Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived here in Michigan, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has worked tirelessly to offer up policy insights and expertise to decision-makers in the state and elsewhere. Our work has run the gamut. We have filed lawsuits, produced live video content, published explanatory blog articles on the governor’s emergency powers, suggested budget reform ideas and either led or joined state-focused and national coalition efforts.
The Mackinac Center recently joined another coalition effort, this one to push for accountability and transparency in federal aid to states. The federal government is offering up trillions in aid related to the pandemic, and a national coalition of research institutes and others has formed to encourage federal policymakers to properly account for and report the funds it disburses.
The effort is being led by the R Street Institute, Truth in Accounting, the National Taxpayers Union and the Illinois Policy Institute. The coalition letter outlines a brief history of what the federal government has already done to minimize harm from the pandemic, including the CARES Act, which directed $150 billion to the states. Michigan’s take totaled nearly $3.9 billion.
As congressional leaders have been talking up yet another relief package, the coalition thought it wise to ask them to mandate what it calls the “reasonable transparency requirements of its recipients.” Specifically, the signatories ask that Congress be direct, transparent, fair and responsible.
The coalition asks that any additional aid be related only for costs directly linked to the pandemic. Of great concern to the Mackinac Center and other think tanks is the prospect of the federal government bailing out states that have irresponsibly underfunded their pensions, at the expense of those who made difficult, but necessary, reforms.
The letter also asks that Congress work to provide better and more transparent reviews of the record spending done by the federal government. Using online publishing to disclose how the funds are spent is an important part of assuring transparency. The coalition requests also that aid be distributed on a per-capita basis, a fundamental principle of simplicity and fairness. Finally, coalition partners asked Congress to encourage states that get aid to shore up their own fiscal policies with state dollars and before the use of federal dollars.
The letter can be read in its entirety here.
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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
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