Studies

101 Recommendations

101 Recommendations to Revitalize Michigan

(Editor's note: These recommendations were originally posted in January 2009. They were updated in January 2011, and a Top 10 list was added. You may view PDFs of the previous versions: the Second Edition, with an introduction by Mackinac Center President Joseph G. Lehman, and the First Edition.)
Michigan is blessed with a wealth of the human and natural resources integral to building vibrant commerce and vigorous communities in the 21st century. At the moment, however, counterproductive public policies have made it harder for our industries to compete nationally and internationally and have reduced our state’s attractiveness to investors and entrepreneurs.
In addition, Michigan is not immune to the gradual erosion of equity and basic human freedom that accompanies a steady growth in the power and scope of government. Related to this, our government’s ability to properly perform many critical functions, including education, has been jeopardized by policymakers’ attempts to do too many things. This lack of focus has even led to confusion among policymakers over whether government exists to serve the people or vice versa.
There’s a lot of work to do to reverse this, but there’s good news. Once growth- and freedom-friendly policies are in place, recovery is likely to occur much more quickly than most people imagine.
For policymakers and voters serious about restoring freedom and economic vitality in the Great Lakes State, the Mackinac Center presents the following 101 recommendations.
This report is a compendium of work authored by Mackinac Center policy analysts and compiled by Senior Legislative Analyst Jack McHugh. The brief recommendations inevitably omit some nuance and detail. These are provided more fully in the online articles cited with each recommendation. … more
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Proposal to Raise Fees on Television Providers is Unnecessary, Likely to Increase Cable Rates

The State should not allow municipal governments to increase public, education and government channel fees when there is no evidence of additional demand. … more
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The Effects of Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Law

Michigan’s prevailing wage law adds unnecessary costs to construction projects at taxpayers’ expense. … more
Proposal 4

Proposal 4: A Legal Review and Analysis

Proposal 4 of 2006, which will appear on the November ballot, is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would alter state law regarding eminent domain, the legal theory that permits the government to take private property for public use if the government pays just compensation. … more
Stop Overspending

The Stop Overspending Michigan Initiative: A Review and Analysis

The proposed “Stop Overspending” state constitutional amendment, which failed to gain ballot status in the November 2006 election, addressed four major areas ... … more
Proposal 5

An Analysis of Proposal 5: The ‘K-16’ Michigan Ballot Measure

On Nov. 7, 2006, Michigan voters will be asked to consider a proposed new law that would, if passed, require annual state spending to increase at no less than the inflation rate for the following state budget areas: public school districts and charter schools; certain specific budget items in state spending on public school districts and charter schools; and state universities and community colleges. The proposal also contains new requirements for state payments to districts with declining enrollment and places liability for school employee pension cost increases on state government, rather than school districts. The proposed new law will appear as “Proposal 5”on the ballot, and its mandates would take effect in the 2006-2007 school year. … more
Michigan

MEGA: A Retrospective Assessment

April 18, 2005 marks the 10th anniversary of The Michigan Economic Growth Authority, a program established by Michigan government with the mission of spurring in-state job creation and business investment. The authority is the state of Michigan’s agent for selecting firms to receive Single Business Tax credits in return for creating new facilities and jobs in Michigan. … more
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Recommendations to Strengthen Civil Society and Balance Michigan’s State Budget — 2nd Edition

An Analysis of Fiscal-Year 2003-04 Appropriations and Recommendations for 2004-05. … more

Recommendations to Strengthen Civil Society and Balance Michigan's State Budget

An Analysis of Fiscal-Year 2002-03 Appropriations and Recommendations for 2003-04

If Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Legislature need specifics on how to close Michigan’s looming $1.7 billion budget deficit, they need look no further than the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s new report on balancing the state budget, released today.

More than 200 specific recommendations from Mackinac Center analysts total more than $2 billion in cost savings and revenue enhancements. All budget reductions, including those involving federal funds, total $3.7 billion. 157 pages. … more

Proposal 3: Establishing a Constitutional Requirement Extending Mandatory Collective Bargaining and Binding Arbitration to State Government Employees

On Nov. 5, 2002, Michigan voters will consider Proposal 02-03 ("Proposal 3"), an amendment to the state constitution that, if passed, would fundamentally alter the relationship between the State of Michigan and its employees. … more

Keeping Michigan on Track

A Blueprint for Governor Engler and the 90th Legislature

  The close of the twentieth century finds Michigan in a position that seemed impossible barely a decade ago: record low unemployment, a thriving economy, growing educational opportunities, and a sense of accomplishment and high spirits. But much can be done to make Michigan an even better place to live and work.
  This report's five sections offer the Governor and the Legislature 41 specific recommendations that will strengthen property rights protection, reform labor law to protect worker rights, improve education for Michigan children, spur economic growth and development, and enhance the state's transportation infrastructure. … more
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Energizing Michigan's Electricity Market

Michigan is about to allow customer choice in the electric power market and, by doing so, end nearly a century of monopoly protection and guaranteed profits for electric utilities. How the state makes this free market transition will impact Michigan's competitiveness and cost of living. The report reviews key decisions before the legislature; analyzes the Public Service Commission proposals; shows the technical, environmental, and economic impact of deregulation; compares Michigan to other states; and recommends ten specific actions to ensure fair, timely, and comprehensive customer choice. The effects of so-called stranded cost payments to utilities are assessed in detail. A four-page glossary of technical terms is included. 33 pages. … more

Advancing Civil Society: A State Budget to Strengthen Michigan Culture

At its core, the budget of the state of Michigan is not about money-it is about people and the way they organize their society. This line-by-line analysis of Michigan's 1995-96 state budget reflects a principled vision for Michigan culture by asking this question about each budget item: Should this program or activity be done by the authority of the state and financed by taxes, or should it be done by its individual citizens acting in voluntary cooperation and private contract with one another? The study recommends over $2 billion in spending reductions (over 7 percent of the state budget) achieved by eliminating unnecessary and counterproductive programs, rolling back unjustified program growth, and contracting out for services that can be handled more efficiently by the private sector. This landmark analysis will help citizens, candidates, and officials of any state craft budgets that promote the strengthening of private institutions and civil society. 97 pages. … more
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Fixing the Roads: A Blueprint for Michigan Transportation Infrastructure Policy

This comprehensive study is the only one available that documents Michigan's road needs, illuminates the diversion of hundreds of millions of Michigan road dollars to nonroad and non-Michigan use, demonstrates how Michigan can save over $170 million annually, and shows that a gas tax increase is not needed if funding diversions are stopped and modest savings measures are enacted. Several of its recommendations have been implemented. 40 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

Political Drift or Paradigm Shift?

An Agenda for Leadership that Lasts

During the elections of 1994, the voters spoke with uncommon clarity about the role of government in their lives. Governor John Engler was re-elected to be a risk-taker, not a caretaker. In this advisory document, the Mackinac Center recommends several specific measures for education reform, labor law reform, and economic development. 5 pages. … more

Washington Should Kick the Mandate Habit:

The Fiscal Impact of Medicaid Mandates on Michigan

Unfunded mandates forced on state governments by Congress pose a substantial challenge to both their budgets and their fiscal sovereignty. Nearly one-third of the growth in Michigan state government revenue for 1993 was consumed by the cost of federal Medicaid mandates alone. The authors' recommendations include the creation of a mandate ombudsman and database, requirements that Congress determine the cost of mandates before passing them, and a call for Michigan's federal representatives to appear before the state legislature to explain their positions on mandate issues. 17 pages. … more
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The Engler Administration: A Mid-Term Review

January 1993 marked the half-way point of Governor John Engler's first term. In this review of the Engler administration, the Mackinac Center notes, "While the nation opts for change in one direction, progress in another is taking place here under the leadership of Governor Engler toward putting government in its proper (read: smaller) place." The report cites the strengths and weaknesses of the administration and concludes by assigning Governor Engler an overall grade of "A-." In addition, several new initiatives are suggested for 1993 and 1994 including civil service reform, property tax cuts, budget reductions, and privatization. 8 pages. … more

Keeping the Engler Revolution on Track

This analysis of Governor Engler's first year in office gives the governor high marks for balancing the state's budget without a tax hike. The governor is urged not to shrink from the politics of constructive confrontation with legislative "big spenders." Includes a review of his first year in light of the Road Map for a Michigan Renaissance, issued by the Mackinac Center in November 1990, and makes recommendations for the continued downsizing of state government. 3 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

Michigan's Home Ownership Savings Trust: A Closer Look

The HOST program was created in 1989 ostensibly to assist first-time home buyers in saving for their down payments. Wolfram and Kaza point out the fatal flaws of the plan and expose HOST as a boondoggle of the first order. Their analysis was instrumental in bringing about revisions of the program under Governor James Blanchard and its ultimate abolition under Governor John Engler. 8 pages. … more

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