No matter how much money schools get, you can find claims that they are underfunded. Even today, with Michigan schools spending more than they ever have before, we see that claim. But it’s misguided.

A recent editorial in the Iron Mountain Daily News laments teacher shortages and asserts that Michigan school districts can’t fix the problem because they are “strapped for cash.” Paula Herbart, president of the Michigan Education Association, similarly calls for more funding for schools so they can increase teachers’ salaries.

The Mackinac Center strongly opposes the new version of HB 4001 to be considered later today. We specifically object to two provisions of the agreement:

Were the “inflation relief check” proposal packaged as a separate item and not as part of a manipulation to disable the automatic tax-cut trigger, its single virtue would be that it disgorges excessive tax revenues from government and returns them to the taxpayers rather than wasting them on new programs and bloated bureaucracy.

Steve Liedel of the Dykema law firm made two fundamental legal errors when he was interviewed on this week’s MIRS Monday podcast.

In a discussion of Gov. Whitmer’s response to an automatic income tax rollback that could be triggered this year, Liedel took the view that the 2015 law creating the rollback is misunderstood and/or is unconstitutional. But he got two important points wrong.

Michigan lawmakers should be careful about the upcoming year’s budget.

There is a lot of uncertainty about what is coming, but lawmakers have more than $8 billion in extra cash on their hands. They should adopt a Sustainable Michigan Budget to ensure that spending grows no more than the average taxpayer can afford.

Lawmakers portray themselves as being in a high-stakes war with other states over jobs, thus needing to offer select businesses more subsidies in order to grow the economy. “For too long, we were fighting with a hand tied behind our back. Now we’ve got the upper hand,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in her State of the State address.

In the two capital cities that matter to Michigan — Lansing and Washington, D.C. — lawmakers in both parties have moved past their COVID concern.

If you were looking for a sign that life was back to normal, consider the case of State Rep. Natelie Price, D-Berkley.

The percentage of workers who are members of a labor union is the lowest that has ever been recorded, according to recently released federal data.

Only 10.1% of workers belonged to a union in 2022. The percentage of private sector workers who are members of a labor union was 6.0%. The percentage of unionized public sector workers was also down, from 33.9% in 2021 to 33.1% last year.

The federal 340B drug pricing program isn’t a bad idea in theory. The federal government requires manufacturers to sell discounted drugs to nonprofit hospitals serving a high percentage of low-income residents. The idea is that this will lower drug costs for the poor. The government essentially offloads the costs of providing drugs from taxpayers to drug manufacturers.

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

The QLine, initially known as the M-1 Rail, is a streetcar running three miles along Woodward Ave. in Detroit. It has not lived up to any of the overwrought promises advocates made. Fiscal conservatives and transit advocates alike criticize the line, which has never seen significant ridership.

The Mackinac Center debuted its Business Subsidy Scorecard, hosted by, in 2018. The scorecard attempts to quantify the dollar value of business subsidies authorized by each Michigan legislator since 2001. An explanation of the criteria by which legislative record votes are added to the scorecard can be read here.

When Michigan lawmakers increased fuel and vehicle registration taxes in 2015, they also pledged to reduce income tax revenue in the future if a certain condition was met. Now it has been met, but Democratic lawmakers are reportedly working to stop the income tax cut for everyone in order to shift hundreds of millions of dollars to big corporations.

In her 2023 State of the State address, Gov. Whitmer proposed an age eligibility change to Michigan Reconnect, a program that allows Michigan residents 25 and older with no degree to attend community college at no additional cost to them. The governor wants to lower the eligibility age for Michigan Reconnect to 21.

The Overton Window podcast looks at issues around the country and talks to the people who change what is politically possible. It’s meant to inform people about how policies shift from being unthinkable to being irresistible. The most frequent, tried and true method to get legislation enacted is by meeting with elected officials and asking them to pass legislation. This fundamental expression of First Amendment rights is otherwise known as lobbying. And I spoke with Beth DeShone, the executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project, about her experience in issue lobbying.

If you want to feed sparrows, you can do it either by spreading the feed right on the ground, or by feeding the horse and letting the sparrows pick through what is left behind. Everyone knows which is more efficient.

Everyone except most current Michigan lawmakers and “economic development” officials.

Half of the people on Earth are alive today thanks to nitrogenous fertilizers made of and with natural gas.

So why are governments at home and abroad scrambling to cut off humanity’s natural gas supply?

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has spent years trying to shut down the Line 5 natural gas pipeline – precipitating an international disagreement that puts the state in conflict with both the Biden administration and the Trudeau government. Other natural gas projects in the United States have been attacked, shut down, or blocked, while investment in oil and gas is also under fire.

A recently released University of Michigan study promotes the alleged economic and environmental benefits of a transition to electric vehicles. But the study’s emphasis on fuel costs vs. overall costs limits its real-world applicability. The claimed environmental benefits of the transition are also questionable, and the policy interventions recommended by the authors fail to solve critical affordability issues.

Michigan’s new Democratic majority wants to end taxation of pensions. And new bills in Lansing promise to do just that over time. But we should ask why legislators want to give preferences to just one type of retirement income.

In 2011, lawmakers replaced the exemption of pension income from the state income tax with a deduction for any time of income for seniors at $20,000 for single filers and $40,000 for joint filers. This meant that couples would pay taxes only on pensions above $40,000 and early retirees would be subject to income taxes until they got to age 67.

It’s becoming almost routine to see headlines filled with dire warnings that Michigan and the Midwest are becoming a “climate haven” – a place to which people can escape from allegedly inhospitable temperatures and disappearing shorelines. The stories describe a nation plagued by worsening storms, increased droughts, colder winters, blazing summer, both higher and lower snowpacks, and a host of other environmental calamities brought on by a changing climate. But the Great Lakes region, we are told, offers shelter for those who have been displaced by the growing threat of climate chaos.

“The past is a foreign country,” novelist L.P Hartley once remarked. “They do things differently there.” In politics, the bounds of the Overton Window change over time and people live with the compromises that those foreigners made. I talk about these changes with long-time Detroit Free Press reporter Dawson Bell for this week’s Overton Window podcast.

Most people can agree that basic functions of government are necessary for an orderly society. Beyond basic functions, however, less is more when it comes to government.

One reason is that government is by nature inefficient.

Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Government has only other people’s money to spend. The person whose money is being spent has only indirect means to influence where government decides to spend it.

There’s no denying that Pete Martel did something bad. In 1994, he pled guilty to armed robbery and assault after robbing a store and firing a gun at police.

If he had hit or killed an officer or bystander, he probably wouldn’t be out of prison today. As it is, he served 14 years.

This article originally appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business Nov. 28, 2022.

After gaining control of both the state House and Senate, Michigan Democrats are already announcing what to expect from the first Democratic trifecta in just under 38 years. One major policy priority: repealing the state’s right-to-work law. They should reconsider, as right-to-work laws are better for workers, for unions, and for the economy.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News December 14, 2022.

Michigan Democrats have made it clear that they are interested in repealing right-to-work. There are many reasons why they shouldn’t, and one is that doing so could silence the voices of the rank-and-file members of the United Auto Workers.

This article originally appeared in The Hill November 12, 2022.

Flawed energy policies are harming our ability to meet everyday needs. That is the conclusion of a soon-to-be-released paper focusing on the value of fuels such as natural gas with regard to maintaining and improving human health and welfare. Natural gas, explains the report from the McNair Center at Northwood University and Michigan’s Mackinac Center, is a wellspring for America and the world’s energy future.

Vote NO on HB 4001

Less is more