.7 percent in December 2010. This is a record for this data series that began in 1976. … more

Bonuses Included, Michigan Government Benefits Exceed Private Sector by $5.7 Billion

In an article in The Detroit News, Michigan Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield, states that government workers get generous health and pension benefits in lieu of bonuses, apparently implying that the two offset. Thankfully, there are data on the issue to check his theory. … more

Gov. Granhom Claims Ignorance of MEGA Failures

If a person sits through Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s video portrait, they might think that the governor is interested and aware of her economic development programs. She spends nearly the entire production on her efforts to foster job creation. Unfortunately, a recent MIRS interview (subscription required) shows that she is blind to the failures of the programs she supports. … more

The Mackinac Center Is not 'Pro-Business'

The Mackinac Center is pro-free markets, not necessarily “pro-business.” The following excerpt from an article by Luigi Zingales does a good job of describing the difference (although the Center is not a lobbyist, either). Zingales is a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  … more

Michigan Falls to Bottom 10 in Key Economic Measure

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released a key measure of economic growth today that showed that Michigan has gone over a decade without increased production. New gross domestic product figures, a measure of the value of an area’s goods and services production, showed that Michigan’s economy produced 8 percent less in 2009 than it did in 2000 when adjusted for inflation. The nation rose 15 percent during this period. … more

Wishful Reporting of Governor’s Investment Missions

In Gov. Jennifer Granholm's weekly radio address, she ballyhoos her investment missions abroad by claiming that they're responsible for creating or retaining 20,000 Michigan jobs. Unfortunately, she continues to mistake job announcements for job creation. … more

Michigan’s Economy: From Worst to Average

There's no question that Michigan's economy has performed poorly over the past decade. Essentially, the state lost one out of every five jobs since employment peaked in 2000. However, Michigan's economic trends have changed in recent months. It is no longer the worst performer in the country. In fact, since the end of the U.S. recession, Michigan's performance is average. … more

And They Think California Is a Lost Jobs Basketcase?

Some 867,500 jobs have disappeared from the Great Lakes State since our 2000 employment peak of 4,690,300 jobs. … more

Governor: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose on Job Projections

Gongwer News Service reports that Gov. Jennifer Granholm is unhappy that a new economic forecast estimates that Michigan will start adding jobs next year. But crediting those programs for improving the job estimates is an injudicious use of the forecasts since the economic estimates cited have been optimistic. … more

Broken Windows on Display in Michigan Senate Finance Committee

Mark Adler, a lobbyist for the Michigan Production Alliance, and Carrie Jones, the director of the Michigan Film Office, defended the state's film subsidy program in a Senate Finance Committee meeting today. To do so they employed a long-recognized economic fallacy, the "Broken Window" theory, which only considers economic activity that is "seen" while ignoring unseen economic costs. … more

State Budget Deal Kicks Can Down the Road to New Guys

The fiscal 2011 budget appears done. It contains no systemic reforms or program reductions. Meanwhile, with the end of federal stimulus subsidies, revenue projections for the following fiscal year fall off a cliff. … more

Phony 'Sandbox Party' Uses Taxpayer Dollars to Lobby for More Goverment Spending

A government entity that received $14.6 million of taxpayer money in the current state budget organized a publicity stunt to lobby for more government spending, called the "First Ever Sandbox Party Convention" in East Lansing. … more

July Was a Good Month for Michigan

Last week's state-by-state employment release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Michigan led the nation in job growth from June to July. The state gained an estimated 27,800 jobs in the month. … more

The Secret of Economic Growth in Michigan

In a recent radio interview with Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative Director Michael LaFaive, radio host Tony Conley stated that we should be looking at what Texas and North Carolina are doing to foster economic development. Any benchmarking attempt should first start with the right states, but North Carolina isn't one of them. … more

Public Sector Still Doing All Right

Special interest groups whose members' compensation comes from tax dollars are afraid that Michigan's economic crisis will impact their paychecks. They're right to be concerned since there is less private money left to pay generous public-sector salaries and benefits. … more

New Report Misses the Mark on Higher Education

A new report by the Michigan League for Human Services bemoans the lack of tax money going to higher education. But the authors give a skewed view of appropriations, get some facts wrong, and completely miss the 800-pound gorilla of higher education: that increasing costs drive tuition increases. … more

Michigan Education Association May Help Fund Oklahoma Revenue Grab

Oklahoma's state affiliate of the National Education Association only has 23,451 members, but has nevertheless launched a revenue-grabbing initiative, SQ 744, that will be on the ballot in November. … more

Bill Reveals New Politically Correct Economic Development

A newly introduced bill in Michigan gives new meaning to the phrase "politically correct economic development." … more

Michigan Exports to China Grow

The Chinese market for Michigan goods continues to grow. So it's strange that politicians here continue to point fingers at Chinese trade for Michigan's economic decay. … more

Michigan Public Payrolls Protected in Recent Recession

Since the beginning of the national recession in December 2007, Michigan's private sector has lost 70 times more jobs than its government sector. … more

Governor Surrenders on Service Tax

Michigan taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief: The Detroit Free Press reports that Gov. Jennifer Granholm has abandoned hope that her service tax will become law. At a news conference on an unrelated issue, the Governor stated that she did not expect the Legislature to enact her plan. … more

Census Bureau: Michigan Beats Most States in Tax Revenue Growth

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released state and local government quarterly tax information that shows Michigan's tax revenue continues to outperform the rest of the state economy. Policymakers should keep these figures in mind as Lansing cries poverty over this year's budget. … more

Reality Check: Governor’s Budget 'Poor Mouthing'

Gov. Jennifer Granholm cried poverty yesterday, claiming that her administration already cut 11,000 state employees and that the state cannot make further cuts without lowering "critical services that struggling families count on to survive in this tough economy." However, thanks to higher compensation levels, taxpayers are paying more overall even with fewer workers on the job. … more

MEA Complains About More Money To Spend On Education?

The Michigan Education Association protested in Lansing yesterday to demand more taxpayer money to go to the public school system and to protest recent public school pension reforms. But the pension reforms will allow districts to have more resources to devote to improving education. … more

Michigan Unemployment Rate Down to 13.6 Percent

New data was released yesterday from Michigan's Office of Labor Market Information that indicates Michigan's economy may be recovering. … more

Service Tax Is Bad Policy

The service tax is bad policy for Michigan. Legislators should resist the temptation to pass this tax hike as the budget deadline approaches. … more

Fact-Checking and Adding Context to the Governor’s Economic Diversity Speech

In a speech on diversifying the state economy at the Mackinac Policy Conference today, Gov. Jennifer Granholm stated that diversification efforts through the Michigan Economic Development Corp. have brought 919 "companies or expansions" to Michigan. She also stated that health care is the state's largest industry. One claim is without context and the other is incorrect. … more

States With More College Grads Don't Have Better Economies

Evidence suggests that a single-minded focus on increasing the proportion of a state's population with college degrees is a dead end for improving the state's economy. … more

'Out of Balance' and Bad at Math

A new paper from the National Institute on Retirement Security uses convoluted calculations to argue that public-sector employees receive wages that are 11 percent to 12 percent below private-sector averages. When calculated in a straightforward way, however, the alleged wage disparity disappears. … more

Michigan Tax Burden Grows Despite Claims to the Contrary

Per capita figures make Michigan seem worse off by comparison to other states since population is less responsive to economic changes than are tax revenues. Still, Michigan's per capita tax burden increased over the past decade. … more

State Employee Pay Grows 25 Percent Above Inflation Since 1999

The average state employee compensation package costs approximately $93,039. Inflation-adjusted wages and benefits have increased 25 percent since fiscal 1999. The figures include the value of all benefits from state-paid retirement contributions to dry cleaning allowances. … more

Michigan Film Subsidies: Two Years, $117 Million and No Film Job Growth

It has been two years since Michigan's film subsidy program became law, which is sufficient for it to have gotten off the ground and had some measureable impact on the state's economy. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18 months after its launch there were 9.8 percent fewer people employed by the film industry in Michigan than when the subsidy program began. … more

Facts for Tax Day in Michigan

Today is April 15, the last day to file your 2009 tax return. Protests are happening around the state alleging rampant growth of government, overtaxation and overregulation.
Here are some facts about taxes in Michigan. … more