Ken Braun is the former managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential, the Center's daily online news site and quarterly newsletter on state and local public policy. He also is the former director of MichiganTransparency.org and "Show Michigan the Money," the Mackinac Center's projects on government transparency. For the five years prior to his joining the Center in 2006, Braun was a chief of staff for a Michigan state representative. His primary policy tasks in that post involved tax and budget matters, but he worked extensively on a variety of other topics, including municipal water systems, telecommunications and ballot access for minor political parties. Braun also assisted in writing Op-Eds that were published in Michigan’s largest newspapers.

Prior to his work in the Legislature, Braun served as a campaign manager for a Michigan state legislator. He also worked in his family’s retail lighting business in Farmington Hills, Mich. Braun graduated in 1990 with a degree in international relations from Michigan State University’s James Madison College. 

Democrats and GOP Legislators Slam Savings at Sec. of State

Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is trying to make people "drive further and further, just to receive assistance," according to state Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, who says his fellow Republican should focus her attention instead on "bringing services closer to the people." Kahn's criticisms were directed at the Dept. of State's ongoing Branch Office Modernization Program, which aims to save scarce taxpayer dollars by consolidating branches into fewer, but more technically-savvy and customer-friendly, locations. For Kahn's district, this means the loss of a branch in Frankenmuth and enhanced services at another in Saginaw — decision that Kahn calls "a mistake," but that Land's office defines as "fiscal responsibility." … more

Profile of a Tea Partier

Meet the real TEA Party organizers, minus the alleged billionaire masterminds. … more

Alabama Betrayal: Congressman Provides Tea Party Lessons

The correct lesson to draw from this is that neither political party provides a "right side" or even a "wrong side" on any issue. They will provide you only their side, and if you count on them for defending your principles then you will be betrayed whether their candidates switch labels or not. … more

Bad Hangovers, Bad Memories, Bad Taxes

Like a drunk waking up on New Years' Day, politicians often forget what caused the headache the night before. … more

Michigan Capitol Confidential Correction

On Page 13 in the current issue of Michigan Capitol Confidential (November/December 2009), a roll call vote accompanying the article "Balancing Act" was not labeled properly. … more

Politicians Begin to Choke on Ethanol Myths

At least one Michigan politician has figured out that corn is for food, not cars. … more

Living Here in Allentown

What did it take for Michigan to turn into Billy Joel's Allentown?
Well we're living here in Allentown,
And they're closing all the factories down.
Out in Bethlehem they're killing time.
Filling out forms, standing in line.
 … more

Bus Pass

Oakland County taxpayers may have dodged a new bus tax bullet, but most are still paying a lot for buses they don't ride. … more

Capitalism Is Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection? In America, we have the glorious option of getting things fast, cheap, with fees and without and almost always some mix of all of the above and more — all because of businesses constantly looking to do what we want, when we want and how we want at a price we're willing to pay. This magic of the marketplace happens in spite of politicians, not because of them. … more

Bad Policy Doesn't Taste Better With Tea

Thursday's Wall Street Journal carried an article about Republican candidates for federal offices who are favored by establishment GOP power brokers, and how these candidates are suddenly finding themselves on the business end of the grassroots "Tea Party" opposition in many states. The article notes that this is creating heartburn for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee because the GOP was behind finding these more establishment-minded politicians in the first place and now can't sell them to even the GOP primary voters. … more

Kalamazoo's Taxpayer Arena

Kalamazoo County wants taxpayers to help buy a new sports arena. … more

Senior Skip Day

Today in Lansing: What state capitol demonstrations are a legitimate use of a school's resources and students and which are not? … more

Recall Reversal of Fortune

Recalls aren't used only by the small government side. … more

The State Budget: Why the Wait?

There's worse things than a state budget that gets done late. Consider what happened when they got it done on time. … more

Home Sweet Dome

The Silverdome is for sale because Pontiac can't afford to keep it. Michigan lawmakers think other cities need stadiums too. … more

Michigan K-12: Below Average Income, Above Average Costs?

Can Michigan, a poorer-than-average state, continue to support teachers that are paid more than average? The debate continues. … more

The MEA Money Tree

27 GOP Lawmakers got campaign money from the union that lobbies against the 3 percent reduction in the School Aid budget. … more

The Price We Pay

If Michigan's public schools were a business competing in the marketplace, would the 4th highest teacher salaries in the nation put them out of business? … more

House GOP K-12 Defectors Identified?

Update on K-12 budget vote as fiscal year deadline looms... … more

Big Labor Says: "NO CUTS!"

A big labor union is calling up its favorite Republicans and telling them not to cut the budget. … more

You Say You Want a Revolution...

Thank you for contacting the Mackinac Center and Capitol Confidential about our views on whether citizens should approve a state constitutional convention, which will be on the 2010 ballot. The Center doesn’t have any “official” view on this, but I’m glad to share my own, with which most of my colleagues generally agree. In short, it's “If you let slip the dogs of war, you can’t control where they run.” (Or something like that.) … more

"What is the Reason for the Existence of House Republicans?"

Q. If it comes down to an all-cut budget, can House Republicans be counted on to supply the needed votes?

"If House Republicans can't be counted on to support an all-cut budget, what is the reason for the existence of House Republicans?" DiSano said. "That caucus is filled with hard-line conservatives who talk tough in GOP primaries. Now is their chance to shine and cut, cut and cut some more. The question is do they have the guts to go home and explain these cuts?"
 … more

Billions Served

Proposed K-12 cuts are not so scary in real-world context. If we hired teachers from the state of Washington, then we could cut almost 4 times as much. … more

This Is Not Astroturf?

Critics from the pro-spending, pro-government side of the ideological spectrum have famously been throwing the charge of “Astroturf” — i.e. fake “grass roots” — at the various TEA Party gatherings and town hall meetings that have been flaring up across the nation since April 15. … more

Tea and Astroturf

There has been a steady drumbeat of accusations this summer from defenders of the “big government solution” side of the health care debate that the “town hall” and “TEA Party” protests against members of congress are organized by insurance companies, the Republican Party and various other so-called “Astroturf” agitators who don’t represent “normal” Americans. If one actually attends these events (as I have) the absurdity of this allegation becomes abundantly clear. However, if the “Astroturf” pejorative has any meaning at all, surely it would apply to a protest event on which the official press secretary for one of the major political parties is doing the PR work for the “grassroots project,” AND is acknowledging that the grassroots project and its work are all tied directly to the political party’s national committee. … more

Gadhafi for Auto Czar?

The Detroit News says there was a big party in Tripoli, yesterday to celebrate the Gadhafi coup's 40th anniversary. A more local angle on this event is Gadhafi’s other role as an international man of business. You see, he was into Bailout Nation WAY before it was cool. Early 1979 was the last time Chrysler teetered on the brink of insolvency – that time asking (and eventually winning) $1.5 billion in bailout loan guarantees from the U.S. taxpayer. In this most recent go-round the bankruptcy bailout wheel, ChryCo was pushed into becoming a subsidiary of the supposedly stronger Fiat. But Fiat has had an interesting government bailout history of its own . . . … more

The West Bank of the Detroit River

Prosperity is measured by what it takes to shop for food. … more