Budget discussions have been front and center at both the state and the federal level. Some states hoped the federal government would help them with their fiscal woes, but a federal bailout is not the answer. As James Hohman wrote in The Hill, “While state budgets are looking better, there are some real fiscal problems in state and local governments; they’re just not caused by the pandemic. Their trillion-dollar-plus pension underfunding problems — where either by accident, neglect or intent, policymakers racked up massive debts to their employees and retirees — predate 2020.” Underfunded pensions are not a new problem. In its editorial, The Detroit News cited the findings of a Mackinac Center study which showed that Michigan’s 100 largest cities had more than $5.5 billion in combined pension liabilities. In addition to warning about federal bailouts, our fiscal policy team continued combating the myths surrounding taxpayer-funded corporate subsidies. Michael LaFaive was recently quoted in MIRS, The Daily Mining Gazette and Crain’s Detroit Business on their ineffectiveness.
The 2019-20 legislative session is officially over after a busy lame-duck session, which produced several worthy pieces of legislation. David Guenthner praised some of the newly passed criminal justice reforms, including one to eliminate mandatory minimums. “These mandatory minimums,” he told the Detroit Free Press, “can prevent those with mental illnesses and those accused of incredibly minor violations from getting the help they need, and making it more likely they will be back in court again later.” As quoted in MIRS, Jarrett Skorup praised the reforms to Good Moral Character provisions of occupational licensing rules: “A past mistake should not automatically prevent people from honest work in an occupation of their choice. This is a great move by Michigan lawmakers which will help ex-offenders, job creators and the public.”
When President-elect Joe Biden pegged former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his secretary of energy, reporters turned to the Mackinac Center to learn more about her impact on energy in the state during her time as governor. Jason Hayes wrote about the failures of the Granholm administration in an op-ed in The Hill. “Granholm … loaded millions of dollars in tax breaks and government stimulus onto solar power producers, hybrid-electric manufacturing and an advanced battery plant. All went bankrupt within a few years.” He also appeared on radio shows throughout the state, including Michigan’s Big Show, Frank Beckmann and the Guy Gordon show. In an op-ed that ran across the country in USA Today, Jarrett Skorup writes, “With [Granholm] at the helm, you can expect the Biden administration to repeat Michigan’s corporate welfare failure, but on a much grander and costlier scale.”