Results 181 to 200 of 244

Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling: A 2016 Update

Click here to view the PDF of the full study.

Introduction

Since 2008 the Mackinac Center for Public Policy — and more recently in conjunction with the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation — has worked to estimate the degree to which cigarettes are smuggled into and out of American states. Our research, and that of other scholars too, suggests that smuggling is a rampant problem, particularly in states with high cigarette excise taxes.

Unintended and unforeseen consequences are a frequent problem in public policy. Few politicians realize when they vote for higher excise taxes that doing so may dramatically increase cigarette-related crime, such as smuggling. These crimes not only deprive local and state governments of tax revenues, they also tend to descend into violence, which produces all sorts of unnecessary damage. Policymakers should take these realities into consideration when contemplating how much to tax cigarettes.

This report analyzes the relationship between cigarette tax rates and cigarette smuggling rates. It relies on the same statistical model used in our previous studies, but uses the latest available data from 2014. New York State once again claims the highest smuggling rate in the nation. In fact, according to our analysis, New Yorkers consume more smuggled cigarettes than they do legally taxed ones. New York state has the highest excise tax rate on cigarettes in the country at $4.35 per pack and New York City adds another $1.50 tax. Arizona, Washington state, New Mexico and Minnesota round out the top five states for percentage of in-bound smuggling. Michigan ranks 12th, down two positions.

Problems With Estimating the Union Wage Premium

Click here to view the PDF of the full study.

The “union wage premium” — the amount a union worker makes in wages and salary above a similar nonunion worker — is often used to highlight the potential value of joining a union. Unions claim that if workers unionize, their wages will increase, because allegedly the average union worker makes more than the average nonunion worker. If this were universally true, it seems like a compelling argument for enrolling in a union. However, the decline in union membership rates over the last several decades shows that an increasing number of workers have not been persuaded to join existing unions or organize new ones, suggesting that they are not convinced that becoming a union member will automatically boost their pay.

Some still maintain that union members earn significantly more, on average, than nonunion workers: the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations union says that “union workers’ wages are 27 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts” and the U.S. Secretary of Labor claims that union workers make $950 per week compared to nonunion workers’ $750 per week. But these statistics are based on a relatively simplistic view of the data. As this paper will demonstrate, there are significant challenges to using official government data to estimate the size of the union wage premium.

An Evaluation of Michigan's 21st Century Jobs Fund

In 2005, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm launched a project intended to stimulate he state’s economy: the 21st Century Jobs Fund. At the time the state had not yet recovered from the 2001 national recession and was suffering the country’s highest unemployment levels.

After a tough political battle to establish the program and after making a number of compromises, the 21st Century Jobs Fund was created. The program was to be funded from 2006 to 2015, and in the 2013-14 legislative session, under a new governor and Legislature, it was extended until 2019 and provided with $75 million in continued annual funding.

After ten years of existence, this program has received little attention and its effectiveness has never been measured. All government programs should be reviewed regularly, and it is time for a close look at the 21st Century Jobs Fund.

Michigan School Privatization Survey 2016

Click here to view the PDF of the full study.

This is the 14th edition of the Mackinac Center's annual school privatization survey. We ask every school district in the state if they outsource one of the three main noninstructional services — custodial, transportation and food services. The results from this year's survey show that 70 percent of school districts contract out for at least one of these services.

Worker's Choice

Freeing unions and workers from forced representation

Where there’s a unionized workplace, there’s forced representation. That’s true regardless of whether a state is right-to-work or not. Even if a union can’t get a worker fired for not paying dues, the worker is still bound by union representation.

A Survey of Michigan's Private Education Sector

Click here to view the PDF of the full study.

According to data collected by the state, Michigan has 601 private schools that enroll about 113,000 students — about 7 percent of all students in the state. All but 14 of Michigan’s 84 counties have at least one private school operating within their boundaries. Despite the fact that private schools in Michigan are widespread, there is very little publicly available information about them. In response to this need, the Mackinac Center, with the help of the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools, conducted a survey of private school administrators from all across the state.

School Spending and Student Achievement in Michigan: What's the Relationship?

Click here to view the PDF of the full study.

Does Michigan devote enough money to primary and secondary education? Do school districts receive enough revenue to ensure the vast majority of enrolled students graduate college or career ready? How much does it cost to provide a quality educational experience? These are the types of questions for which the Michigan Legislature recently paid nearly $400,000 to obtain some answers.

These answers would clearly be helpful to policymakers who determine how many tax dollars to allocate to schools. But these concerns about the adequate level of school funding are based in part on the common assumption that spending more on K-12 schools will generate better academic outcomes. A more fundamental question that policymakers might want to answer before determining the appropriate level of funding for schools is: What is the relationship between school spending and student achievement in Michigan?

That is the question this paper attempts to answer.

To read a response to a critique of this study, click here.

Civil Forfeiture in Michigan: A Review and Recommendations for Reforms

Forfeiture is a practice by which law enforcement transfers assets – cash, vehicles, homes, etc. – from private citizens to the government. Criminal forfeiture occurs after the conviction of a person and is widely-accepted as legitimate.

The problem is with civil forfeiture.

Civil forfeiture occurs outside of the criminal justice system and does not require a conviction of a crime. This has led to instances of abuse in Michigan, which has among the lowest-rated forfeiture laws in the United States. The Mackinac Center believes property should only be transferred from citizens to the government after a criminal conviction is secured.

This study explains how civil forfeiture works, how it differs from criminal forfeiture and what reforms state policymakers should consider in order to protect the rights of Michigan residents.

Bringing Financial Transparency to Michigan's Public Sector Unions

Nathan Mehrens, a labor expert who helped implement financial reporting requirements for private sector unions while serving at the U.S. Department of Labor, explains how Michigan should reform its union transparency laws. Most public sector unions do not have to publicly disclose meaningful financial information, and Mehrens argues that Michigan lawmakers should adopt financial reporting requirements similar to those used by the federal government.

Worker's Choice: Freeing Unions and Workers from Forced Representation

Worker’s Choice provides a method to fix the "free/forced rider" issue that exists in right-to-work states. Without requiring a complete overhaul of collective bargaining laws, this policy can free unions from having to provide services to employees who do not support them, and allow individual employees to represent themselves and negotiate independently with their employers.

Unionization for the 21st Century: Solutions for the Ailing Labor Movement

For years union membership has been in decline. In 2012 union membership hit the lowest percentage of the American workforce since 1916. The union business model, based largely on industrial organizing efforts from the 1930s, does not appear to carry over well for today’s educated and transient workforce. This study outlines several ideas that unions could embrace that would grow their membership and improve the services workers receive.