[Photo of Michael D. LaFaive]

Michael D. LaFaive

Director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative

Michael LaFaive is director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, where he has worked since 1995.

He is the author or co-author of hundreds of essays, commentaries and blog posts and 12 studies on fiscal policy topics as varied as local and state privatization efforts, corporate welfare, school finance, state budgeting and cigarette taxes.

Among his studies is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s largest, a nearly 200-page state budget analysis that recommended more than 200 ideas for trimming some $2 billion from the state budget without cutting Medicaid or School Aid funding. Many ideas first presented by LaFaive in 2003 have been adopted or adapted by lawmakers in Lansing.

He is also the originator of the Center’s annual school privatization survey, which routinely garners a 100 percent response rates from districts. There is no database of competitive contracting like it in the United States. In addition to this product, LaFaive authored in 2001 a 26-page, full-color edition of Michigan Privatization Report specifically dedicated to fixing Detroit. The ideas in that publication are more relevant today than when it was published.

LaFaive is perhaps best known, however, for his cutting-edge, scholarly work examining state “economic development” programs. His studies and frequent commentaries on this topic have garnered him a national, if not international reputation as a respected government development critic and were probably influential in the decision to kill the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, the state’s high-profile corporate welfare program. 

LaFaive has been interviewed more than 1,300 times by the media in the last ten years. He is typically interviewed more than 125 times a year by members of the press seeking comment on fiscal issues and remains a popular public speaker.

He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics from Central Michigan University.

LaFaive is married and resides in Midland, MI.

Government Golf

Federal-Mogul Lesson: Get Rid of the SBT and Fix the Fundamentals

What will it take before government understands that gimmicks don’t work, and that only fixing the fundamentals of our business climate through broad-based reforms will? … more

Building School Facilities with Public-Private Partnerships

Michigan Should End Its Tax Favoritism

MEGA Grant Requests: What Companies Say

The Best Way To Support the Arts

Protecting Art From Politicians

Using tax dollars to fund artistic pursuits is not in the best interest of Michigan citizens. … more

Michigan’s Lemon Industrial Policy

Around the State

Government Golf: Unfair Competition Hurts Business, Taxpayers

As citizens and taxpayers, we should be asking ourselves: Is golf one of the legitimate functions of government? … more

State of the Statist

Useful Privatization Guide Released

Building School Facilities with Public-Private Partnerships

Put Cap on State Dental Programs

Advice for the Mayor of Detroit

Demography is Destiny

Happy 300th Birthday, Ben!

Globalization: What a Wonderful World

Despite Michigan’s recent economic woes, in 2004 it exported $35 billion worth of goods and services to the world, ranking it fourth among the states, up from sixth place in 1998. … more

Flashy Projects Have Not Helped Detroit

Morey Dedication Remarks

Michigan: The France of North America

Revitalizing Detroit

"End of the Line" for Amtrak Subsidies? Think Again

Booking Privatization: Why Not Privatize Government Libraries?

Survey: School Outsourcing Grows

State of the State

Peter the Great

An Agenda for the Next Mayor of Detroit (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Real reform can’t be postponed. If Detroit’s decline persists and the city’s financial problems continue, the state may be forced to appoint an “emergency financial manager” to run the city under Public Act 72 — an ignominious end for the mayor and Detroit itself. … more

Privatizing Water Works

Survey: School Outsourcing Grows

According to Loock, the district went from paying a $100,000 subsidy to the food program to posting a profit of up to $25,000 after Chartwells took over. … more

Smoke and Terrors

Notes on Michigan’s Economy

MEGA: 10 Years With Little To Show

MEGA’s attempt to pick winners and losers is a poor substitute for improving the fundamentals of Michigan’s business climate. … more

Her Own Personal Autoworld (Viewpoint of Public Issues)

More than 50 years of economic development history in Michigan should be enough to convince us that the economic development emperor has no clothes. … more

MEGA Promises Versus MEGA Realities

Job Search

Revisiting Cobo

A New Beginning: Ending the Single Business Tax

Only eliminating the SBT and ensuring a bold net reduction in business taxes can begin to trump Michigan’s other handicaps in its economic competition with other states and nations. Even eliminating the SBT and cutting state spending dollar-for-dollar is not impossible; the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has detailed billions in potential state budget savings in areas like Medicaid, education and corrections. … more

Cobo Hall: It’s Time To Sell

Privatization for the Health of It

New Year’s Resolution: A Taxpayer Bill of Rights

At the end of fiscal 2000, Michigan budget officials informed lawmakers that the treasury had received $600 million more than had been budgeted. Rather than return it to taxpayers, state legislators went on a spending spree that included a new polar bear exhibit for the Detroit Zoo. … more

Capitalizing Trouble

Fiscal Policy in Michigan

Gaining Ground

“Milking the Cow” of State Development Departments (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

We cannot lose sight of the fact that selective favors discriminate against those who do not receive them and distract policymakers from the broader business-climate reforms that would benefit everybody. … more

The Record of “Economic Development” Policy in Michigan

Between 1995 and 2003, Michigan finished 51st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in employment growth. … more

State Economic Development:

Are Targeted Incentives Constitutional?

High School Fiddlers’ Group Goes Private

Privatize the University of Michigan

Prison Privatization: A Growing National Trend

Private Companies Can Lock Up Jail Savings

Golf Privatization: Fieldstone Should Be Private

Sinful Sin Taxes

“Because the profits are so fantastic, we’re now seeing drug traffickers, other criminal organizations, and even terrorists involved in tobacco smuggling.” … more

Spurring Economic Growth and Jobs in Michigan

Privatize the University of Michigan (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Tuition hikes could actually help those students who truly need help — by enabling the school to offer greater outright gift aid and tuition reductions to students from low-income families, as is often the practice at private universities. … more

Civil Society Is Working in Northville

Tax Shots Across the Budget Bow

More Privatization In Plymouth’s future?

Are Targeted Incentives Constitutional?

Privatization, Profits, and School Unions

Veterans' Homes: Privatization Could Mean Lower Costs, Better Service

Contract Out School Services Before Laying Off Teachers

The Pros and Cons of Zero-Based Budgeting

How to Make Cities “Cool”

Our state and its city governments would do better to focus on their more important functions (schools, roads and public safety, for example), which are often carried out in ways that are anything but cool. … more

State Audit Questions MEDC Job Claims

A New Baseball Statistic for Opening Day