[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.

Detroit Tries to Salvage Water Department

Center recommended privatization a dozen years ago. … more

Scaffolding for Plunder Part II

"Enhancement" levy a tax, not a voluntary assessment. … more

Standard Fair

Private state fair nearly a decade after Center suggested it. … more

Are You Prepared for 'Taxmageddon'?

What will a $494 billion tax hike fix? … more

Remembering Vincent Chin

Death at the hands of laid-off autoworkers 30 years ago today. … more

Legislature Should Be Bold on Tax Cuts

Difference should be made up with spending cuts only. … more

Retail Alcohol Density and Public Safety

Scholarly evidence shows no negative connection. … more

Lansing Builds a 'Scaffolding for Plunder'

House Bill 5667 has several flaws … more

The Longest Yard

Prison guards defeat taxpayers in privatization battle. … more

Flashy Projects Flash Back

It didn't have to come to this for Detroit. … more

Pontiac's Fiscal Revolution

Emegency manager taking steps to rescue city. … more

Breaking News!

Michigan advances to 17th on economic outlook index. … more

If the Monopoly Title Fits, Wear It

Alcohol distribution territorial monopolies hurt consumers. … more

'Birthday Tax' Unveiled in Lansing

New taxes, fees for road maintenance. … more

Bay City Repeals Prevailing Wage Ordinance

Other cities, state should follow suit. … more

Taxpayers Fund Bureaucratic Back Slapping

Over-sized checks wasteful, opportunistic. … more

Bay City Amends Prevailing Wage Ordinance

State, cities should abandon "archaic practice." … more

Surplus, or Excess?

More state revenue could mean more spending. … more

Michigan's Migration Status Improves

United Van Lines 2011 study released. … more

Right-to-Work Legislation Possible in Indiana

"Significant economic consequences for Michigan." … more

Happy 96th Birthday, Dr. McCracken!

Best wishes from the Mackinac Center to an economic supernova. … more

Breaking News: Michigan Loses Population Again

Michigan citizens fleeing the Great Lake State. … more

Hand Wringing Over Liquor Reforms

Claims don't mesh with scholarly literature. … more

Gov. Snyder's Second State of the State

Some suggestions on what he should address. … more

Detroit Exhausts Its Options

City needs to take bold steps to avoid bankruptcy. … more

From the Department of You Can't Be Serious ...

MSU gets federal grant to study economic development subsidies. … more

Letter in Freep is Spurious, Misleading

Response on beer and wine wholesaler monopoly easily rebutted. … more

Migration and Tax Rates

More evidence for the relationship between high tax burdens and people showing their preference by voting with their feet. … more

Read All About It

State laws redistribute wealth to beer and wine distributors. … more

Taxes and the Life and Death of Great American Cities

Low-tax metropolitan areas experience much greater growth than high-tax ones. … more

State Regulations Suffocate Hospitality Industry

Rep. Doug Geiss (D-Taylor) wants to ease some of the regulatory burdens on Michigan’s hospitality industry. … more

Another MEGA Loser

In the latest government economic development failure in Michigan, Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy. … more

Liquor Panel Formalized

Time to change liquor laws to finally favor consumers. … more

Run From the Border(s)

One of MEGA's first "winners" ends up a loser.  … more

Michigan State Senator Offers Cigarette Tax Cut to Cut Smuggling

Lowering the cigarette tax would reduce smuggling and smuggling-related violence. … more

Distilling the Truth

Beer and wine monopoly "valiant" in fight against competition. … more

Pontiac Should Have Listened to Center Experts

Will Detroit pay attention to Pontiac's example? … more

Some Good GDP News for Michigan

Michigan’s 2009-2010 state GDP growth rate was 2.9 percent, its best since 2002. … more

Good, Bad and Ugly of Gov. Snyder's Budget

Gov. Rick Snyder’s first budget fell short of the “atomic bomb” promised by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, in part due to the fact that a megaton of further spending and tax cuts were left on the table. Overall, the budget moves the state in a positive direction with greater tax simplicity, more transparency, less corporate welfare and fewer discriminatory tax policies.  … more

Extending Exemptions

Michigan currently provides a 100 percent income tax exemption for government retirement benefits, but the exemption is capped for benefits earned by retirees who worked in the private sector. … more

Gov. Snyder to Break Michigan's MEGA Habit

Although details are not yet clear, according to early reports Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed Michigan Business Tax replacement appears to be good news for advocates of sound economic policy. … more

'Book Him!': Michigan Film Subsidy Scandal Leads to More Charges

A scandal first exposed by the Mackinac Center last June has led to a second set of felony fraud charges. … more

Four Cheers for Gov. Snyder

The first three weeks of Gov. Snyder’s administration has provided plenty to cheer, especially on fiscal policy issues. … more

Gov. Granholm Leaves Michigan to Find Work

Today is the 5th anniversary of Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s promise that Michigan residents would be “blown away” by the gobs of jobs her latest economic development program would create. How ironic then that she of all people would flee the state to find work… more

Projection: Repealing MBT and Surcharge Creates 120,000-plus Jobs

The first bill introduced in the Michigan House this year would repeal the much-reviled Michigan Business Tax 22 percent “surcharge,” and the first Senate bill would repeal the MBT altogether. Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed replacing the tax with a 6 percent corporate income tax, a change that would mean a big net tax cut for job providers. … more

GR Press Editorial Correct on Muni Spending

Applause is in order for the Grand Rapids Press Jan. 5 editorial “How to save money for local governments,” which correctly concludes that removing barriers to freer association between local units of government can cut costs. … more

Past State of the State Speeches Show Wide Variation in Proposed Government Expansions/Contractions

The Mackinac Center has tallied proposed expansions and limitations in each Michigan State of the State address since 1969. While not perfectly scientific, the exercise may provide some insight into an administration’s mindset. What do the past speeches tell us? … more

Sympathy for Politicians, Staff

As significant and real reforms and spending cuts are being discussed in Lansing, it’s hard not to feel a touch of sympathy for the “constituent services” staffers employed by lawmakers, and even for some of their politician bosses. … more

MBT Surcharge Repeal Could Create 27,900 New Jobs Through 2016

It’s probably no coincidence that the first bill (HB 4001) introduced in Michigan’s new Legislature is to repeal the 21.99 percent surcharge slapped onto the Michigan Business Tax in 2007. The surcharge is despised by the business community, and is seen as a job killer by policy analysts and politicians alike.  … more

Are Corrections Costs a Mystery?

A story in the Jan. 10 edition of the MIRS Capitol Capsule reports that, according to the National Institute of Corrections, Michigan spends more than $5,200 more to lock up a prisoner for a year than the national average. Also, nearly 29 percent of the state workforce is employed by the Department of Corrections, and it will absorb 23.1 percent of the current year’s general fund budget. This is hardly new information.
Not surprisingly, Gov. Rick Snyder and others are looking to lower those costs. … more