[Photo of Michael D. LaFaive]

Michael D. LaFaive

Director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative

Michael LaFaive is director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, where he has worked since 1995.

He is the author or co-author of hundreds of essays, commentaries and blog posts and 12 studies on fiscal policy topics as varied as local and state privatization efforts, corporate welfare, school finance, state budgeting and cigarette taxes.

Among his studies is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s largest, a nearly 200-page state budget analysis that recommended more than 200 ideas for trimming some $2 billion from the state budget without cutting Medicaid or School Aid funding. Many ideas first presented by LaFaive in 2003 have been adopted or adapted by lawmakers in Lansing.

He is also the originator of the Center’s annual school privatization survey, which routinely garners a 100 percent response rates from districts. There is no database of competitive contracting like it in the United States. In addition to this product, LaFaive authored in 2001 a 26-page, full-color edition of Michigan Privatization Report specifically dedicated to fixing Detroit. The ideas in that publication are more relevant today than when it was published.

LaFaive is perhaps best known, however, for his cutting-edge, scholarly work examining state “economic development” programs. His studies and frequent commentaries on this topic have garnered him a national, if not international reputation as a respected government development critic and were probably influential in the decision to kill the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, the state’s high-profile corporate welfare program. 

LaFaive has been interviewed more than 1,300 times by the media in the last ten years. He is typically interviewed more than 125 times a year by members of the press seeking comment on fiscal issues and remains a popular public speaker.

He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics from Central Michigan University.

LaFaive is married and resides in Midland, MI.

Mackinac Center Praises Lawmakers Trying To Hold Pure Michigan Program Accountable

One Democratic lawmaker tried to defund multi-million dollar program; others calling for investigation into unsubstantiated ROI claims … more

Evidence? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Evidence, Imply Tourism Officials

Tourism officials make claims they can’t support … more

Back to the MEGA Future: Good Jobs for Michigan Reinvents Failed MEGA Program

Proposed law shares remarkable similarities with old, failed law … more

Dear House Tax Committee: Pure Michigan Return on Investment Not Validated

State Rep. Jim Tedder asks the right question … more

What’s Old is New Again: Another Subsidy Program Being Considered by Legislature

Good for politicians and well-connected businesses, bad for Michigan … more

Secretive Bidder Wins Pure Michigan Contract Over Transparent One

Auditor General, not MEDC, should hire reviews of corporate welfare programs … more

An Empire of Smuggled Smokes

New York's cigarette taxes have sparked a huge black market and should be rolled back … more

Governor's Tourism Conference Must Address Pure Michigan Shortfalls

Mackinac Center analyst offers counterpoint to state’s promotion campaign … more

The Secrecy of 'Pure Michigan'

One State May Do Away With Taxpayer-Funded Tourism Promotion

Why ending Florida’s “Pure Michigan” counterpart would benefit residents and visitors … more

Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling

An update through 2015 … more

Studies of Government-funded Tourism Promotion Withstand Criticism

Publicly-funded marketing for tourism is a waste of money … more

Updated Research Affirms Link between Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling

Interactive map shows taxes and smuggling by state … more

People First or Well Connected Developers?

We should provide tax relief for all instead of favors to a select few … more

Mackinac Center Analyst: Senate Bills 111-115 Are Corporate Cronyism

LaFaive available to comment on pending legislation … more

The Cost of High Cigarette Taxes

Research reveals unintended consequences of tax … more

Mackinac Center Expert Available for Comment on FY 2018 Budget Release

Fiscal policy analyst to be in Lansing Wednesday for Snyder’s presentation … more

Legislators Who Promote Transparency Should Start by Disclosing Corporate Welfare Deals

MEDC secrecy patronizes lawmakers and public … more

Michigan Wins When Immigrants Face a Fair and Predictable System

Due process is an important part of an immigration system … more

Detroit’s Soccer Stadium Should Stand on its Own

Stadiums are a bad investment for taxpayers … more

Indiana Could See Cigarette Smuggling Leap with Excise Tax Increase

Michigan may benefit from Hoosier hike … more

Government Growth Proposed in Gov. Snyder's 2017 State of the State

Address included 12 proposed government expansions, one limitation … more

Happy 50th Birthday Personal Income Tax

Now go away … more

Some Budget Ideas for 2017

Michigan's Net Out-Migration Much Reduced But Still Negative

Michigan Stagnates on Economic Freedom Index

After big recent gains, this state stuck in neutral … more

Tourism Promotion Study Criticism Absurd, Ironic

MEDC criticism falls flat; still hiding behind secretive study … more

High Taxes on Cigarettes Increase Smuggling

New study looks at national rates … more

High Cigarette Taxes Lead to More Smuggling

Study provides new estimates of smuggling rates for each state … more

Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling: A 2016 Update

Click here to view the PDF of the full study.
Introduction
Since 2008 the Mackinac Center for Public Policy — and more recently in conjunction with the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation — has worked to estimate the degree to which cigarettes are smuggled into and out of American states. Our research, and that of other scholars too, suggests that smuggling is a rampant problem, particularly in states with high cigarette excise taxes.
Unintended and unforeseen consequences are a frequent problem in public policy. Few politicians realize when they vote for higher excise taxes that doing so may dramatically increase cigarette-related crime, such as smuggling. These crimes not only deprive local and state governments of tax revenues, they also tend to descend into violence, which produces all sorts of unnecessary damage. Policymakers should take these realities into consideration when contemplating how much to tax cigarettes.
This report analyzes the relationship between cigarette tax rates and cigarette smuggling rates. It relies on the same statistical model used in our previous studies, but uses the latest available data from 2014. New York State once again claims the highest smuggling rate in the nation. In fact, according to our analysis, New Yorkers consume more smuggled cigarettes than they do legally taxed ones. New York state has the highest excise tax rate on cigarettes in the country at $4.35 per pack and New York City adds another $1.50 tax. Arizona, Washington state, New Mexico and Minnesota round out the top five states for percentage of in-bound smuggling. Michigan ranks 12th, down two positions. … more

Michigan House Rejects Cronyism Bills

‘TIF on steroids’ legislation dead for now … more

Bad Santa: Trump Risks Cronyist Blowout with Carrier Incentives

Draining the swamp by creating new ones … more

Mackinac Scholars Challenge Tourism Officials to Debate

Letter sent to key proponents of Pure Michigan campaign … more

Tourism Officials Invited To Debate Efficacy of Pure Michigan

Mackinac Center researchers challenge state to defend claim that program is worth its cost … more

Pistons Move to Downtown Comes With Big Taxpayer Price Tag

Mackinac Center experts comment on the deal in state media … more

Study: New Sports Facilities Do Not Increase New Business Openings

Research discredits idea for ‘catalyst’ or ‘transformational’ developments … more

After Election Season, Economic Liberty Please

Lesson from a state-by-state study: Liberty promotes prosperity … more

State Not Transparent with Effectiveness of Multi-Million-Dollar Program

New Pure Michigan study questions advertising expenditure … more

Recommended Reading: A New Look at “The Bet”

Human well-being has increased dramatically over the last few decades … more

Tax Hike Vote in Kent County Expensive, Unnecessary

Unfair to force taxpayers to subsidize the recreation of others … more

The State Claims ‘Pure Michigan’ is Worth Tens of Millions. It Isn’t.

Other research does not validate MEDC’s secretive, no-bid contractor … more

Pure Michigan’s ‘Budget Justification’

Why an independent review is necessary … more

Study: Pure Michigan a Poor Investment

New study raises questions about Pure Michigan’s effectiveness … more

An Analysis of State-Funded Tourism Promotion

Click here to view the PDF of the full study. … more

Tilt from Tax Cutting to Corporate Welfare Renews Failed Approach to Economic Growth

Lawmakers face a number of corporate welfare proposals … more

Potential Corporate Welfare Binge Risks Second Michigan ‘Lost Decade’

Michigan and Ontario Governments Agree to Promote Crony Capitalism Together

Closest Thing to Immortality? Government Programs

Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps has survived multiple defundings … more

This Week in Fiscal Policy News

Tax reform proposals and state pension underfunding … more

Proposed Beer Tax Hike Would Hurt Brewers

LaFaive comments in MLive article … more

Michigan and Ontario Governments Agree to Promote Crony Capitalism Together

When international cooperation is not helpful but destructive … more

Cigarette tax hike initiative a bridge too far

Study: Ontario Should Look to Michigan

Canadian think tank recommends following the Michigan tax reform model … more

State 'Post and Hold' Rules Economically Unsound

Liquor laws benefit the few and the expense of the many … more

Corporate Welfare’s Strange Allure for Politicians

Just say "no" to crony capitalism … more

Corporate Welfare’s Strange Allure for Politicians

Smuggling Would Rise Along with Tobacco Tax

Economic Freedom and Well-Being Noticed by Top Official

Michigan's economic liberty is slowly improving … more

Cut Corporate Welfare to Help Balance State Budget

Tenuous relationship between corporate welfare and economic health … more

Pure Michigan: An Economic Development Program That Doesn’t Create Any Development

Freedom for Nations, States and Cities

Economic freedom increases human well-being … more

Contracting Non-Instructional Services Can Help Students

Op-ed published in Chicago Daily Herald … more

Economic Interference Week

Economic Development Week is no cause for celebration … more

That’s What We Said

Right-to-work studies confirm Mackinac Center findings … more

Cigarette tax hike will increase criminal activity

New 'Rich States, Poor States' Index Released

Michigan improves slightly … more

Pure Michigan Campaign Ineffective, Needs To End

New op-ed published in the Detroit News … more

MEDC's Priority: Defend Its Budget

Pure Flummery: Seeing Double on Corporate Welfare Spin

Pure Michigan ads are attractive corporate welfare … more

Puffery or Proof? The Business of Tourism Subsidy 'Budget Justification'

West Virginia Excise Tax Hike Proposal Invites Smugglers

How Raising Cigarette Taxes Could Increase More Than Revenue … more

Free Press Quotes LaFaive on Arena Deal

Possible conflict of interest in new Red Wings venue … more

New Study Says Pure Michigan Campaign Not As Advertised

LaFaive and Nesbit Op-ed Published in Lincoln Journal Star

Raising cigarette taxes would increase smuggling … more

Higher Education Subsidies: Is College More ‘Affordable’ for Those Who Don’t Go?

Gov. Snyder’s budget proposal hikes cost to taxpayers … more

Michigan Competitiveness Stuck on Mediocre

Economic outlook has improved, but could be better … more

Nastiest Bumper Sticker Ever

Addressing common misconceptions about capitalism … more

School Transportation News Features Center Study

Survey of school service privatization  … more

Taxing Matters: Michigan's Middling Rank

Michigan tax burden mediocre; improvements can be made … more

Fewer Opportunity Seekers Flee Michigan

The number of customers heading out of Michigan was largely offset by the number moving into the state. … more

Weekly Standard Features Mackinac Center Research

Examining government alcohol control across the country … more

Americans are Moving to Right-to-Work States

Right-to-work states gain 480,000 people from domestic migration … more

Government Officials to Pick Lodging Industry Winners and Losers?

Tourism officials said to be scrutinizing Airbnb … more

Survey Reveals How Schools in Different States Compare in Privatizing Services

Pennsylvania leads the way among five states surveyed … more

Economic Freedom Matters

Michigan ranks 27th among the states … more

School Support Service Privatization: A Five-State Survey

LaFaive Op-Ed Published in The Detroit News

Why Michigan shouldn't single out Switch for tax breaks … more

Skip Industry Breaks, Lower All Taxes

The MEDC’s Pure Michigan Puffery: Part II

Reforms could make agency more creditable … more

MEDC’s Pure Michigan Puffery: Part I

Agency claims about success deserve more scrutiny … more

$1 Cigarette Tax Hike Helps Smugglers, Not Health Outcomes

Prohibition by price drives consumers to alternatives … more

Will Republicans Backtrack on Corporate Welfare Cuts?

Many economic development programs receive bipartisan support … more

House Road Bill Could Be Better, but a Step in the Right Direction

A mix of new and existing revenues to fund road repair … more

Cigarette Taxes Bad for Pennsylvania Businesses

LaFaive co-authors op-ed for philly.com … more

School Privatization Survey: Michigan Rates Increase Again

Economic Freedom of the World Index: America’s Worrisome Decline

The U.S. ranks 16th in economic freedom … more