Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on July 13, 2019.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has emphasized the need for “better skills, better jobs.”

When lawmakers approved a bill to require local governments to report to the state on their retirement systems, we warned that some local officials will abuse this process to hike taxes. The Charter Township of Bloomfield in Oakland County looks like it’s in the process of proving the point.

Parents considering different high school options might look at a host of criteria to determine how well the school will help their teenager succeed. Graduation rates, standardized test scores and college enrollment rates all might make the list.

Federal legislation has been introduced that would mandate a rise in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. I have often wondered — and in writing — if supporters of such mandates understand simple economic concepts or if they have familiarized themselves with scholarly research on the minimum wage.

It was an honor to be invited to attend President Trump’s July 8 remarks at the White House on environmental progress. I was able to join a group of similarly focused policy experts who deal with energy and environmental issues all across the nation. President Trump’s comments focused on how we can develop both a clean environment and a strong economy, and he highlighted recent policy changes that are making that idea a reality.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on June 29, 2019. 

Summer is here and with it comes the usual urge for adventure, which often means travel. It probably doesn’t surprise you that some state and local governments spend millions of taxpayer dollars to try to lure you and your money.

Despite claims by Michigan’s largest electric company that the Pine River wind facility is the most cost-effective wind project in the state, it does not compete with similar projects in other states.

On March 8, DTE Energy started producing electricity at the Pine River Wind Park in Gratiot and Isabella counties. This new industrial wind generation facility is billed by the utility and media as “DTE’s most cost-effective and cost-efficient wind project to date.” But this claim deserves a closer look.

It’s no secret that lawmaking is a complex process. And yet, no matter the topic policymakers consider, the government should always set out with the same intention: to serve the public and protect their rights. Michigan carries some laws on its books, however, that criminalize behavior that in no way threaten our rights or safety. Two of the many rules created by the Michigan Department of Agriculture, for example, call for criminal punishments. Described below are two rules created by the Michigan Department of Agriculture that carry criminal punishments for acts that don’t merit such a penalty.

Lawmakers do not need to find $1.9 billion or even $1.0 billion for the roads in a single year. Road repairs are long-term projects, and the state needs to gradually spend more to ensure that roads are put back together faster than they fall apart.

The Mackinac Center joined a coalition of 30 free market organizations urging President Trump to press on with his administration’s efforts to reform Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on June 20, 2019. 

The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to decide whether to hear Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, a case that reveals the harm a state constitutional amendment marked by religious bias can do to families.

If a typical resident approached his or her legislators to get taxpayers to pay for, say, a new recliner, that person might find a sympathetic ear. Legislators want to please their constituents. But it’s doubtful that a lawmaker would introduce the Comfort Michigan subsidy program for select recliner purchases.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in The Hill on June 14, 2019.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently stated that she would “love to sign a bill that repeals right-to-work.” Michigan has been a right-to-work state since 2012, when then-Gov. Rick Snyder signed the Freedom to Work legislation into law. In all, 27 states are right-to-work, giving workers the freedom to choose whether to join and pay a union — or not.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on June 23, 2019.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer believes that children today worry about water quality while kids in the 1970s didn’t have to. But kids back then were aware of key policy issues, like water quality, and since that time water quality has significantly improved.

Lawmakers negotiate over their priorities in the annual budget process. This involves trade-offs: A dollar for schools is a dollar that doesn’t go to the roads or to prisons or to any other use. Lawmakers try to find the right balance for the best allocation of the state’s limited revenues.

About the time Michigan and some of the surrounding Midwestern states were adopting right-to-work laws, several unions decided to try a new challenge to these laws. Right-to-work laws allow employees to choose whether to pay a union or not. When states do not have right-to-work laws, employees can be fired if they do not pay money to a union.

The right to own and use property has been one of the cornerstones of a successful and prosperous economy. Despite this, the courts have often been negligent to downright hostile to property owners who seek to enforce their rights against government intrusion. For that reason, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Knick v. Township of Scott, 588 US ___ (2019) may turn out to be a watershed moment. The issue in Knick is how the courts treat a “taking” of private property for public benefit. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” There are two parts to that. First, it’s clear that a government can take property for public use. This power is called eminent domain. It is widely accepted by courts and elected officials, and it makes it easier for governments to build roads, military bases and other facilities. But, second, the government must pay fair compensation for what it takes.

Michigan residents are not likely to be happy with whatever lawmakers decide to do on the roads. It’s tough to please voters on the issue.

There is a lot of pressure to hike taxes. The pressure comes not just from the governor, who wants to use her $2.5 billion tax hike to spend $1.9 billion on the roads and $600 million on other priorities, but from every other spending interest in the state. Schools, universities, local governments, business subsidy interests and other direct recipients of taxpayer funding rarely argue about the ineffectiveness of others’ spending, and they cheer for each other’s tax hikes.

Most Michigan school district and union officials would have you believe that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s K-12 budget proposal represents a dramatic break from recent history. She calls for a sizeable increase in spending, one that is similar to what the state has been adding in recent years. It is also less of an increase than what lawmakers added two years ago.

Democrats in Congress recently unveiled legislation that is a union wish list: it limits the freedoms of workers and gives more power to labor unions, who are often some of the biggest supporters of Democratic candidates. It’s called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019, or PRO Act.

It is possible to spend more money on the roads without raising taxes in Michigan. That’s not just a Mackinac Center recommendation: Both chambers of the Michigan Legislature passed budgets that found more transportation money without raising tax rates. And both do so, in part, by decreasing support for corporate welfare.

Families who have faced obstacles in their efforts to give their children with special-needs the best shot at academic and life success can take heart from a pair of recent court rulings that should affect education in this state.

In 2018 the U.S. Department of Education handed Michigan the lowest rating among the 50 states for the way it delivered special education services. The rating, which is determined heavily by measurable outcomes for students, came about the same time federal courts were raising the expectations for what schools must do under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.