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The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as California has discovered thanks to a recent court decision. On Aug. 10, the California Superior Court rejected an attempt by Uber and Lyft to stay the effects of a law that would have classified their drivers as employees. This, in turn, prompted both Uber and Lyft to prepare to shut down their California operations. Although a later appeal resulted in a temporary stay, the threat of a shutdown continues.

At the end of our previous post, we had just reached the halfway point of 50 reasons for optimism about the well-being of our environment and the many ways humanity is working to improve it. More and more, it is becoming clear that human ingenuity and innovation is the primary reason we can enjoy cleaner air and water, growing wildlife populations, more abundant and nutritious food, more trees, and a host of other good environmental news.

The Mackinac Center’s new study, “Economic Development? State Handouts and Jobs: A New Look at the Evidence in Michigan” examined thousands of incentive deals offered to state enterprises and tracked the employment at them over time. As part of our examination, we studied the performance of the state’s Michigan Business Development Program from two different directions. Neither yielded evidence that the program was worth keeping.

A salient feature of the “Return to Learn” plan is to punish public schools that innovate, grow and demonstrate success. This kills incentives for schools to improve and leaves families with fewer good options. This backward funding policy, touted as a needed response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will trap many students in ineffective distance learning programs.

State Budget Director Chris Kolb recently argued that the federal government should give the state of Michigan billions because there is nowhere left to cut in Michigan’s budget. “I have reviewed every dollar in the state budget, but the fact of the matter is there’s simply no way to cut the budget in fiscal year 2021 without impacting essential services at a time when our residents need them the most,” he writes in The Detroit News.

Editor's Note: This piece first appeared in The Detroit News on August 12, 2020. 

Michigan’s lawmakers decided that schools are more important than schooling when they announced that they’ve agreed on a school funding plan for next year. Many students and taxpayers are getting a raw deal.

Public schooling is the most expensive service provided by Michigan’s state and local governments. It’s a big task to educate the 1.6 million school-age children and young adults in the state, 90% of whom attend a tax-funded district or charter school. Of the $42 billion in state and local taxes collected in Michigan, more than 40% goes to K-12 education.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers are considering whether to extend the $600 weekly unemployment insurance bonus payments Congress established earlier this year. However, with the number of new deaths decreasing, and everyone learning how to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus better, lawmakers should encourage people to find ways to return to work safely. Moreover, they should consider a superior way of preparing for the next recession: unemployment insurance savings accounts.

We have all heard it relentlessly repeated that green policies are the only sure way to protect the environment and stop climate change. But four key works published this year are pulling away the facade surrounding green movement’s climate and energy policy prescriptions. These books and documentaries together make a convincing case that we have been misled.

As the academic year returns, COVID-19 has placed an unprecedented strain on schools and exposed a growing gap between what families want and what the system can provide. The more that education officials can mix an openness to innovative solutions with a willingness to take decisive action, the more they can close that crucial gap.

For decades, scholars nationwide have been researching the impact of state and local economic development programs. The preponderance of evidence shows most are ineffective. Even when they create jobs, the costs of the fiscal incentives they present to corporations to create jobs usually outweigh the benefits.

Mackinac Center director of labor policy Stephen Delie recently wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed describing the ongoing struggle to implement the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which protects public sector employees’ freedom of speech.

A proposed ballot initiative could result in a 150% increase in the state excise tax on cigarettes if approved by voters. Voters should pause and consider the unintended consequences of adopting this tax hike. A $2.00 per-pack increase will do more than raise revenue, it will also raise lawlessness in Oregon and likely without having a strong impact on smoking rates. There is a better solution.

The $600 weekly unemployment bonus Congress offered under the CARES act ended on July 31, and lawmakers must decide whether it’s time to get Americans back to work. If so, they should either not extend the bonus or come up with a plan to phase it out, because continuing it would hinder our efforts toward economic activity. But if they conclude that it’s not time for the whole economy to return to work, they should consider extending existing relief programs.

Governors across the nation appear to be ordering people around, with their decrees backed with the full force of law. But the reality is that these orders are more like suggestions and fall short of determining how ordinary people actually respond to the pandemic.

Most parents of Michigan’s 1.7 million school-age children still don’t know how or where their children will be educated next school year, which is only a month away. They’d like some answers soon, as many may have to substantially flex or change their way of life to make it all work.

On July 28, State Superintendent Michael Rice told a senate committee that students and parents should just grin and bear whatever their local schools have to offer this upcoming school year. “For a single year, we ought to freeze enrollment so that we mitigate the movement of children across districts, which I think is going to be greater than ideal anyway, given the pandemic,” he said.

There is an acrimonious debate between urbanists and anti-urbanists. Some analysts say emphatically that the suburbs are unpopular and that people are fleeing them for the dense city core of metropolitan areas. Others say the opposite. But based on population trends, it seems that neither side is the clear winner.

A dishonest narrative has started to spread in the last 24 hours – in some instances by people who should know better – about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defunding the Michigan State Police and Michigan Department of Corrections. No such defunding occurred.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is making unilateral decisions for how Michigan responds to COVID-19. Her recent decision to reinstitute medical licensing rules makes little sense, especially considering the governor is also warning the public about the dangers of an increasing number of positive coronavirus cases.

The Lansing School District recently became the first in Michigan to announce it will continue full-time remote learning to start the fall term. As schools across the state reconfigure the upcoming academic year, students should also have the ability to make their own adjustments so they can pursue what works best for them.

The commission which oversees state workers in Michigan recently approved a proposal to require unions to get the consent of state workers every year before charging them dues. This action follows the requirement made in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus case, which found that public employers need “clear and compelling” evidence that people want to join and maintain union membership.

Limited government people want to keep state revenue from growing out of control. So, they judge legislation by whether it increases or decreases government income. This tendency gets exploited by some special interests: Requests for tax credits — which seem to reduce government revenue — are met with less resistance than calls for more spending programs.

“I have no doubt suspending these scope-of-practice laws helped save countless lives and ensured our hospitals were fully staffed to care for COVID-19 patients,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “But our battle with COVID-19 is far from over. We owe it to the frontline health care workers, first responders and other essential workers to continue doing our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus — which includes wearing a mask and practicing social distancing — so our hospital systems aren’t overwhelmed with new patients.”