(Editor’s note: The
following commentary is an edited version of a letter Mackinac Center President
Joseph G. Lehman recently sent to Center members.)
Two years ago, we sued to stop the state from funding an illegal unionization scheme. Last
month, the state capitulated, pulling
the plug on an operation that filled union bank accounts with millions of
dollars meant for the care of low-income children, and roped tens of thousands
of home-based day care owners and workers into a union of auto workers and
So while the national spotlight was on Wisconsin Gov. Scott
Walker’s union policies, Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration quietly undid the
Granholm-era arrangement that the Lansing State Journal editorial board called
a “bizarre scheme.” Our clients — Sherry Loar, Paulette Silverson, and Michelle
Berry — represent thousands of caregivers happy to no longer be forced to pay
dues to a union they never invited into their homes.
Our policy ideas are appearing in bill proposals in Lansing.
Gov. Snyder’s proposed budget replaces most of the discriminatory business tax
breaks and subsidies with what is essentially a single, simple and overall
lower tax for all firms. He is offering more revenue sharing (taxes collected
by the state but given to local governments) for those municipalities that
start to bring public employee benefits
in line with the private sector (and less for those that refuse).
He signed legislation giving emergency financial managers
more authority to keep cities and school districts out of bankruptcy, even if
it means telling unions they can’t have everything they want. Pending
legislation would lower the cost of public buildings by ending the practice of
shielding union contractors from competition.
Some who oppose free-market reforms are quick to blame us
for what they think is now going wrong in Lansing. The leftist Mother
Jones magazine recently wrote about the Mackinac Center and the financial
They called us “the think tank that inspired the governor’s controversial
bill.” Even if they exaggerate, we’re glad they consider us influential.
Much, much more needs to be done to turn Michigan’s decline
into an ascent. Mackinac Center analysts will continue to research, investigate
and report on what needs to be done to accomplish that goal.
Joseph G. Lehman is president of the Mackinac Center for
Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland,
Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided
that the author and the Center are properly cited.