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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says that she is reducing costs for Michigan residents, but the impact of her policies does not back up that claim. “I’m laser-focused on lower costs,” Whitmer tweeted recently, “and making life a little easier for every Michigander.”

This article originally appeared in Newsweek May 31, 2024

"We're not even in the game," Michigan State Senator Dayna Polehanki said recently, lamenting that few Hollywood studios are filming movies in her state, which eliminated its film production subsidies in 2015.

Just four years ago, no states gave parents scholarships that let them send their children to whatever school they wanted. Now nearly a dozen do. It is not a random sampling of states, either. It’s the red states. Corey DeAngelis, national director of research for the American Federation of Children, talks with me about it for the Overton Window podcast. His new book, The Parent Revolution, delves into the reasons behind so much change.

Legislators are calling on charter schools to report employee data that’s not required of conventional public schools. They’re touting “equal treatment” of public schools as their reason for subjecting charter schools to unequal reporting standards.

“It’s time for charter school companies to be required to have financial transparency that is equal to traditional public schools,” Sen. Dayna Polehanki recently posted on X.

Michigan lawmakers have approved $4.4 billion in selective business subsidies so far this term and have proposed billions more. The subsidies are billed as economic development programs. Who doesn’t want more economic development? Yet, people should notice that it’s all a show.

When government employees plainly state they’re not experts on an issue, is it advisable to trust them to regulate it?

"Chevron deference" is a legal doctrine based on a 1984 Supreme Court case that established a norm of judicial deference to regulatory agencies on issues where the text of a law is ambiguous. Broadly, the doctrine expects courts to defer to agency expertise in matters over which an agency has jurisdiction.

Why does it often seem that disagreements with the green movement stem not from differences over empirical data but from a fundamental difference in philosophy? The answer is found in a book that was a bestseller during the Kennedy administration.

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is widely credited as the catalyst for the modern environmental movement. The 1962 book, which alleged that humans willfully ignored the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment, became a New York Times bestseller and captured the American public's attention.

Utilities and state governments are pushing full steam ahead with decarbonization plans that will lead to costlier energy and power blackouts. The nation’s electricity grid operators, regulators, and reliability watchdogs alike testify that closing fossil fuel and nuclear electricity generation poses an imminent threat to the reliability of the power grid.

This piece originally appeared in Crain’s Grand Rapids Business on May 15, 2024.

To steal a line from the 1986 movie Poltergeist II: The Other Side, “They’re back!” Lansing politicians are restoring, with slight modifications, a film subsidy program that previously robbed Michigan taxpayers of $500 million. The new proposal authorizes $2 billion over 10 years.

Is Michigan's higher education system worth the high cost to taxpayers? The Mackinac Center for Public Policy recently explored this question at an Issues and Ideas forum.

“Has the Ivory Tower Lost its Luster? Rethinking Higher Education in Michigan,” featured three panelists to discuss the problems in Michigan’s higher education system and some possible solutions.

Michigan citizens licensed through the state (there are 750,000 of them) recently got an email from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs “seeking your input to identify requirements that make the process of obtaining a license challenging.” People can take a survey asking them to suggest “any law, rule or process changes” that would make things easier.

It may feel like America has gone through a lot of technological change in the past few decades. But the chief economist at the Abundance Institute, Eli Dourado, argues that we’ve gone through stagnation. And he’s got ideas to revitalize the kind of progress that help us all live better. I speak with him about it for the Overton Window podcast.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News May 14, 2024.

My family moved to Michigan almost 12 years ago.

Three months in, my wife and I were driving together. “This feels like … home,” she said.

We moved here with no previous connection to Michigan. In 12 years, we’ve discovered so much to love.

It is important for people who engage online to have confidence that their personal data will be handled with care. When personal and financial data is misused or hacked, consumers can suffer significant harms. Criminals can use personal data to commit fraud, such as identify theft. Private data can be sold to advertisers or other parties without users’ consent. Data breaches can also limit free expression if they enable governments or online platforms to monitor and censor people’s activities and speech on the internet.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cancelled a tax cut based on a questionable reading of a tax cut law. But legislators seem confident in her legal interpretation. Instead of waiting to spend money they might not be entitled to, they are already planning to spend every dollar available to them.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News May 7, 2024

The recent NFL Draft was a massive success for Detroit, with the city earning praise from celebrities, sports figures and elected officials for its energy and hospitality.

What’s not to love? Fandom, buzz about top players, highlight reels with gravity-defying plays and intense scrutiny of players’ skills.

Thirty-three percent of students enrolled in the Michigan Reconnect Program didn’t receive a grant because their costs were already paid by other scholarships, a recent Michigan Auditor General Report shows.

The Reconnect Program is part of Gov. Whitmer’s effort to increase the average level of postsecondary education and training in Michigan to 60% by 2030. Currently, 51.1% of Michigan’s working-age adults have earned a postsecondary credential, according to the Lumina Foundation. Michigan residents aged 21 and older who don’t already have a college degree are eligible for the program, which pays for community college tuition and offers no repercussions if students do not graduate.

Cyber schools face funding cuts once again, according to the school aid budgets passed by the House of Representatives and Senate last week. At-risk students who attend online schools may lose out on critical services as a result.

While cyber schools – public charter schools that educate their students through internet platforms – risk losing funds, all other public schools will likely receive more money for each student they enroll next year. Gov. Whitmer and lawmakers in both chambers have proposed an increase in the per-pupil foundation allowance. This is the base amount of financial support guaranteed to every school district and charter school in the state, according to Proposal A.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News May 1, 2024

Fay Beydoun sparked a Venti-sized scandal when she used a state grant to buy a $4,500 coffeemaker. Beydoun, an Oakland County businesswoman, secured $20 million from the state for her nonprofit Global Link International, then used the money for several eyebrow-raising purchases. Lawmakers are calling for new oversight of state incentive programs.

Think tanks are in the persuasion business. We think there are some good policies that lawmakers ought to adopt, and we know that elected officials are not going to pass them unless they’re popular. That requires us to persuade people that our ideas are good. We can tell whether it’s working through polls. Polls also help understand what approaches and what appeals people are more interested in. I speak about polling with Erin Norman, Lee Family fellow and senior director of communications strategies at the State Policy Network, for the Overton Window podcast.

One priority has been missing from the budgets being passed around in Michigan’s House and Senate. Grants to targeted legislative districts, which have become a huge part of the state’s budget in recent years, are not yet included in the spending bills. But lawmakers are unlikely to have lost their taste for pork, and like in previous years, it will only pop in at the last minute of the budget process.

A recent decision from the Michigan Supreme Court will have significant implications for public sector labor law in Michigan. The court’s decision in TPOAM v. Renner upholds a longstanding interpretation of law requiring unions to treat the employees they represent — members or nonmembers — equally. At a time when Michigan has been adopting increasingly anti-worker policies, the court’s unanimous decision is a welcome breath of fresh air.

The Michigan House has passed a bill directing the state to join a national licensing compact for physical therapists. National compacts exist for many occupations, and they let people licensed similarly in one state immediately begin working in all the states in the compact.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News April  11, 2024

It’s been 15 years since the Mackinac Center uncovered a scheme to enrich unions on the backs of people caring for their loved ones. The original program, which took more than $34 million in dues from the pockets of home healthcare providers, was dismantled in 2013. But now the Michigan Legislature has introduced bills to revive this unpopular and unjust program.

This article originally appeared in Fox News March 22, 2024

Forget the "science is settled." With energy policy, settling on the best energy sources is more important.

Unfortunately, the debate over energy is dominated by agenda-driven outbursts and misleading statistics, from activists and governmental officials alike. That’s why we released a comprehensive report card that reviews every major energy source's benefits (and limitations).