Studies

Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling Cover

Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling

A Statistical Analysis and Historical Review

In this study, the authors consider cigarette smuggling from two angles. First, they employ a statistical model to estimate the degree to which cigarette smuggling occurs in 47 of the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Second, they review the historical experiences of three states — Michigan, New Jersey and California — known to have problems with cigarette smuggling. The author's findings suggest that state policymakers should reassess the value of cigarette taxes as a revenue and public health tool. … 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
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
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Internet Purchases: To Tax or Not to Tax, Here Are the Questions

Has the growth of tax-free Internet sales hurt state revenues or education funding? Is it "unfair" for sales over the Internet not to be taxed while other sales are taxed? Would imposing new taxes on the Internet do serious damage to the ability of this new form of commerce to thrive? Does the growth of tax-free online shopping pose a threat to traditional "bricks-and-mortar" retailers? This study addresses these and other questions in order to provide state, local, and federal policy-makers with the intellectual and empirical ammunition they need to keep the taxman at bay. … 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

The Need for Debt Policy in Michigan Public Schools

Public school construction is booming across Michigan, but due to citizens' negative perceptions, many districts are finding it harder and harder to gain voter approval for bond proposals to fund needed projects. This analysis of Michigan public school bonding concludes that development of formal debt policies can help schools earn essential voter trust by managing bond monies in the most efficient and effective manner. The report recommends fifteen elements for a sound debt policy that school districts should adopt to avoid common pitfalls and problems in bonding, including excessive borrowing, improper accounting, and conflict of interest in debt issuance. 17 pages … more
Universal Tuition Tax Credit cover

The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education

This pathbreaking approach to expanding parental choice in education embodies a proposal to amend the Michigan constitution and establish a Universal Tuition Tax Credit (UTTC). The tax credit would offset a portion of private or public school tuition and would be claimed against state tax liabilities. In addition to improving education, the UTTC would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Unlike other tax credit plans, the UTTC would help needy families with low state tax liabilities by encouraging the creation of corporate scholarships to offset tuition costs not covered by the UTTC. The per-student credit could be claimed against the Michigan tax liability of any person or corporation. Unlike vouchers, the UTTC would not allow state funds to support religious schools, would not drain funds from the public schools, and would not spawn new entitlements or overregulation of private schools. The study includes detailed fiscal models, a discussion of school choice, a history of Michigan's constitutional impediments to education reform, and proposed language for a constitutional amendment. 76 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

Sales vs. Income Taxes: The Verdict of Economists

The March 15, 1994, statewide ballot question asked voters to weigh the pros and cons of school finance. The central question was this: Which does the least economic harm-the sales tax or the income tax? Economist Dean Stansel maintains that theory and empirical evidence suggest that consumption taxes are less deleterious than taxes on income, investment, and savings. Connecticut imposed a new income tax in 1991 and economic growth evaporated and job opportunities and population declined. We should learn from the experience of states with high income taxes. 9 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

Proposal A: An Analysis of the June 2, 1993, Statewide Ballot Question

In 1993, Michigan voters were asked to consider a plan that would cut property taxes and cap property assessments, raise the sales tax, and establish a $4,800 per-pupil guarantee for the public schools. "Proposal A" was defeated, but not without intensive debate in which this study figured prominently. The report identifies both pros and cons of "A," including independent, in-depth analysis of its likely impact on the state budget, schools, and property owners. Although "A" is now consigned to the history books, this study is a useful tool for understanding school finance, the economics of property taxation, and related constitutional questions. 40 pages. … more

Analysis of Tax Proposals on the 1992 Ballot

The November 1992 general election in Michigan included two propositions regarding property taxes, Proposals A and C. This evaluation presents a detailed analysis of them, including projections for state and local government revenues. Widely cited in the press when released, it remains a useful guide to Michigan's property tax structure. The report makes a strong case that Michigan, which has the second highest property tax burden among twelve Midwestern states, sorely needs a property tax cut to spur economic growth and to stem the exodus of business from the state. 44 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

The Single Business Tax Burden on Michigan Industries

The Michigan Single Business Tax (SBT) was, at the time of this report's release, the only value-added state business tax system in the U.S. The author explores its history, actual practice, and inherent advantages and disadvantages. Tables of data are provided, showing the SBT burden as a percentage of the Adjusted Tax Base on industries in Michigan. This report is a good overview of the SBT and its impact on the state's businesses. 30 pages. … more

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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.