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Of all of the state and local taxes in Michigan, property taxes raise the most revenue. And 2018 was a big year for property taxes. Total property tax revenue increased from $14.0 billion in 2017 to $14.6 billion in 2018, a 2.1% increase above inflation.

A recent Michigan Radio headline sounded the alarm: "Study gives low grades to Michigan charter schools on diversity." But a closer look at the study from the left-leaning Century Foundation removes most of the concern about our state's choice-driven, independent public schools.

A few weeks ago, United Auto Workers President Gary Johnson stated that collective bargaining creates equality. He claims that if you’re a woman who wants equal pay, you should join a union. But the data doesn’t seem to show that women in unionized workforces get equal pay with their unionized brothers.

I don’t believe that the state needs $2.5 billion in additional revenue to fix the roads. I don’t believe this because the governor only asks to spend $1.9 billion more on roads. She calls for $2.5 billion in higher fuel taxes, though. The difference goes to other budget priorities.

An exchange between a voter and Sen. Bernie Sanders at a recent public forum displayed a profound misunderstanding of right-to-work laws. At the April 1 summit We the People, a union member asked Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic Party presidential nomination, to affirm his pro-union credentials. He said:

Michigan offered Foxconn $700 million of taxpayer money plus tax exemptions for its factory that went to Wisconsin, a state which offered Foxconn $2.85 billion of taxpayer money, also with exemptions. Michigan offered Amazon an undisclosed amount of money for its headquarters project that went to northern Virginia, which offered the company a at least $750 million in taxpayer-paid subsidies. States should stop this kind of bidding and let these decisions happen without handouts.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has withdrawn Michigan as a plaintiff in a case that opposes a federal rule known as Waters of the United States, or WOTUS. Issued by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, the rule had attempted to define what bodies of water are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Twenty eight states, including Michigan, challenged the 2015 rule in federal district courts, which have issued various interpretations of the rule’s constitutionality. The plaintiff states argue that the rule violates the Clean Water Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the U.S. Constitution and states’ control, protection and care of intrastate waters and lands.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on March 15, 2019. 

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began a public comment period seeking feedback from the states regarding possible federal reform that would make it easier for health insurers to sell plans across state lines. While the GOP pushed this concept as a meaningful way to reduce costs for coverage prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such an effort now is unlikely to have meaningful impact without reform to the ACA’s insurance regulations, which remain intact. Nevertheless, this move by CMS continues the Trump administration’s march toward increased federalism in health care through its regulatory powers.

Editor's Note: This article has been edited slightly since it was first published. 

In a 2015 San Francisco Chronicle op-ed on California’s response to climate change, Dr. Jon Christensen, an adjunct professor at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, coined the phrase “sunny with a chance of apocalypse” to explain his views on “climate-change communications.” He used the term to critique the “doom and gloom” mindset that typifies much of the discussion on climate. Unfortunately, however, that doom and gloom has gained far wider currency and is now even having an effect on the supply and price of electricity throughout the country.

In the wake of a Supreme Court decision empowering every public sector worker in the country to choose whether to join or pay money to a union, the nation’s largest unions are witnessing declines in membership. The National Education Association and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have lost 3 percent and 8 percent, respectively, of members who were previously forced to pay dues or fees.

Michigan's third-grade reading law, adopted in the fall of 2016, has yet to go into full effect. As a key deadline approaches, the state's highest elected official has called for its repeal – a misguided call that ought to generate far more regret than action.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on March 17, 2019.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer noted in her State of the State speech that Michigan government has “been plagued by a lack of transparency.” In an effort to bring more transparency to the executive branch of government, she issued an executive directive.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in The Hill on March 9, 2019. 

A new plan originating in the nation’s capital could aid states in their quest to help parents do what is best for their children. It does so by offering states both flexibility and extra funding.

The UAW keeps making headlines for betraying its members’ interests. In 2017 and 2018, UAW leaders were charged in a major corruption scandal. This month, charges were brought against Norwood Jewell, a former UAW official. And now the UAW’s “flower fund” is also under federal investigation.

Natural gas has been a vitally important energy resource for Michigan over the past century. It’s taking on a growing role in our electricity system, while it also remains one of the most affordable and reliable ways to heat homes. In fact, more than 75 percent of Michigan’s households rely on natural gas as their main source of heat. Considering its important role, it’s worth the effort to learn more about the history of natural gas use in Michigan and its prospects for the future.

It used to be illegal in Michigan to use taxpayer money to benefit a private person or group. This was the "Cooley Doctrine," established by one of Michigan's most revered Supreme Court justices, Thomas Cooley. It guided state and local policy from 1870 until it was brushed aside and ignored, starting in 1941. A recent Mackinac Center study explains this legal history in detail.

A few months back, a motivated reader critiqued my IMPACT magazine article, “Thirty Years of Climate Concerns.” This reader took issue with my arguments, critiqued the sources I had cited, and suggested that I needed to review my article, “with a view to scientific accuracy.”

Conventional wisdom says that if you’re trying for policy reforms, you had better get everything you want in the first attempt. Once the Michigan Legislature takes action on a certain topic, it considers the issue “fixed,” and its appetite to address other similar reforms greatly diminishes.

In today's deeply divided political climate, it may be tempting to rally behind an education budget proposal supported by governors from both major parties. But in the case of cyberschool funding, the point of agreement remains fundamentally misguided and unfair.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in The Hill on March 2, 2019.

Labor leaders are enjoying a round of self-congratulatory press, claiming to have survived a Supreme Court ruling that these very leaders, just months earlier, were predicting could spell the end of the labor movement. Their celebrations ignore the country’s trend toward worker freedom.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in The Detroit News on March 9, 2019. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for a $2.1 billion increase in state spending, supported mainly from a tax hike on fuel. A large fuel tax increase should come as no surprise from a candidate who ran on fixing the roads. But the extra revenue isn’t entirely going to be prioritized to roads.

Crain’s Detroit Business has named Patricia Benner, vice president of operations at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, among the “notable women in HR” for 2019.

The business magazine noted:

As legislators discuss how to respond to Gov. Whitmer’s plan to fix the roads by taxing fuel at the highest rates in the country, residents should know that Lansing has more money in this recovery to address state fiscal priorities.

The state is currently budgeted to spend $8.7 billion more in revenue from the income tax, the sales tax, fuel taxes and other state revenue sources than it did in 2010. This is a 14.5 percent revenue gain above inflation.

As part of her first budget proposal, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to shower more tax money on the state's preschool program. Yet this strategy offers very little hope of improving "early learning and literacy," as touted.

Whitmer's executive budget includes a call for an extra $84 million for the state's Great Start Readiness Program. GSRP is the state's program to subsidize preschool enrollment for 4-year-olds who are "educationally disadvantaged." The funding is distributed through the state's intermediate school districts. In 2018, ISDs used about 9 percent of GSRP funds for administrative and central office services.