What Should the Next Legislature Do?

The next Legislature could enact a number of Mackinac Center ideas if November’s elections produce conditions that favor freedom.

In 2010 we updated our “101 Ideas to Revitalize Michigan.” The Legislature and governor have since fully or partially enacted dozens of them. Here is some unfinished business and some new recommendations.

    • Ask teachers and government employees at all levels to join state workers who already have 401(k)-style pensions to keep their currently underfunded plans safe and protect taxpayers.

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    • Bring all government employee benefits into balance with private-sector averages. Fully closing the gap would save $5.8 billion annually.

    • Repeal the “prevailing wage” law that forces schools to waste $224 million annually.

    • Expand educational choices by letting the money follow students to any school, public or private, through a scholarship or tax credit. (The constitution would also have to be amended for this one.)

    • Inject a little democracy into unionized government workplaces by holding union recertification elections every two years.

    • Strengthen government transparency. Prohibit bureaucrats from obstructing document requests and charging taxpayers absurd amounts to view public records.

    • Reform corrections. Analysts across the political spectrum put savings at $500 million or more. Failure to address overcriminalization means innocent people are often swept up in dragnets of injustice.

    • Put teeth in laws intended to reward teachers by merit and prohibit unions and school officials from bullying workers. Stop forcing taxpayers to pay for school employees assigned 100 percent to union business.

    • Consolidate multiple state agencies into one Department of Permitting, especially for environmental and various regulatory permits.

    • Root out regulations designed primarily to protect the powerful from competition while doing little for public safety.

    • Continue tax relief. Lower overall rates for everyone instead of adding back special exemptions, loopholes and favors.

    • Eliminate anything on my colleague Mike LaFaive’s new list of $2.1 billion in recommended savings that is less important than any core government function, especially corporate welfare.

    • Fix the roads. For ideas on where to find some money for that, see above.

All policy moves through a political process. Few candidates, including Gov. Snyder, are campaigning on these issues now. That’s politics. But neither did they campaign very much four years ago on the Mackinac Center ideas they since enacted into law, including significant net tax relief, cuts to corporate welfare, greatly expanded school choice, bans on unseemly union dues-skimming schemes, and of course the nation’s 24th right-to-work law.

This isn’t the entire Mackinac Center agenda, but it would be a good next step. Hopefully this column is a preview of coming attractions.