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The Christmas Eve Hijacking

The Michigan legislature squandered an opportunity to reform education when it arrived at a Christmas Eve "compromise" package that largely reaffirmed the status quo-a watered-down charter school program, limited parental choice, and almost no cost containment.

When Opposites Attract: Public Schools and Private Enterprise

Without additional spending, school administrators can take advantage of private sector expertise, accountability, and cost-effectiveness for public education.

The Most Expensive Lottery Tickets in the Country?

Thanks to a 1937 law requiring state printing be done according to "prevailing wages," Michigan pays one-third more for printing lottery tickets than Indiana, Kentucky, and New York. Repealing it would save taxpayers more than $2 million.

The Rise and Fall of Michigan Cities

Michigan's growth cities during the 1980s were also the ones that taxed and spent the least, while the state's declining cities taxed and spent the most. Detroit's dramatic decline was due in part to a tax burden seven times higher than the average Michigan municipality.

When Local Control Means Control by Locals

The Michigan Education Association claims to support more local control and site-based management but opposes charter schools and choice.

More Spending Not the Solution to School Woes

Per pupil spending and average teacher salary have little impact on student performance. Michigan needs to devote less attention to cash and more to strengthening the role of parents to make progress in improving education.

MESSA: Insurance for Political Power

In more than 300 of Michigan's 524 K-12 public school districts, costly health insurance for school employees is administered by an organization whose practices are secretive and monopolistic.

The Hazards of Cigarette Taxes

When government seeks new revenues, "sin taxes" are among the first proposed. It should be recognized that cigarette taxes are regressive and smokers already pay the full costs of their habit.

Send the Cash, Keep the Change

Genuine school reformers say, "Change the system so schools can work better, and we will be happy to fund them." Unfortunately, many of those in the government education monopoly say, "Send the cash, keep the change."

Charter Schools as Catalysts for Change

Charter schools can transform the culture of public education into opportunities to do things better. Other states have shown they can inspire new ways of thinking about education.

How Well Do Schools Prepare Their Students?

Today, too many students have poor reading and writing skills, little motivation to learn, and minimal ability to reason. When East Harlem, New York, adopted a choice plan, student motivation and academic achievement improved dramatically.

Putting Incentive to Work in Education

The Mackinac Center's innovative Education Credit Account concept encourages schools to work harder and smarter to give parents hope for higher education for their children, whether they choose public or private schools.

Real-life Stories Show Need for School Choice

Proponents of educational choice should not allow the opposition to depersonalize the debate. This commentary cites instances that show how the absence of choice hurts children.

Do Schools Really Need More Money?

Contracting custodial work, busing, and food services can save schools money. If schools paid what most retailers pay for custodial work, they could save over $1 million dollars per year.

Michigan's Economics Knowledge Deficit

Economics is a subject that dominates public policy discussion, but it's being short-changed in Michigan's schools. Sound economics knowledge is a blueprint for a sound economy.

Sales Tax on Services a Bad Idea

Michigan should learn from Florida's failed 1987 attempt to extend its sales tax to cover services. If done, it would disadvantage small businesses which compete with large firms and boost the state's administrative costs.

Privatized Child Foster Care Works for Michigan

Private agencies in Michigan are providing foster care for children that is less costly than that provided by the state. This example of privatization is an important success story.

Cost of Government Day: July 13, 1993

The average American spends over half his time laboring to pay the total price of government spending and regulations. This should remind us that a government that's big enough to give us everything is also big enough to take everything we have.

Airports are Going Private

Since Great Britain sold seven major commercial airports in 1987, airport privatization has taken off everywhere. Neighboring Canada has privatized four of its largest airports. The track record is such that responsible public officials at the federal, state, and local levels can no longer dismiss the idea.

Certificates of Need: Poor Health Care Policy

Michigan's CON law requires hospitals and nursing homes to secure state approval before making certain capital expenditures. This regulation restricts competition, curtails investment, requires costly paperwork, and actually raises operating costs.

NAFTA and the Benefits of Free Trade

Genuine free trade with our neighbors would broaden consumer choice, increase trade and investment opportunities, create new jobs, and make more goods available at lower cost. The North American Free Trade Agreement could be strengthened if its protectionist features were removed.

Tax Cut Plan Avoids Mistakes of the Past

The 1993 statewide ballot proposal known as "Proposal A" had its flaws but nonetheless would have provided tax reductions then, true tax limitation in the future, and predictability of assessments for overtaxed property owners.

The Most Promising Health Care Reform

Medical Savings Accounts would encourage Americans to pay smaller medical bills out-of-pocket. Low-cost, high-deductible insurance could then take care of larger bills. The MSA idea avoids price controls, rationing, and huge tax increases.

Hyping the Head Start Program

The $2.2 billion Head Start program for low-income preschoolers is a successful education experiment-if success is measured by good public relations. Unfortunately for its advocates, there is virtually no evidence that Head Start has any significant, long-term impact on children's lives.

The High Cost of Bad Law

Repeal of Michigan's Prevailing Wage Act of 1965 would end a special interest subsidy and make more funds available for such things as education, mental health, or job creation through a lower tax burden on private enterprise.

Taxing Savings Destroys Jobs

An analysis of Clinton tax proposals concluded that 2.3 million private sector jobs would be lost over six years if certain policies became law.

The Looming Threat to NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement is supposed to reduce government intervention and eliminate trade barriers. Efforts to transform it into a labor and environmental treaty, however, threatened to cancel out its free-trade advantages and prevent its passage by Congress.

An Agenda for Choice and Quality in Education

A brief list of reforms for education includes making state aid "portable" across school district lines, saving money through privatization, empowering local school management, and encouraging teacher entrepreneurship.

Time to Strengthen the Headlee Amendment

The 1978 Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution restricted government spending and taxation and provided important protection to taxpayers, cities and counties. Problems have arisen, however, that deserve the attention of Governor Engler's special commission.

A School Choice Program That's Working

The southern Wayne County town of Wyandotte has implemented a "program of choice" as a result of changes in the law that already is bestowing benefits other Michigan localities would be well-advised to adopt.

Taxes Make a Bigger Difference Than You Think

The next time you purchase something, think of its cost in terms of what your gross earnings have to be in order for you to afford it. In many cases, taxes almost double the cost of goods and services.

Washington Should Kick the Mandate Habit (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Congress has a knack for mandating programs and then dumping the costs on the states. Such unfunded mandates are costing Michigan nearly $100 million in just the Medicaid program alone and, in the process, preempting the discretion of Lansing lawmakers to use scarce funds.

Let's Get Serious About Educational Choice

Irregular school board and bond election dates confuse voters, decrease turnout, and enable narrow special interests to unduly influence public school governance. Consolidating all school elections on the November ballot would alleviate these problems.

Michigan Hurt by Erosion of "Employment-at-Will"

The judicial assault on employment relationships in the free marketplace has burdened Michigan business with costly litigation. We need to restore the freedoms of contract and association in the "employment-at-will" doctrine.

Time to Rethink Unemployment Insurance

The unemployment insurance system extends the very unemployment it is intended to alleviate and taxes stable firms to subsidize unstable ones. It's time to consider alternatives.

Proposed Carbon Tax Would Impose Enormous Costs

A carbon-based fuels tax desired by President Clinton to reduce carbon dioxide emissions would cost thousands of jobs and produce little or no positive environmental effect.

Recycling Makes Sense--Sometimes

Recycling seems to have taken on an almost religious meaning, with the faithful wrongly assuming that "disposable" is bad and "recycling" is good, without regard to costs and disruption of markets.

Medical Savings Accounts Would Control Health Care Costs

Informed patients are better suited to make decisions about the trade-offs between money and health care expenditures. Encouraging personal medical savings accounts would help control today's spiraling health costs.

A Closer Look at Proposals A and C

The two property tax proposals on the November 1992 Michigan ballot provide a glaring distinction: one is a property tax cut and the other is not. Proposal C, despite one drawback, represents the best hope in years for real property tax reduction.

A Defense of Term Limits

Term limitation is no panacea, but it is a needed structural reform that will break the stranglehold of special interests on the electoral process. If politicians know that they must return to the private sector, they will think more carefully about the long-term effects of the programs that they impose upon the country.

The Future of Social Welfare May Be Just Down the Street

Private initiatives in meeting the needs of the poor deserve attention and encouragement. Two such efforts in Michigan, one in Grand Rapids and the other in Harrison, are helping people who were cut from the General Assistance Welfare rolls in October 1991.

Wastewater Should Be a Private Matter

The treatment of municipal wastewater doesn't have to be an expensive duty of local government. In fact, it's increasingly being thought of as something the private sector can handle better and at lower cost, with the city of Alpena, Michigan, providing a showcase example.

Selling Off the Accident Fund

State government's error in taking over a workers compensation insurer in 1989 should be undone by privatization.

Educational Choice Requires New Ways of Thinking

Though educational choice works in countries like Holland and Canada, it is being stymied in the U.S. by the idea that preserving the current system is more important than educating children.

Global Warming: Can Politicians Take the Heat?

Public policy on the environment should not be driven by "bad" science or the absence of good science. Politicians must weigh the evidence and reject emotion, propaganda, and hidden agendas in the global warming debate.

Mixing Government and Garbage

A Michigan House Republican Task Force on Recycling and Waste Reduction proposes a series of interventionist solutions to problems that would not exist if the state weren't already deeply involved in managing solid waste.

Privatization in Michigan Works--When We Let It

Contracting out government services to private sector providers-the most prominent form of "privatization"-is on a roll in Michigan, especially at the local level. With the removal of certain barriers erected in Lansing, it could advance much further.

Health Care: Solving the Administrative Costs Question

A better way to cut health care administrative costs than copying Canada's socialized system would be to introduce the innovative ideas of Medisave accounts and health care debit cards.

Dan Quayle: Correct But Not Politically Correct

Vice President Dan Quayle was right to criticize the television show Murphy Brown for promoting the idea that single working motherhood is any kind of model for healthy development of children. All social science points to quite the contrary view.

Public Housing Beset with Scandals

The Detroit Public Housing Authority's scandalous record of mismanagement is typical of many big city PHAs across the country. Tenant management is the most promising reform.