Studies

"Urban Sprawl" and the Michigan Landscape: A Market-Oriented Approach

Government officials and environmental activists use "stopping urban sprawl" as a mantra to support greater government control over private land use decisions in Michigan through central planning aimed at farmland preservation and urban revitalization. This study critically examines suburbanization and land use in Michigan to determine that the state's economy and farmland and citizens' quality of life are not threatened by economic growth and development, or what activists have dubbed "sprawl." The study argues that restrictions on suburban growth do not address the causes of why people move out of inner cities any more than the Berlin Wall addressed the problems of East Germany's repressive socialist economy. The study concludes by recommending a market-based approach to land use policy and identifying "urban sprawl" as the natural evolution of free people pursuing peaceful ends and their shot at the American Dream. … more

MEGA Industrial Policy: An Analysis of the Proposed Michigan Economic Growth Authority

Michigan has seen stellar economic progress due to Governor Engler's free-market reforms. Is MEGA a reversal of the trend? Should government pick the winners and the losers? This report analyzes proposed MEGA legislation. 16 pages. … more

The Archer Administration: A Commentary at Year One

After one year of Detroit Mayor Archer's administration, analysts Kleiman and Hutchison conclude that although some promising new directions were taken, much work remains. Experience in other major cities such as Philadelphia point the way for Detroit: Mayor Archer should move quickly to cut tax rates and privatize more services. 10 pages. … more

Ecorse: The Fall and Rise of a Michigan City

Ecorse, a Michigan community south of Detroit, gained a national reputation in the late 1980s as a town that took privatization seriously. Over a four-year period, Louis Schimmel, court-appointed receiver, privatized most city services, cut the city's work force more than 60 percent, and eliminated a $6 million budget deficit. Daddow's review of the city's efforts to correct its fiscal problems through spending discipline and privatization is a must-read for every city official who wants to learn lessons from a city that's been to the brink and back. 99 pages. … more

A Prosperity Agenda for Michigan Cities

Introduction by David G. Sowerby

This study compiles recently released 1990 U.S. Census Bureau data to measure the economic and fiscal policy performance of Michigan's eleven largest cities. Using an index composed of poverty rates, population growth, job growth, and per capita income, the authors find that six cities grew during the 1980s while five declined. The per capita tax burden was found to be 65 percent higher in the declining cities than in the growing cities, a difference of more than $1,100 per year in taxes. Preface by prominent Michigan economist and Mackinac Center scholar David Sowerby. 19 pages. … more

Responding to Municipal Fiscal Crisis: Bottom Line Lessons from Ecorse, Michigan

Ecorse, one of seventeen communities in the Downriver Detroit area, became the first Michigan city to be placed in receivership. Court-appointed Receiver Louis Schimmel turned the city's finances around through aggressive policies of cost cutting and privatization. He privatized the entire Department of Public Works for a minimum annual savings of $400,000. Other cities such as nearby Detroit have much to learn from the Ecorse experience. 13 pages. … more

Road Map For a Michigan Renaissance

In the aftermath of the 1990 gubernatorial election, innovative proposals for a new incoming administration and legislature were needed. In a 20-point program, The Mackinac Center calls for a Michigan Grace Commission, welfare reform, trucking deregulation, privatization, repeal of the Prevailing Wage law, and specific tax and spending cuts. … more

Regional Economic Development: Downriver as a Case Study

The seventeen communities of the Downriver Detroit area have traditionally been economically vibrant. Their decline in recent years is due in great measure to excessive tax burdens and the politicization of community services. The authors explain how this area can revive by rolling back property taxes, privatizing a number of municipal functions, avoiding government-directed economic development schemes, and making certain improvements to the transportation infrastructure. The many lessons from the Downriver experience are applicable to communities all across Michigan. 32 pages. … more

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