Why are think tanks important? Just look at two policy
debates dominating today’s headlines. Mackinac Center research laid
intellectual groundwork for key tax proposals by our governor, and helped
define the battle to rein in union influence over government’s cost.
Policy debates aren’t merely academic. They affect how we
live. Will taxes be levied simply on all, or will powerful interests get
special deals? Will government unions impoverish private-sector workers to
protect deluxe pay and benefits, or will we bring public servants’ compensation
in balance with those they serve? Policy changes lives.
Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal radically scales back
special deals for politically favored businesses. His language echoes ours,
saying government should not “pick winners and losers.” Way back in 1995, we
irked many Republicans and our friend Gov. John Engler when we predicted the
failure of his new Michigan Economic Growth Authority, which granted tax relief
to select firms. Some said we’d soon be out of business for challenging a
popular governor’s signature project. Instead, we were proved right.
Gov. Engler’s successor only doubled down on this
unsuccessful initiative. Over a decade of government picking winners and
losers, Michigan lost 848,000 jobs. While some wondered if we’ve been tilting
at windmills arguing for low taxes and equal treatment, last year gubernatorial
candidate Snyder visited with our analysts, and now he proposes to dramatically
reverse tax favoritism.
Key to controlling government’s cost is bringing
public-sector benefits in balance with the private sector’s. Reforming state
union laws to do so is well within the authority of the Legislature and
governor. But unions almost put their privileges out of legislative reach with
a ballot proposal in 2002.
Proposal 3 would have amended the constitution to enshrine
collective bargaining privileges for all state employees, making it much more
difficult to check government union costs. Labor Policy Director Paul Kersey
detailed the proposal’s hidden costs, and union leader John Denniston listed
the Mackinac Center first among the proposal’s “opponents.” Voters defeated the
measure 54 percent to 46 percent.
If Proposal 3 had passed, our Legislature today could not
even consider a host of recommendations to get union power — and government
cost — under control.
Our work from years ago doesn’t always make today’s
headlines, but its impact does. A group of Mackinac Center supporters is giving
us the biggest challenge in our history. They will match $1.65 million in new
support, for a total of $3.3 million for an aggressive campaign to limit the
cost of government, stop the federal takeover of our health care and increase
freedom in our schools and workplaces. "Triple Play" and "Three Ways to Change Michigan" explain more. I hope you understand the value of the
Mackinac Center’s long-term commitment to limited government and increase your
support to help us make and lock in historic gains now.