Mackinac Center in the News

Luxury Is Not an Illness That Needs Cured

Donald J. Kochan, an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center and an associate professor at Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif., wrote Monday in the Los Angeles Times about Ben Franklin's views on "luxury" and how they apply to today's society. … more

It's Not Rocket Science

A Dearborn Times-Herald Op-Ed by Mike LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, points out the obvious: tax hikes kill jobs and tax cuts create them. … more

Ann Arbor 'Sculpturegate' Gets National Attention; Fox News Appearance

The Tuesday, July 22, Michigan Capitol Confidential story "The Art of the Ann Arbor City Budget" reached millions of readers, starting with an appearance on national news aggregator, the Drudge Report. The American Spectator quickly followed with a column expanding on similiar "creative" arts funding in other states. USA Today, Instapundit and Neal Boortz picked up the story as well.
This story has also received the attention of a national television network. This morning at 11:30 a.m., Mackinac Center Fiscal Policy Director Michael D. LaFaive is scheduled to discuss the story on Fox News with Jon Scott and Jenna Lee. … more

Regular Joe

Ron Dzwonkowski at the Detroit Free Press wrote an article on the late Joe Overton, the man behind the Overton Window concept of political possibilities. Overton was vice president of the Mackinac Center, and his idea of a moveable window of acceptable public policies is now the title of a best-selling novel. Dzwonkowski, however, focused on the man behind the window. … more

Contrary to Popular Belief ...

The work of Mackinac Center analysts has provided information to challenge conventional wisdom on several points, and Michigan newspapers have taken note. … more


Media outlets across the state are highlighting the debate about job-creation policies. Mackinac Center Fiscal Policy Director Michael LaFaive has long argued that tax incentives and subsidies are not the path to improving Michigan's economy. … more

The 'Green' in Green Jobs Is Money

Centrally planned jobs with a "green" focus are not the way to boost the economy in Michigan or nationwide, a Mackinac Center analyst told The Daily Caller, a Washington, D.C.-based political news website. … more

Detroit Taking Center's Advice 8 Years Later

The city of Detroit is slowly moving toward adopting a recommendation Center analysts made more than eight years ago. … more

Students Prepare for Careers in Sagging Michigan Film Industry

The cost of the Michigan film subsidy program continues to be ignored, according to a Mackinac Center fiscal analyst. … more

G.R. Press: AG's Office Knew About Hangar42 Months Ago; Legislators Addressing Transparency

Attorney General Mike Cox's office knew about concerns regarding the Hangar42 film studio as early as February, according to a story in today's Grand Rapids Press. Cox, however, did not officially announce an investigation of the film subsidy deal until a day after being called on to do so by Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Director Patrick J. Wright… more

Center Analysts Detail Public-Sector Power

The amount of state resources consumed by and the political leverage of public-sector employees were the focus of two Op-Eds by Mackinac Center analysts in The Oakland Press today. … more

Columnist: Film Subsidy Proponents Should Welcome Transparency

A Grand Rapids Press columnist said Sunday that those who support film subsidies in Michigan should embrace scrutiny of the program. … more

Subpoenas Issued in Hangar42 Investigation

Michigan Film Office Director Janet Lockwood said she has received a subpoena as part of the Michigan Attorney General's investigation of movie studio Hangar42, according to WWMT-TV3 in Grand Rapids. … more

DPS Suit: Who's to Blame?

The lawsuit filed by the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education against Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb is "unprecedented," according to Education Policy Director Michael Van Beek. … more

Attorney General Investigating Hangar42

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox's office has heeded calls from Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Director Patrick J. Wright to investigate the Hangar42 movie studio subsidy deal, according to The Grand Rapids Press… more

Center Calls for Hangar42 Investigation Cited

Lansing political newsletters Gongwer and MIRS (subscriptions required) today both cite this Mackinac Center news release that calls for an official investigation of the Hangar42 movie studio deal. … more

Joe Lehman Explains the Overton Window on Fox News Channel With Glenn Beck

Mackinac Center President Joseph G. Lehman appeared on "The Glenn Beck Show" on Fox News Channel Wednesday evening to discuss the Overton Window of Political Possibility, a theory created in the mid-1990s by Joseph P. Overton, the Center's late senior vice president. … more

Joe Lehman to Discuss 'Overton Window' on Glenn Beck Show at 5:20 P.M. on Fox News Channel

Mackinac Center President Joseph G. Lehman is scheduled to appear on "The Glenn Beck Show" on Fox News Channel at around 5:20 p.m. EDT today to discuss the Overton Window of Political Possibility, a theory created in the mid-1990s by Joseph P. Overton, the Center's late senior vice president. … more

New Questions Arise Over Hangar42 Funding

Questions continue to arise over the Hangar42 movie studio deal, including this breaking news from reporter Chris Knape at The Grand Rapids Press that outlines the involvement of a state representative's office in obtaining a tax subsidy for the project. … more

Film Office Director Agrees With Center on Hangar42 Movie Studio Deal

The Grand Rapids Press and WOOD-TV are reporting that Michigan Film Office Director Janet Lockwood agreed with Mackinac Center analysts that a proposed movie studio seeking state subsidies is questionable. … more

Parent-Judge Conferences?

Is threatening parents with jail time the best way to get them involved with their children's education. … more

The Overton Window at The Corner

John Miller at National Review Online writes about the "Overton Window of Political Possibility" and how Glenn Beck has adapted the name for his new book. … more

Film Subsidy Rationale Revealed: Pixie Dust!

It's hard to find a reputable, independent economist willing to argue that transferring millions of tax dollars from households and businesses to filmmakers is a rational, plausible economic development strategy. Most scratch their heads at a program that pays 42 percent of the expense of producers who make a movie here and 25 percent to developers who install a film production facility. … more

Joe Lehman Talks About the Overton Window With Glenn Beck

Mackinac Center President Joseph G. Lehman appeared on Glenn Beck's radio show today to discuss the Overton Window of Political Possibility, according to the Midland Daily News… more

Transparency Demanded for Film Subsidy Program

A Detroit News editorial today calls for more transparency from the Michigan Film Office in the wake of a months-long investigation by Mackinac Center analysts that raised several questions about a Grand Rapids-area movie studio deal. … more

Michigan Capitol Confidential Praised

A columnist in the Washington Examiner said Michigan Capitol Confidential "is providing a valuable service to news consumers" as "news coverage in the state capital dwindles." … more

Tax Hikes Will Force More Michigan Residents Out

Gov. Granholm's call to raise taxes yet again in order to fix the latest budget overspending crisis she and the Legislature have created will send more Michigan residents packing, according to this Op-Ed in The Oakland Press by Morey Fiscal Policy Director Michael LaFaive. … more

MEDC Failures Lead to Less Transparency

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. creates more job announcements than jobs, Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, points out in this Lansing State Journal Op-Ed… more

Freedom of, not From, Information

Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, explains in a Detroit Free Press Op-Ed today why the Mackinac Center and the Michigan Press Association jointly filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court in a Freedom of Information Act case stemming from e-mails and teachers union business in Howell Public Schools. … more

Michigan Teacher Pay Tops in the Nation

Michigan public school teachers are the highest paid in the country when compared to state wealth, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus… more

Statewide Media Respond to MEDC Complaints Over Criticism of its Failures

A columnist for Michigan Business Review says the Michigan Economic Development Corp.'s complaints about critics who point out the agency's failures is a "highly unusual move." … more

Media Covers Grand Rapids Movie Studio Deal After Mackinac Center Analysts Release Results of Months-Long Investigation

Grand Rapids-area media have picked up on the story of unanswered questions involving the Michigan Film Office, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and a movie studio that Mackinac Center analysts uncovered. … more

When Enough Really Isn't Enough

The Michigan Education Association teachers union held protests around the state Monday behind a rallying cry of "Enough is Enough" and claiming there are "constant" cuts to education funding, according to WILX, even though the numbers are not on their side. … more

Editorial: Privatization Saves Schools Money

An editorial in today's Jackson Citizen Patriot advocates a position that Mackinac Center analysts have known for years — school privatization saves money. … more

Service Tax Not Supported by Facts

Revenue from Michigan's sales tax is expected to be down just 1 percent this year, which is one more reason why talk among legislators about expanding it to services is a bad idea, Fiscal Policy Analyst James Hohman writes in this Oakland Press Op-Ed… more

Cap-and-Trade: A Thorning Subject

Last week, Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman introduced the American Power Act, (Full text, section-by-section summary) the latest version of federal cap-and-trade legislation. Watch this Mackinac Center video to hear what impact this legislation would have on Michigan's economy. … more

Center Analyst's Research, Commentary Attract Attention

Analysis and commentary by Education Policy Director Michael Van Beek figured prominently into media coverage of teacher salaries and health care recently. … more

Michigan Teacher Salaries Highest in Nation When Compared to Relative Wealth of States

Teacher salaries in Michigan rank first in the nation when compared against relative state wealth, The Bay City Times reported. This despite claims by the Michigan Education Association that school personnel have made $1 billion in concessions over the past three years. … more

Center Analyst Details Massive Personnel Costs For Port Huron Area School District Budget

Personnel costs, primarily for salaries, insurance and retirement benefits, eat up 85 percent of the Port Huron Area School District's budget, according to this contract analysis by Mike Van Beek, education policy director, that appeared in today's Port Huron Times Herald. … more

New York Times Addresses UAW/Big 3 Issue That Center Analyst Addressed Five Weeks Ago

The New York Times has addressed an issue Labor Policy Director Paul Kersey first wrote about more than a month ago — that of the union's demands for an end to concessions despite being the beneficiary of GM and Chrysler bankruptcy restructuring. … more

Film Industry in Michigan Hits Another Snag

The News cites research by James Hohman, fiscal policy analyst, which shows Michigan film jobs have decreased despite the state handing out millions of dollars in subsidies to movie makers. … more

Teacher Retirement Plan Getting Expensive

Today's editorial in The Detroit News is titled "Reforming education retirement benefits has turned into money grab" and both cites and draws heavily from this Michigan Capitol Confidential article by Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst. … more

Mackinac Center, MPA Protecting FOIA

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation and the Michigan Press Association jointly filed an amicus brief at the Michigan Supreme Court seeking to protect the Freedom of Information Act, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus… more

Utica Teachers Agree to Concessions

Mike Van Beek, education policy director, recently wrote this analysis of the UCS teachers' contract, a version of which appeared in the print edition of the Macomb Daily over the weekend. … more

Staying on Unemployment

Generous unemployment benefits and extensions could be causing people to illegally turn down job offers, according to The Detroit News… more

Newspapers Editorialize Against Deposit Bill

Both editorials cite this recent blog post by Russ Harding, senior environmental policy analyst, in which he deemed the bill the "Newspaper Death Act." … more

Stock Market Drop Harbinger of Things to Come?

Senior economist David Littmann told The Oakland Press that Thursday's large stock market drop is an indication the United States could face a "very, very serious secondary recession." … more

Taxing Times

Politicians raiding various pots of tax money to fix their self-created overspending crises and balance the state budget have left certain line items short, according to this Detroit News editorial. … more

Center Attorney to Discuss Day Care Union E-mails

Patrick J. Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, is scheduled to be on The Frank Beckmann Show on WJR-AM760 at 9:19 a.m. to discuss several e-mails that shed light on how 40,000 home-based day care owners were shanghaied into a union despite being small-business owners. … more

Center Issues & Ideas Forum on Environment and Economics

At a Mackinac Center forum on April 29, Dr. Margaret Thorning discussed the impact cap-and-trade and other climate change legislation would have on Michigan's economy. Earlier that day, Thorning and Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst, were guests on The Frank Beckmann Show on WJR-AM760. … more

Center Expert Explains School Funding Increases

Michael Van Beek, director of education policy, corrects a common myth about school funding in "Special Report: The Changing Face of Education in Michigan," by WILX-TV in Lansing. … more

Editorial Blasts Michigan Film Subsidy Program

The editorial in today's Livingston Daily Press & Argus takes to task the Michigan film subsidy program, saying the state has failed "to produce any hard data that would allow the public - or state lawmakers, for that matter - to determine" if the giveaway is working. … more

Stealth Unionization of Small-Business Owners Called 'Skewed and Wrong'

An editorial in today's Oakland Press says that small-business owners who were forced into a union "weren't treated fairly" and that "the process of adding them to the union seems skewed and wrong." … more


House Bill 5319 is a direct threat to private property rights guaranteed in the U.S. and Michigan constitutions. … more

Michigan Film Jobs Disappear Despite Millions in Subsidies

Jobs in the film industry fell nearly 10 percent, despite Michigan giving away millions of dollars of tax money in subsidies to movie makers, according to the Detroit Free Press… more

Questions Surround Forced Unionization Scheme of Small-Business Owners, New State Agency

The shell corporation created by Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration and labor allies to shanghai 40,000 home-based day care providers into a union has "no authority to set rates or provide benefits," according to the Detroit Free Press… more

Flight Plan

Attracting residential and commercial expansion to the Detroit Region Aerotropolis — some 60,000 mostly vacant acres between the Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports — should occur using private money, according to one Mackinac Center analyst. … more

Teacher Health Insurance Costs

Schools around Michigan are cutting services and reducing staff, yet teachers in more than half of the districts statewide pay nothing toward the cost of their own health insurance. … more

Attitude Adjustment

School districts that refuse to make available online their checkbook registers are being taken to task. … more


A state legislator recently praised the Mackinac Center for its efforts to "hold the MEDC accountable." … more

Teacher Contracts Under Scrutiny

Teacher contracts are coming under greater scrutiny as Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Legislature continue to create overspending crises that mean fewer dollars going to public schools. … more

Benefits, Not Salaries, Key to School Costs

A recent Macomb Daily editorial agrees with the point made a month ago by a Mackinac Center scholar regarding proposed legislation to cap teacher and superintendent salaries. … more

Center Scholar on FDR in Wall Street Journal

A Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Mackinac Center scholar Burton Folsom Jr. and his wife Anita was the most e-mailed item on the paper's Web site Monday. … more

Small-Business Owners Object to Forced Unionization

More home-based day care providers are speaking out about being forced into a union they didn't know existed and did not vote for, according to The Oakland Press… more

Do They Really Need More Money?

The odds of a local municipality in Michigan passing a tax increase in the current economic climate are fairly low, according to Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative. … more

NFIB Criticizes Drive to Make Private Businesses and Contractors Into 'Government Employees'

NFIB Michigan State Director Charlie Owens discusses the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation's lawsuit on WJR. … more

Lehman: Bold Strokes Needed to Save Michigan

Bold strokes, such as cutting taxes and reducing the cost of public-employee benefits, are needed to help Michigan rebound, Center President Joseph G. Lehman said Tuesday as part of a panel discussion at Wayne State University. … more

NFIB Files Brief in Support of Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Case

The illegal shanghaiing of home-based day care providers into a government employees union has attracted the attention of the Small Business Legal Center at the National Federation of Independent Business. It filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court requesting that the Court grant the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation's appeal in the Loar v. DHS lawsuit challenging the forced unionization. … more

New Glenn Beck Book Title Includes Reference to Center

Radio and television host Glenn Beck's new book will be titled based on a theory established by the Center's late vice president, Joseph Overton, according to The Washington Post… more

Getting Schooled

The Lansing State Journal editorial board takes up the cause against the forced unionization of day care owners, and the Times-Herald publishes an Op-Ed by Michael Van Beek evaluating the benefits of early childhood education. … more

Paper Trail

Mackinac Center scholars cited on forced unionization, stimulus funding, transparency, open meetings and superintendent pay. … more

Broadband Lack of Success

The Detroit News cited the Mackinac Center in an editorial opposing a $25 billion broadband internet plan put forth by the Federal Communication Commission.
Arguing that "Americans can't afford it and don't need it," the piece draws upon the Mackinac Center's report on Michigan's own failed experiment with governmental broadband efforts. … more

Forced Unionization of Small-Business Owners Appealed to Michigan Supreme Court

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation has appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court its lawsuit defending the rights of small-business owners who were shanghaied into a union, according to WEYI-TV 25 in Saginaw. … more

Editorial Praises Center's School Transparency Efforts

The Center's "Show Michigan the Money" project is an "idea that makes sense in this information age," according to an editorial in today's Port Huron Times Herald… more

Center Analysts Discuss Health Care Takeover

Recently passed federal legislation allowing for a government takeover of health insurance will have negative implications for Michigan. … more

More Questions Surround Forced Unionization of Small-Business Owners, MHBCCC Funding

The Detroit News' March 22 editorial says the Department of Human Services has more explaining to do about why it continues to operate the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council, even though the Legislature voted to defund the agency. … more

Legislators Should Look Closer to Home to Cut Spending

A Detroit News editorial today calls a plan to cap salaries of public school superintendents and teachers based on what politicians are paid, "gimmicky," and cites this commentary by Mike Van Beek, director of education policy, which states that only 1 percent of school expenses go toward superintendent pay and benefits.
James Hohman, fiscal policy analyst, does have a suggestion in this Dearborn Times-Herald Op-Ed about what legislators should focus on if they really want to cut spending. … more

No Checkbook Left Behind

More Michigan public school districts are posting their checkbook registers online as a way for taxpayers to see exactly how their money is spent, but most districts get a failing grade when it comes to transparency. … more

This Just In: Convicted Embezzler's Business Awarded State Tax Subsidy

The Associated Press is reporting that a convicted embezzler currently on parole has been approved for business tax credits under the state's Michigan Economic Growth Authority program. The article also noted that when the deal was announced, the embezzler, Richard A. Short, "shared the stage" with Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Had the program managers performed even a cursory background check, they certainly would have discovered Short's past. … more

Rejecting State Employee Raise

The Michigan Information & Research Service (subscription required) reprinted this blog post by Paul Kersey, labor policy director, explaining why it would not be a violation of labor law for the Legislature to reject a 3 percent raise for state employees as some lawmakers claimed. … more

Superintendent, Teacher Pay

Senate Bill 1148, introduced recently by Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton, would limit the total compensation of public school superintendents to 75 percent of what the governor is paid and prohibit districts from paying any teacher more than what a state legislator makes. … more

Protecting Small-Business Owners From Stealth Unionization

Another lawmaker has put his support behind legislation that would end the stealth unionization of small-business owners. … more

Center Analyst Empties 'Brain Drain' Myth

Research by James Hohman, fiscal policy analyst, shows that claims of Michigan experiencing a "brain drain" are not true. … more

Trade Disagreement

A Michigan congressman wants to repeal legislation that has been one of the few bright spots in the state's slumping economy over the last decade. … more

Center Legal Analyst Testifies on Bills to End Stealth Unionization

Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Director Patrick Wright testified Tuesday on proposed legislation that would end the stealth unionization of home-based day care owners and prevent the same thing from happening to home health care workers. … more

State Employee Pay Raise Could Cost Them Jobs

Arguing against a 3 percent pay hike for state employees is actually an argument in support of saving their jobs, according to an Op-Ed in The Michigan Daily… more

CBO Agrees With Littmann — Six Weeks Later

The Congressional Budget Office today said a proposal by the Obama administration to levy a "tax" on banks would ultimately be "borne to varying degrees by an institution's customers, employees, and investors," according to ABC News.
David Littmann, the Center's senior economist, explained why the idea was faulty way back in January. … more

Editorial Praises Center Study

An editorial in today's Midland Daily News says a study about the failures of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. should be "required reading" for legislators. … more

MEA President Gets 15 Percent Pay Hike

The average salary of the 346 employees of the Michigan Education Association increased 19 percent - to more than $89,000 each - since 2005, according to the Lansing State Journal. Union President Iris Salters was paid $239,000 in 2009, the State Journal reported, which is more than four times the average pay of the classroom teachers the MEA represents. … more

Center Helps Public School District Follow State Law

Northville Public Schools removed a press release from its district Web site announcing that a school board member was running for the Michigan House of Representatives after being contacted by Tom Gantert, senior correspondent for Michigan Capitol Confidential, according to Hometown Life, part of the Observer & Eccentric newspaper chain in metro Detroit.
Senior Legal Analyst Patrick Wright explained that the press release was a violation of state campaign finance law. … more

Wall Street Journal Columnist Cites Center Scholar's Book

Daniel Henninger highlighted recently in The Wall Street Journal a book titled "The Myth of the Robber Barons:  A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America," written in 1991 by Dr. Burton Folsom Jr., senior fellow in economic education for the Mackinac Center. … more

Forced Unionization of Small-Business Owners Spreads to Other States

The forced unionization of home-based day care owners, which the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is fighting against in Michigan, is spreading to other states. … more

Questions Surround Film Subsidy Report

The second annual report from the Michigan Film Office shows that $69 million was transferred from Michigan taxpayers to movie makers in 2009, but is sketchy on further details, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus… more

Forced Unionization Draws More Attention

Another nationally syndicated columnist has written about the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation's fight to end the forced unionization of small business owners… more

Fixing Michigan's Roads

Everyone can agree that Michigan's roads are in need of repair. How to pay for it, however, is another issue. … more

New Poll Supports Center Research

According to the Michigan Information & Research Service's Capitol Capsule (subscription required), a new poll by EPIC/MRA shows 57 percent of voters favor a plan that would require government employees to pay 20 percent of the cost of their own health insurance premiums. … more

In Memory of Sarah Grether

Mackinac Center intern Sarah Grether, 21, died in a two-car accident in Midland County Friday night, according to the Midland Daily News.
You can read tributes from her colleagues at the Center here… more

Center Analyst Addresses Taxes, Spending

Proponents of a tax hike on Michigan residents are using the wrong numbers to support their argument, according to a recent Op-Ed by James Hohman, fiscal policy analyst, in The Dearborn Times-Herald.
Before raising taxes, however, policymakers should take a closer look at how they spend the billions of dollars they already take from Michigan's families and businesses. Hohman explains how in this Oakland Press Op-Ed. … more

And They Say They Need More Money

As this recent story in Michigan Education Report shows, school districts in Michigan are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for the escalating costs of teacher health insurance. … more

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