Studies

S2014-01

Michigan School Privatization Survey 2013

Michigan’s school districts have saved money by turning to the private-sector to provide support services. This 2013 survey shows that 65.5 percent of districts now contract out food, custodial or transportation services to private-sector vendors. This is an increase from 31.0 percent in 2001. The survey covers the three services, satisfaction and insourcing among Michigan’s public school districts and has been performed in 2001, 2003, and annually since 2005. … more
Michigan Privatization Survey Cover 2011

Michigan School Privatization Survey 2011

Majority of Michigan school districts currently contract food, custodial or transportation services
Despite increased spending in Michigan public schools, districts regularly face tough choices allocating their resources. This study surveys the privatization of the three major noninstructional services: food, custodial and transportation services. The findings are that over half of public schools have privatized at least one of these services; what is more, about 93 percent report satisfaction with the private-sector services they receive, which spells progress towards improving services while spending less. … more
S2010-06

Michigan School Privatization Survey 2010

Privatization of support services has been a method that Michigan school districts have used for several years to lower costs. More than ever before, Michigan school districts are privatizing the three main support services they offer — food, custodial and transportation. Our annual survey finds that 48.8 percent of Michigan school districts are contracting out for these services. This is an 8 percent increase over 2009.

The largest impetus for contracting is cost savings. The survey found that first-year contracts alone are expected to save districts $16.7 million cumulatively. … more
S2009-10

Michigan School Privatization Survey 2009

With Michigan’s public school districts facing a decline in per-pupil funding, more districts are contracting out for at least one of the three major school support services — food, custodial and transportation — than ever before. This year’s survey of school districts found that 44.6 percent of all Michigan school districts contract out for at least one of these services, a 5.6 percent increase over 2008. This year, new contracts alone are expected to save $6.9 million. … more
S2008-13

Michigan School Privatization Survey 2008

Privatization of school support services is a time-tested means for lowering educational costs. The three major services that school districts in Michigan contract out for are food, custodial and transportation. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy's survey of privatization is the longest running and most comprehensive source of school support service data in the nation. … more
Study Cover

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
Cover Illustration

Internet Access: Government Intervention or Private Innovation?

The Internet has transformed our way of life; and new "broadband" technologies promise even greater benefits through high-speed Internet access and communications. Unfortunately, because major cable companies currently have the capacity to provide this technology to their clients, other Internet service providers (ISPs) are crying foul. They are calling the cable companies' "head start" unfair and forming alliances to get the government to force cable companies to make their high-speed broadband lines available for use by all ISPs on equal terms. This study explains why this government intervention would be a terrible idea. It analyzes market trends and technological possibilities to show that "forced access" would significantly increase costs for consumers with no benefit to show for the added expense. The study concludes that "forced access" would stifle the innovation that naturally emerges from the free play of market forces. It shows why government should not only refrain from interfering with broadband technology, but should allow competition between local cable providers in order to maximize the potential of this exciting new technology. … more

Unused Capacity in Privately Funded Michigan Schools

Many Michigan education reformers are exploring proposals to use private schools to help fix public school problems, including student overcrowding and a lack of incentives for improving student performance. The proposals, whether they involve public-to-private student transfers or expanded parental choice among all schools, depend on private schools' willingness and ability to accommodate new students. This study, which surveyed 342 of Michigan's 1,058 private schools, confirms that private schools have the classroom capacity and desire to accept a significantly larger role in providing more of the state's children with quality education. 10 pages. … more

Saving Retirement in Michigan

Responsible Alternatives to Social Security

Social Security is going bankrupt, threatening the financial security of Michigan citizens. Retiring Baby Boomers are estimated to double the number of retirees in America by 2015, when Social Security will no longer collect enough in taxes to pay the benefits promised to recipients.

Privatizing Social Security-allowing individuals to privately invest their own retirement savings-can avert the financial crisis. Countries including Chile and Great Britain have privatized all or part of their state pension programs, yielding retiree benefits much higher than the government systems, including Social Security's paltry 2.2 percent annual rate of return.

This study recommends that the Michigan Legislature call on Congress to either privatize Social Security or allow Michigan to design for its citizens a sounder and more beneficial retirement plan. … more
Do Private Schools Serve cover

Do Private Schools Serve Difficult-to-Educate Students?

Private K-12 schools are sometimes criticized for accepting only those students most likely to succeed academically, and for leaving the most difficult-to-educate children to the public school system. Is this true? The diversity of private schools includes those that serve exclusively at-risk, incarcerated, or disabled children. The report describes private schools that educate each of these populations, reviews how public schools are contracting with private schools to serve difficult-to-educate students, examines policy implications including cost and school choice, and presents six case studies of Michigan private schools that serve exclusively students with special needs. 71 page … more

Teacher, Inc.: A Private Option for Educators

This study profiles the experiences of a number of educators in private practice, and discusses the benefits that teachers, students, and schools may realize by contracting for instruction. Also included are the results from two national surveys about the legal authority of school boards to contract for instruction, and a chart to help administrators identify the fully allocated costs of in-house and contract service. 23 pages. … more

Timber Producer Certification in Michigan: Self-Regulation vs. State Regulation

Which form of regulation is better for solving problems, protecting consumers and the environment and encouraging rational economic planning-regulation by government or regulation by industry through free markets and incentives? Michigan State University Forestry Professor and Mackinac Center Scholar Dr. Potter-Witter argues for a self-certification model that could be applied to other industries. She also provides a thorough review of the Michigan timber market and a timely survey of literature on occupational licensing. 23 pages. … more

Doing More With Less: Competitive Contracting for School Support Services

Competitive contracting can provide schools with expertise, flexibility, and cost efficiencies not always available with in-house service provision. If they are properly designed and monitored, contracts between schools and private providers can help school administrators do more with less. Includes step-by-step guidelines for the "make or buy" decision, tells how to avoid pitfalls, and suggests measures for contractor evaluation. 26 pages. … more

Making Schools Work: Contracting Options for Better Management

Can America's public schools be improved? Unquestionably. Without additional spending, school administrators can take advantage of the expertise of the private sector, introducing innovations that will make a world of difference. This study reveals dozens of examples of private companies now providing management, instructional, and support services to public schools across America. A must-read for anyone interested in changing public education by putting competition and the profit motive to work. 28 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

Child Foster Care in Michigan: A Privatization Success Story

Few issues are more emotional and controversial than how states care for children who are removed from families because of neglect, abuse or abandonment. This extensively documented report finds that it is less costly to place children in foster care supervised by private agencies than for this service to be provided by Michigan's Department of Social Services. Privatization of this important social service serves as a model for other states. 16 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

Ann Arbor, Michigan: A Privatization Profile

The city of Ann Arbor has a successful privatization track record: vehicle towing, street and sidewalk repair, snow removal, janitorial services, and tree trimming. More can be done and DiGiuseppe specifies possible savings that could be achieved if solid waste collection, landfill management, and parking structures were privatized. 14 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

Jail Overcrowding in Michigan: A Public Problem With a Private Solution?

Strapped for cash and experiencing soaring costs to maintain over crowded jails, Michigan counties are overdue for privatization. Van Eaton cites substantial cost savings in more than a dozen other states where jail operation and management has been privatized. Michigan state government should allow our 83 counties the freedom to employ this promising option. 26 pages. … more

Detroit Metropolitan Airport: A Case for Privatization

The nation's first comprehensive proposal to privatize a commercial airport was inspired by Britain's successful 1987 effort to privatize eight airports, including London's Heathrow. If Detroit Metro were properly privatized, it would benefit county finances, air travelers, and area economic development. … more

The Michigan Accident Fund: A Need for Privatization

Though prevailing legal opinion had concluded that the Accident Fund, a workers' compensation insurer, had been operating as a private insurer, Attorney General Frank Kelley ruled in 1976 that the Fund was in fact a state agency. Smith examines the controversy ignited by Kelley's ruling, culminating in a state takeover of the Fund in 1989. His powerful case for privatization of the Fund is just as relevant today and, in fact, is a major reason why the Engler administration planned to do just that in 1994. 31 pages. … more

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Quality Scholarship

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is committed to delivering the highest quality and most reliable research on Michigan issues. The Center guarantees that all original factual data are true and correct and that information attributed to other sources is accurately represented.

The Center encourages rigorous critique of its research. If the accuracy of any material fact or reference to an independent source is questioned and brought to the Center’s attention with supporting evidence, the Center will respond in writing. If an error exists, it will be noted in a correction that will accompany all subsequent distribution of the publication. This constitutes the complete and final remedy under this guarantee.