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).

Editor’s Note: Corey DeAngelis, Ph.D., will be giving a speech and signing books at a Mackinac Center event on Tuesday, May 21.  

Most authors choose to dedicate their book to their spouse, their kids or at least their agent. But Corey DeAngelis dedicates his book, “The Parent Revolution: Rescuing Your Kids from the Radicals Ruining Our Schools,” to American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and government teachers unions more broadly. DeAngelis, “public enemy #1 of the teachers unions,” writes of them:  “You’re doing more to advance freedom in education than anyone could have ever imagined. Thank you for overplaying your hand, showing your true colors, and sparking the Parent Revolution. ”

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News April 16, 2024

Paul Allen has a big idea.

You may not know Allen, but I bet you know of, the genealogy service he co-founded.

Allen told me his focus has shifted from the family tree to government meetings. His new platform, Citizen Portal, has a simple mission: Capture video of every public meeting of every public body at every level of government in the United States.

This article originally appeared in The American Spectator March 21 2024

March Madness came early to the Dartmouth College basketball team. The “Big Green” aren’t set to compete in the famous tournament, but they did vote on March 5 to create the first college sports union, which was certified on March 14. Labor activists and their media allies are already pushing more college teams to unionize, and not just in basketball.

A new report published by the Mackinac Center details how public schools in Michigan spent the $6 billion in federal relief they received during the COVID-19 pandemic. It analyzed data reported directly by school districts to assess how they spent these extra funds. The findings suggest that there are significant limits to what policymakers can achieve by dropping loads of cash on school districts during an emergency.

As I filed my taxes this year, I engaged in a mental exercise to calculate the true effect of taxes on my paycheck. I would not encourage anyone to follow suit; it’s just too depressing.

First, I looked at my paycheck and took out the payroll taxes. Then I looked at my monthly bills and pulled out the taxes on my cellphone and electricity bills. I totaled up how much I paid for gasoline and broke down how much of that tally was reserved for gas taxes and sales taxes. I did a good estimate of my purchases that were subject to the sales tax, including household supplies, clothes and entertainment. Finally, I estimated the sales tax for dining out for the year.

Democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain have joined forces to push a “32-hour workweek with no loss in pay.” They essentially want a four-day work week, which the UAW demanded (but didn’t get) after striking against the Big Three automakers. Now the Senator has introduced legislation to the same effect. Yet neither Sanders nor his union ally understand the damage they’ll do the workers they claim to champion—and both are being hypocritical.

States and the federal government own a lot of land, and they hold it in the public trust. That requires some complicated conversations among administrators about how to best manage land for the public’s interest. For Jason Hayes, the Mackinac Center’s director of energy and environment, that means using it to better human interests rather than leaving it untouched by human hands. I speak with him about this approach for the Overton Window podcast.

This article originally appeared in the Detroit News April 8, 2024.

Ask a parent what she’s willing to do to secure a quality education for her child.

The answer is likely to be, “Almost anything.”

For five Michigan families, that includes taking a case to the U.S. Supreme Court. An appeal filed last week seeks to invalidate a state constitutional provision that restricts the use of public funds for private education. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, it would expand educational options for families in the state.

Michigan House Republicans are proposing bills to limit the state’s programs that subsidize select businesses.

The bills would require that money allocated to failed deals go back into the state’s general fund, instead of remaining available to make more deals. The legislation would penalize companies that lose jobs after getting state money. It would require companies that receive state assistance to pay salary minimums. These bills would also give legislators a bigger say in whether deals move forward.

The Michigan State Board of Education passed a resolution earlier this month that could regulate charter schools out of existence. The resolution was prompted by false claims about lack of charter school transparency. And this could have dire consequences for these public schools, which are already subject to strict oversight.

Portions of this text were taken from prepared remarks by the author, delivered April 10 at Northwood University in Midland, MI.

If you want to measure how public policies affect economies, you can refer to a number of excellent scholarly indexes. The United States Census Bureau publishes the Index of Economic Activity. The American Legislative Exchange Council publishes “Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index,” which includes an index of state-specific economic competitiveness. The Tax Foundation publishes an index on state taxes. I’ve turned to all of these sources in my own work.

As Michigan lawmakers Lansing grapple with the state government budget, let’s evaluate whether it’s sustainable for Michiganders and the state’s fiscal health.

Lawmakers often focus on the short term as they face a deadline to pass the next fiscal year’s budget. The long-term health of the prosperity of Michiganders who pay for the state’s budget depends on putting government finances on a sustainable path. Right now, they’re not.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer touted her economic accomplishments when she offered supply chain management company NorthGate $1 million in taxpayer money to add 374 jobs in 2021.

“These investments will create hundreds of promising jobs for Genesee County residents as we continue to grow Michigan’s economy and build strategic industries across the state,” the governor said in October 2021. "Today's business expansions are helping us stay laser-focused on creating good jobs, growing our economy, and continuing to lead in key industries like manufacturing and supply chain logistics.”

School funding is complicated, and people can believe a lot of things that have been addressed and changed decades ago. The idea that the state underfunds poor urban districts is often taken as self-evident even when the evidence says otherwise.

Schools in Michigan received an average of $14,475 per student in funding from federal, state and local governments in the 2022-23 school year, according to the latest data available. All large urban districts received more per student than the statewide average.

This article originally appeared in The Hill March 30, 2024.

The Biden administration recently announced $8.5 billion in subsidies to build Intel’s new semiconductor plants. It sounds like a terrific deal, as subsidies often do if you only listen to what politicians say when they are writing big checks to big companies. It secures good-paying jobs for workers. It protects the future of the country. It demonstrates that this is the place where people want to be. We are building economic momentum. Yada yada yada.

Ever see the protectionist maritime lobby mocked with photos from Spongebob Squarepants? If you’ve been following Shoshana Weissmann on X, formerly known as Twitter, you may have. Weissmann is the director of digital media for the R Street Institute, a free market think tank. I speak with her about advocating for policy through social media for the Overton Window podcast.

The state of Michigan is handing out $250 million in tax credits for low-income housing. The cost per housing unit? An astounding $236,000 each.

That’s more than the average value of a house in Michigan right now, which Zillow pegs at $232,500. In other words, taxpayers will dish out more per unit in subsidies than it costs to buy a whole house in Michigan.

West Virginia, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, and now, Alabama. What do these states have in common?

School choice for all.

Alabama recently became the first state in 2024 to adopt education savings accounts, the most popular form of school choice. The state enacted the Creating Hope & Opportunity for Our Students’ Education (CHOOSE) Act. “We all want every Alabama student – no matter the zip code, no matter the school – to receive a quality education,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in her press release.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News March 24, 2024.

School boards across the state have their work cut out for them. Leading a school district is hard enough, and now they must prepare to bargain with teachers' unions over subjects that have been off the table for more than 20 years.

If you read enough news stories about public health issues, they all start to sound the same. The headline warns us about a threat to our health. Public health officials attest that the threat is very real and advise us to be very careful, because it could happen to you or someone you love. They offer advice, such as scheduling an appointment with your doctor or getting a vaccine, if one's available.