Michigan’s government may be planning for more revenue than it is entitled to. The state’s income tax rate has dropped to 4.05%, but administrators refuse to collect less from people’s paychecks this year. In addition, Attorney General Dana Nessel made a bad reading of the law that triggered the 0.20% reduction in the income tax rate, arguing that the rate is going back up at the start of next year.

This article originally appeared in The Hill February 16 2023. Michigan’s right-to-work law was repealed March 24.

Michigan’s new Democratic trifecta has made it a priority to repeal the right-to-work law that the legislature passed in 2012. Proponents of repealing the law claim that right-to-work laws are “unfair” because they require unions to represent non-members in contract negotiations and grievance cases.

Efforts to water down the state’s teacher evaluation system may lead to worse outcomes for Michigan’s neediest students. Spurred by misguided claims that job performance measures have a negative impact on teacher employment, advocates are pushing for reduced accountability measures that would put Michigan kids even further behind.

Getting in with your doctor isn’t always easy. Physician shortages are straining our medical system, forcing patients to delay even commonplace care such as vaccinations and diagnostic testing. But do you know who is almost always available to help with these simple procedures? Your local pharmacist.

As travel bureaucrats and industry members gather in Grand Rapids for another “Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference On Tourism,” they are keeping a big secret from you. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which administers the state’s taxpayer-funded tourism promotion program, works to keep key data involving state tourism away from those who might question Pure Michigan’s effectiveness.

The national discussion around environmentalism sounds partisan and contentious. But to those who are working daily to improve the environment, the real world has a far different feel. Rich Bowman, policy director of the Nature Conservancy in Michigan, joins me to discuss hands-on environmentalism for this week’s Overton Window podcast.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance and the Mackinac Center announced a lawsuit on April 6, 2023, challenging the Biden administration’s pause of repayments on student loans.

The student loan pause is costing taxpayers $5 billion every month. If it is extended to the end of 2024, it will cost a total of $275 billion. Congress isn’t making decisions about how to spend those billions – the Biden Administration is. And the executive branch does not have the Constitutional authority to do so.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel published a legal opinion Tuesday on whether a legislatively mandated tax cut was permanent or limited to a single year. Allies of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer claimed the 2015 law that created a tax-cut trigger was only meant to reduce the income tax rate for one year. Legal experts and the law’s framers argued that the cut was intended to be permanent unless changed by the Michigan Legislature and signed by the governor.

People stopped riding the bus in Michigan when the pandemic happened, and they haven’t come back. They took 83 million rides on government-run transit systems in 2019. This fell to 32 million rides in 2021. With a 61% drop in riders over just two years, people might worry that bus service in the Great Lake State is in dire shape. It’s not. Transit gets more money than ever, despite serving fewer than half the people it used to. This points to a service that is in dire need of a rethink.

The decisions and activities of the state Supreme Court can seem hidden from view of normal voters. It’s not often that they make the news. That’s why my friend Alisha wanted to know about it. And this week we speak about it with Cliff Taylor, a former chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court for the Overton Window podcast.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget proposal harms some of the state’s most at-risk students. The executive budget includes a 20% cut in funding for students enrolled in online charter schools. And it creates an additional hurdle for disadvantaged students who need access to high-quality education opportunities.

There exists enough resources to provide the 10 million people of our state the energy they need. What Michigan lacks is the political will to insist on reliable energy, preferring instead weather-dependent sources such as wind and solar. Michigan’s coming energy crisis will be man-made.

Michigan’s Democratic majority lawmakers demand that people working in unionized private sector workplaces pay unions to keep their jobs. That’s what repealing the state’s right-to-work law will accomplish, but you’d never know that from what legislators have said.

On Jan. 30, President Joe Biden tweeted:

On my watch, the great American road trip is going to be fully electrified.

And now, through a tax credit, you can get up to $7,500 on a new electric vehicle.

There were just a few problems, as Twitter users were quick to point out.

The following are the polls taken about “right-to-work” laws in Michigan in recent years. Right-to-work makes it illegal for people to forced to pay dues or fees to a union even if they work in a unionized workplace and under a collective bargaining agreement. Michigan passed a right-to-work law in December of 2012.

This article originally appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business March 13, 2023. 

The choice between a top-down or bottom-up economic approach is becoming clear as Lansing politicians prepare for two important debates.

Legislative Democrats are considering a bill to repeal the state's right-to-work law, while also supporting plans backed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to use billions in state funds to subsidize a handful of rich corporations. One such plan, according to published reports, may add nearly $750 million in fiscal favors to a state incentive package for Ford Motor Co. and would raise the value of its incentive deal to nearly $1.8 billion.

In its latest report, Education Trust-Midwest calls for the urgent implementation of “solution-based, research-based strategies” to address the disparate learning losses experienced by low-income students during the pandemic. To increase test scores, one of Ed Trust’s top priorities is to significantly increase the amount of money schools receive on behalf of their low-income students.

Michigan has long had programs in place to help low-income households. Food, housing, health care, day care, preschool, tax credits and more. These programs have traditionally been limited to those who truly need it, with eligibility based on income.

That is changing. Activist groups have pushed for years to expand social welfare programs to more people. They often exaggerate economic doldrums and broaden the definition of poverty to make their case. The bottom line is that expanding means-tested programs does nothing for those truly in need. It simply doles out benefits to wealthier and wealthier households.

Knowing some basics of the U.S. Constitution will aid in understanding the role the Michigan Constitution plays in our lives. In particular, it is important to know about the concept of enumerated versus plenary powers, as well as the federal supremacy clause.

Any government project bigger than building a road should draw your skepticism. 

You should understand titles like “The Inflation Reduction Act” to be fictitious, not a comment on what will happen after a law is passed.

When the U.S. president stands at a podium and announces a plan for regime change in foreign lands, or to eradicate climate change, you should know that’s far beyond their paygrade. They’ll spend your tax money, sure. But government is not in the problem-solving business. 

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have introduced separate legislation expanding Michigan’s earned income tax credit, signaling it as a top priority for both caucuses. The bills are being called tax cuts by various media outlets, including MLive, The Detroit News, and Bridge.

Michigan has operated a negative tax for over a decade now, and it’s worth reminding residents of its continued existence.

A negative tax does not raise money for the government. It instead redistributes money to the tax’s filers. In Michigan’s case, those filers happen to be the state’s largest companies.

There are important questions that must be asked in public debates. How people answer them matters to elected officials. Too often, however, politicians and reporters ask the wrong questions. Here are some common ones that pop up regularly, with examples of better questions that we ought to be asking.

Michigan Capitol Confidential has begun The Michigan Constitution Project.

This year we will educate our readers on our state constitution, with the understanding that it has more depth than just the words on the page. Over time, a citizenry ignorant of the law and unwilling to hold bureaucrats accountable will lose its freedom. Let’s remain free.

Could Michigan students be facing an even greater decline in achievement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? Proposals by lawmakers to reduce school accountability and transparency are setting the stage for more poor outcomes in the absence of consistent, transparent and straightforward school performance measures.