Ideas Liberals and Conservatives Can Agree On

Plenty of middle ground, even in a divisive political climate

Although the current political climate is fraught and divided, there are a handful of ideas that people and groups across the spectrum can and should be able to agree on.

Mackinac Center Executive Vice President Michael Reitz recently wrote an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press describing a few potential consensus-building ideas for Michigan: licensing reform, a better school ranking system, criminal justice reform, an income tax cut and FOIA reform.

Proposals that are proven to increase government efficiency and economic prosperity should be embraced by liberals and conservatives alike. On criminal justice reform, Reitz writes:

An effective criminal justice system achieves public safety while maximizing resources. Michigan incarcerates more than 43,000 people and spends $2 billion each year on corrections. Prison sentences and prison stays here, which exceed national averages in length, consume ever more money. The state could improve how it collects and manages data to help researchers and policymakers better understand rehabilitation, prisoner re-entry and recidivism; bills in the Senate will do this.

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In addition to reviewing practices within the justice system, Reitz pointed out that legislators on both sides of the aisle have found common ground in the past and could do so again, including on civil asset forfeiture and overcriminalization.

Education is often a divisive issue, but Reitz notes one area most people agree could use some improvement in Michigan — the state’s method for ranking schools:

In January, the Michigan School Reform Office announced that 38 academically struggling schools could face closure after three straight years of low achievement. This announcement understandably ignited concerns.

While accountability is critically important, the manner of evaluating schools could be improved. The state’s Top-to-Bottom ranking merely assesses schools based on average student test scores. It fails to take student poverty into account. As a result, schools that are demonstrating growth in spite of socioeconomic hurdles can be unfairly penalized.

A better ranking system would allow high-performing schools to shine and give families a better tool for choosing among and improving their educational options.

Read the full list of Reitz’s ideas for reforms in the Detroit Free Press.


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