This past year, the Mackinac Center has frequently acted against government bureaucracies and public universities that are not being transparent and open. Most notably, we sued the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services after it refused to release information about COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities. But Michigan isn’t the only state that has not given a clear picture of its COVID deaths. When Kathy Hochul became governor of New York, she revealed that the state had undercounted COVID deaths by 12,000 people. As Steve Delie and Peter Warren wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “It is deeply concerning that more than a year and a half into the pandemic, people are being asked to trust their leaders without being able to verify their claims. What’s even more worrisome is those leaders’ willingness to ignore or slow-walk freedom-of-information requests.”
As more school districts announced that they would start the 2020-21 school year virtually, some families wanted to use other options. Unfortunately, an amendment in the Michigan Constitution makes it challenging for them to do so. Five families, represented by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, are fighting back. The lawsuit, which you can read more about on page 8, has received national and local attention. It even caught the attention of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who wrote about the families in a Real Clear Education essay. Bush wrote, “If we’ve learned one thing from the pandemic, it’s that our education system must be flexible and centered around students. A single, one-size-fits-all pathway for every kid will never deliver great results."
The fight against corporate welfare continues, made necessary by new legislation in Lansing that would spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Rather than give money to a select few companies, the state should encourage business development through other means, such as regulatory changes that will lower electricity rates. Two Mackinac Center experts, Michael LaFaive and Jason Hayes, offered solutions to attract businesses in an op-ed in Crain’s Detroit. They wrote, “The best approach to economic development is one of a fair field and no favors. Reduce utility and tax costs across the board, provide first-rate public infrastructure and lighten the regulatory load.” Prevailing wage, a bad policy that was repealed by the Legislature in 2018, was recently reinstated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for some state contracts. Jarrett Skorup wrote about the problems and hypocrisy of this decision in The Detroit News.