Blog

While there were important laws passed in the statehouse in 2019, what didn’t get passed was just as noteworthy. There was no large tax increase, despite it being governor’s highest priority. There was less road funding in the budget, despite a consensus between legislators and the governor that that the state ought to spend more on road repairs. This was also a light year for business subsidies, and our business subsidy scorecard — which records legislators’ votes on such matters — contains only one small addition.

Miladis Salgado is a Florida mom who had $15,000 seized and forfeited by the federal government. But she was never even charged with criminal activity. For two years, she fought in court and eventually had her property returned.

Interest groups will increasingly make their case about why they like or dislike different candidates as the 2020 election approaches. Perhaps this is why union officials have repeatedly claimed that the 2017 tax reform package hurts their members. But it isn’t true: Almost everyone got a tax cut.

The 100th Michigan Legislature completed its 2019 business and will commence its second year of regular sessions on Wednesday Jan. 8. The next Roll Call Report will be posted on Jan. 10. This report recaps the 2019 legislature’s volume of activity.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on December 15, 2019.

Michigan will end 2019 with some great news: State lawmakers didn’t re-up the audaciously named “Good Jobs for Michigan” corporate handout program. The state will not be able to give away new deals for taxpayer cash to companies through this program starting in 2020.

On Jan. 1 the Mackinac Center’s Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative posted and distributed its first policy recommendations of the year. The essay was titled “2019 State Budget: Cut Corporate Welfare for Roads and Economic Growth,” and it described the shortcomings of the state’s subsidy programs and how money now dedicated to them might be better spent.

Michigan voters legalized recreational marijuana through a ballot proposal last year, and labor unions are seeing green. Big Labor and its allies are trying to use state regulations to grow union revenue.

After Michigan became a right-to-work state in 2013, most its largest unions have seen big declines in membership and revenue. State law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions have rendered it illegal for unions to force workers to pay them money in order to hold a job. This has freed hundreds of thousands of teachers, auto workers, day care employees, state workers, home caregivers and more.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Tuesday announcement that she would sign the supplemental school aid bill signals the end to a lengthy appropriations debate, finally wrapping up more than two months into the fiscal year. The prolonged drama could easily obscure the final result, which is well within the trend of increased state spending on education.

Six years ago I criticized a chart that President Obama published about job growth. It implied that he was single-handedly responsible for ending the Great Recession. In presenting the same information in a slightly different manner, the data suggested that the recession continued to intensify for months after the president took office. It’s worth a second look with new data and a new administration.

Last week, the Mackinac Center published a study about the problem of letting administrative agencies define criminal behavior. This happens when the state Legislature empowers a state department to write legally binding rules to execute a statute and then declares that anyone violating the statute or these rules is guilty of a crime. In effect, then, unelected bureaucrats in these agencies can determine what constitutes criminal behavior.

(Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of articles featuring the perspectives of current and recent Michigan public school teachers’ experiences with school choice. See the first two articles here and here.)

Counselors, insurance agents, cosmetologists and athletic trainers are all set to more freely practice their jobs under bills recently passed or expected to move soon in Michigan. These are all good steps toward reducing unnecessary regulation, but they also show the need for more comprehensive licensing changes.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on November 2, 2019. 

President Trump's offer to purchase Greenland from Denmark was front-page news in August, but a better option for expanding the country’s geographic footprint would be to offer statehood to the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as the interior of British Columbia.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on October 26, 2019. 

Young people extolling socialism have caused conservatives to sound alarms about the direction the country is going. But the reappearance of socialism is more a sign of a wide partisan divide than it is evidence that people want to change America’s economic system.

Legislators are considering bills to expand tax preferences to a small number of businesses, exempting them from taxes that other, similarly situated businesses pay.

House Bills 5127 and 5128 would extend existing sales and use tax exemptions by 20 years and apply them to a limited number of businesses in a specific industry. These exemptions would only apply to data center companies — businesses that store websites for other companies and provide them with other information technology services — that spend $250 million or more on buildings and equipment. It would not apply to businesses in the same industry that have spent less.

A recent MLive article claimed to offer “Everything you need to know about Michigan’s charter schools.” It didn’t do that, and worse, offered faulty data that leads readers to see charters in a more negative light than they deserve.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on November 9, 2019.

Editor's Note: This piece was first published in the Lansing State Journal on November 6, 2019. 

Editor's Note: This piece first appeared in the Washington Examiner on October 13, 2019.

Imagine a student taking a standardized test and being so over unprepared to answer multiple choice questions that he just flips a coin or rolls a dice to make his choice — just randomly guessing on every question for the whole test. Seems absurd, but based on the test results for the public school district in Detroit, the average student might as well be doing so.