The Mackinac Center at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference

For more than 25 years, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has been a consistent, nonpartisan advocate for market-based solutions to Michigan’s public policy challenges.

As our state’s leadership engages with the pillar topics at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference, here’s research-based, free-market policies to make life better for the people of Michigan.

The Mackinac Center at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference

The Mackinac Center says:

State pension systems across Michigan are facing a crisis that threatens workers, retirees, businesses, taxpayers and residents who rely on public services. For decades, state legislators and governors, Republican and Democrat, have promised billions more in pensions than has been saved to pay for them. And despite now spending an extra $1 billion more than the state did just five years ago, the policymakers still aren’t making the full payment required to pay the estimated costs of the largest pension system. This repeated underfunding has led to large liabilities that will require severe cuts to public services. Teacher pensions take up 36 percent of school payroll costs, often limiting teacher wage increases and compelling cuts to other school services.

We must fulfill our promises to all retirees and every current public employee who chooses to remain in the pension system, but it’s time to follow the lead of both Michigan’s private sector as well as state employees by closing the school pension system to new members and moving them to a 401(k)-style, defined-contribution plan, as well as encouraging local municipalities to do the same for their employees.

Shifting new government workers to a defined contribution plan ensures fairness to them by preventing the state from underfunding going forward, helps prevent cuts to basic government services by schools and municipalities and saves future taxpayers from having to pay the costs of previous generations.

Learn more about pension reform in Michigan here:

The Mackinac Center at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference

The Mackinac Center says:

  • Detroiters face some of the nation’s highest taxes at every level – income, business, property and more. Entrepreneurs in the city are being strangled by a tax burden that still fails to provide effective city services. more

  • One in five Michiganders needs a government license to work. Most licenses are arbitrary and offer little to no benefit to the public, while keeping low-income and immigrant entrepreneurs from starting jobs. more

  • Modern entrepreneurs such as Uber and Lyft drivers need to be given a simple statewide regulatory framework that doesn’t put them at the mercy of local officials. more

  • Give unions the incentive to be entrepreneurial and provide value to their members by giving workers a recurring choice on which union – if any – should represent them. more

The Mackinac Center at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference

The Mackinac Center says:

In this video, parents speak out urging lawmakers to vote against the Detroit Education Commission.

  • Parents in Detroit and elsewhere deserve high-quality options for their children’s education. They don’t need a new education bureaucracy in the form of a Detroit Education Commission.

  • DPS Emergency Manager Judge Steven Rhodes said that the proposed Detroit Education Commission is an attempt to protect DPS by limiting “new charter schools or other kinds of educational opportunities.” That’s the last thing the city needs. more

  • Charter schools work in Detroit. They provide the equivalent of two to three months of extra learning each year compared to Detroit Public Schools. more

  • Charter schools are not growing out of control and, unlike failed DPS schools, they do close when they’re not doing a good job educating kids. In the past few years, there has only been a net gain of four charter schools in Detroit. (The state has never closed a DPS school for academic reasons.) more

  • Charter schools are not to blame for the collapse of Detroit Public Schools, which began long before charters became widespread. more

  • Charter schools are more efficient, achieving better educational results for less money. Detroit Public Schools spends an average of $18,000 per students while charter schools in the city spend an average of about $10,000. more

The Mackinac Center at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference

The Mackinac Center says:

  • Central planning doesn’t work: Don’t mistake economic interference for economic development. more

  • State investments are not and cannot ever be large enough to truly move the economic needle, but they crowd out broad-based tax cuts that can actually have an impact. more

  • Past efforts to pick favored industries and subsidize them have failed. Remember battery plants? more

  • The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is neither effective nor trustworthy when it comes to its claims of “investment” benefits. more