Studies

Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in Michigan Department of Transportation v. Tomkins

On November 16, 2007, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy filed a brief of amicus curiae with the Michigan Supreme Court in the case of Michigan Department of Transportation v Tomkins. The legal dispute involves the amount of compensation a property owner should receive from state government when the state uses eminent domain to take part of the owner’s property. Specifically, the Michigan Supreme Court asked whether a state law that limits the property owner’s compensation to so-called "special-effect" damages violates the common understanding of the "just compensation" guaranteed in eminent domain cases by the Michigan Constitution. … more

The Opportunities and Limitations of Biomonitoring

Remarkable advances in analytical chemistry now make it possible to measure minute levels of both natural and synthetic compounds in human tissue and body fluids. This “biomonitoring” allows researchers to determine more precisely than ever the degree to which individuals have been exposed to specific chemicals in the environment, and how exposures change over time. Consequently, federal and state officials increasingly regard biomonitoring as a potential new underpinning of environmental and public health regulations. … more

Choice Leadership

Popular literature is full of praises for “the common man,” but as these two essays by Ben Stafford illustrate, it’s usually the uncommon men and women who make big things happen. Virginia Walden Ford and Alberta C. Wilson are too modest and focused on others to tell you themselves, but Ben makes it clear that many inner-city children and parents have benefited from the uncommonness of these two women. They are courageous, forward-thinking, can-do citizens. They understand the value of a good education and a strong character, and they have been willing to stand up for those values at no small expense to themselves. … more

Replacing Michigan’s New Taxes With Budget Reductions: Curing $1.358 Billion in Overspending With 55 Specific Recommendations

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has regularly recommended specific state spending reductions to balance the state’s budget and improve Michigan’s public policy. The following list shows how the state could reduce spending immediately to help balance the state budget if policymakers chose to forgo the projected $1.358 billion in fiscal 2008 revenue from the recent state income tax hike and the new sales tax on certain services. … more

The Edmonton Public Schools Story

Internationally Renowned Superintendent Angus McBeath Chronicles His District’s Successes and Failures

Faced with budget battles, declining enrollments and tense contract negotiations, Michigan school leaders could seize upon the advice of a superintendent and educator who has faced the very same issues for 30 years and who now consults with school districts. … more

A Model Right-to-Work Amendment to the Michigan Constitution

This policy brief discusses several foundational legal concepts and sets forth model language for a legally sound right-to-work amendment to the Michigan Constitution. … more

The Economic Effects of Right-to-Work Laws: 2007

Many states have given workers complete discretion to decline membership in, and financial support of, a union that they individually oppose. Enacting a right-to-work law abolishes agency fees and allows workers themselves to decide if a union deserves their financial support. … more

The Effects of Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Law

Michigan’s prevailing wage law adds unnecessary costs to construction projects at taxpayers’ expense. … more

Survey 2007: More Growth in School Support Service Privatization

Privatization is a time-tested management tool used by governments around the world. It can take many forms, but competitive contracting is the most prevalent in the United States whether in municipalities or within the realm of public education. In some regards, Michigan is a national leader in competitive contracting in education; in other areas it is a laggard. … more

Michigan Higher Education: Facts and Fiction

The observed shrinkage in state appropriations over the first half of the decade was actually a positive development: one that dampened, albeit modestly, the real relative economic decline of the state. Moreover, it calls into question a growth strategy based on expansion of higher education. Indeed, other results included in the econometric estimation suggest that a better growth strategy would be to put the entire Michigan state government on a diet in order to finance a reduction in the overall tax burden. While higher education expenditures are not growth-inducing, the evidence shows that tax reductions are.
NOT AVAILABLE IN PRINT … more

Road Funding: Time for a Change

A Collective Bargaining Primer

For Michigan School Board Members

Collective bargaining determines not only the quality and responsiveness of a school district’s teachers and support personnel, but the amount of money remaining to school board members to benefit the children under their care. Thus, while labor negotiations may sometimes feel remote from the process of helping children learn in the classroom, the results of this bargaining often affect a school board’s ability to implement educational policies.

This book is designed to assist school board members in understanding the basic principles and laws of collective bargaining, including some of the major substantive and procedural challenges facing Michigan school boards. In addition, the text is full of quotations from school board members and other education professionals concerning their experiences with collective bargaining and school employee unions. The combination of informational content and personal reflections provides new insights to school board members — and to policymakers, journalists and the general public, as well. … more

Assessing Stricter Mercury Controls in Michigan

On April 17, 2006, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm directed the Department of Environmental Quality to draft a rule under the state’s Clean Air Act to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 90 percent. The governor ordered the reductions to occur in two phases. The first phase is supposed to entail the reduction schedule established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year. The second phase is supposed to exceed the federal requirements by reducing emissions 90 percent by the year 2015. … more

Proposal 4: A Legal Review and Analysis

Proposal 4 of 2006, which will appear on the November ballot, is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would alter state law regarding eminent domain, the legal theory that permits the government to take private property for public use if the government pays just compensation. … more

School Choice Snapshot: A 2006 Survey of U.S. Policy and Advocacy Organizations

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy worked on this survey project from November 2005 through September 2006. We provided assistance to the survey researcher, Adam B. Schaeffer, who was then a National Research Initiative Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., by collaborating on the survey instrument, offering relevant and limited information from our database, handling technical details of inviting and following up with participants, and editing and publishing this document. … more

The Stop Overspending Michigan Initiative: A Review and Analysis

The proposed “Stop Overspending” state constitutional amendment, which failed to gain ballot status in the November 2006 election, addressed four major areas ... … more

Assessing the Case for Cable Franchise Reform

Advances in technology now make it possible for both cable firms and telecommunications companies to provide voice, data and video services to most homes and businesses. This constitutes a dramatic change from the days of cable dominance in the video market, and that of the “Baby Bells” in telephone service. What hasn’t changed, however, is the franchise regime that has long limited access to the local market and thus inhibited competition. In this paper, Diane S. Katz examines the effects of this obsolete regulation on consumers and the economy, as well as the myriad benefits of reform. … more

An Analysis of Proposal 5: The ‘K-16’ Michigan Ballot Measure

On Nov. 7, 2006, Michigan voters will be asked to consider a proposed new law that would, if passed, require annual state spending to increase at no less than the inflation rate for the following state budget areas: public school districts and charter schools; certain specific budget items in state spending on public school districts and charter schools; and state universities and community colleges. The proposal also contains new requirements for state payments to districts with declining enrollment and places liability for school employee pension cost increases on state government, rather than school districts. The proposed new law will appear as “Proposal 5”on the ballot, and its mandates would take effect in the 2006-2007 school year. … more

Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in Attorney General v. Michigan Public Service Commission

A Mackinac Center “friend of the court” filing to the Michigan Supreme Court in a case involving the Michigan Public Service Commission’s renewable-energy surcharge on electrical bills. … more

Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in DPG York v. Michigan

A Mackinac Center “friend of the court” filing to the Michigan Court of Appeals in a case involving the preferential sale of state land. … more

Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

A Mackinac Center “friend of the court” filing to the U.S. Supreme Court in two cases involving federal wetlands regulation of Michigan properties. … more

Groundwater Regulation: An Assessment

In proposing the Water Legacy Act, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is attempting to increase state regulation of groundwater use through a costly and intrusive permit regime. If enacted, this drastic change would upend longstanding water rights and further weaken Michigan’s economy. … more

MEGA: A Retrospective Assessment

April 18, 2005 marks the 10th anniversary of The Michigan Economic Growth Authority, a program established by Michigan government with the mission of spurring in-state job creation and business investment. The authority is the state of Michigan’s agent for selecting firms to receive Single Business Tax credits in return for creating new facilities and jobs in Michigan. … more

Outsourcing Benefits Michigan Economy and Taxpayers

Lawmakers in Congress and in more than 30 state legislatures have targeted foreign outsourcing as a threat to U.S. employment and prosperity. Along with certain critics in the news media, such as CNN’s Lou Dobbs, they charge that U.S. companies are firing American workers in significant numbers and replacing them with foreign service workers in low-wage countries such as India. Legislative proposals in Michigan and elsewhere have focused on barring federal or state contracts with companies that would “offshore” the work to call centers or information technology providers abroad. … more

Union Members' Attitudes Toward Their Unions' Performance

Zogby International and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy undertook a nationwide survey of union members to determine their views of their unions’ performance. We asked union members about union effectiveness, union responsibilities, union political spending, ways for workers to create a union and how unions should treat workers. … more

A Telecommunications Policy Primer

20 Comprehensive Answers to 20 Basic Questions

A guide to understanding telecommunications law and regulation in Michigan and the United States. … more

Assessing Electric Choice in Michigan

Ending the regional monopoly structure in the generation of electricity was intended to provide customers with lower rates and improved service quality, while also increasing generating capacity for electricity in the state. But attempts are underway to reverse the course of this restructuring. … more

Recommendations to Strengthen Civil Society and Balance Michigan’s State Budget — 2nd Edition

An Analysis of Fiscal-Year 2003-04 Appropriations and Recommendations for 2004-05. … more

Forging Consensus

Can the School Choice Community Come Together on an Explicit Goal and a Plan for Achieving It? … more

Crossed Lines: Regulatory Missteps in Telecom Policy

An analysis of forced access in Michigan

Violation of property rights is the defining feature of current telecom policy. … more

Recommendations to Strengthen Civil Society and Balance Michigan's State Budget

An Analysis of Fiscal-Year 2002-03 Appropriations and Recommendations for 2003-04

If Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Legislature need specifics on how to close Michigan’s looming $1.7 billion budget deficit, they need look no further than the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s new report on balancing the state budget, released today.

More than 200 specific recommendations from Mackinac Center analysts total more than $2 billion in cost savings and revenue enhancements. All budget reductions, including those involving federal funds, total $3.7 billion. 157 pages. … more

Proposed Budget Reductions for the Michigan Department of Agriculture

Gov. Granholm and the Michigan Legislature can save $34 million in the state agriculture budget, and sell state land for another $59 million. … more

The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts

An Assessment of What Michigan Public School Districts Can Do to Save Money Without Laying Off Teachers or Other Essential Staff … more

The Clean Michigan Initiative: An Assessment

An Examination of the Goals, Results and Fiscal Consequences of Michigan's Most Ambitious Environmental Bond Program … more

Proposal 3: Establishing a Constitutional Requirement Extending Mandatory Collective Bargaining and Binding Arbitration to State Government Employees

On Nov. 5, 2002, Michigan voters will consider Proposal 02-03 ("Proposal 3"), an amendment to the state constitution that, if passed, would fundamentally alter the relationship between the State of Michigan and its employees. … more

The Effect of Right-to-Work Laws on Economic Development

The right to decide for yourself whether or not to support a union in your workplace: union officials dismiss it as "the right to starve", but for the last thirty years Right-to-Work states have been outperforming compuslory unionism states such as Michigan. This report demonstrates how individual freedom and higher productivity give workers in Right-to-Work states the edge in job opportunities, employment, and purchasing power. … more

Keeping Michigan on Track:

A Blueprint for a Freer, More Prosperous State

New legislative opportunities will come with the fall elections for the Michigan House, Senate, and governorship. Read the Mackinac Center's policy recommendations for the next Legislature and governor below. … more

The Michigan Union Accountability Act:

A Step Toward Accountability and Democracy in Labor Organizations

Unions in Michigan represent over 900,000 workers and take in more than $250 million in membership dues annually. But in spite of their expansive wealth and political power, requirements that unions disclose their financial dealings are minimal. Reform of the federal reporting system, which governs private-sector unions, is needed but unlikely in the current political climate. Michigan can take the lead by passing its own Union Accountability Act, requiring annual financial disclosure reports and independent audits of public-sector union affiliates active in the Great Lakes State. … more
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The Case for Choice in Schooling:

Restoring Parental Control of Education

After 40 years of struggle, school choice is now at the center of the debate over school reform in America, and it is of primary importance that the public understand the facts-and avoid the myths-surrounding this issue. This three-part primer is designed to educate and inform citizens about all aspects of school choice and equip them to participate in the debate as fully informed members of their communities. The report contains a historical overview of tax-funded schooling, demonstrates the failure of many popular reforms of the past and present, explains the various types of school choice, identifies the barriers to education reform, dispels myths surrounding school choice, and outlines strategic plans parents and other concerned citizens can follow to advance the cause of greater school choice. … more

The Cost of Remedial Education

More than a third of Michigan students leave high school without possessing basic academic skills including reading, writing, and arithmetic. This forces employers and post-secondary schools to take up the slack. This study conservatively estimates that Michigan businesses and institutions of higher education spend over $600 million annually to teach employees and students skills they should have learned in high school. The comparable national figure is $16.6 billion, but the human costs of K-12 educational failure are incalculable, according to experts' essays included in the study's appendices. … more

The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts

Case studies of how school districts in Michigan's largest county are responding to competition from charter schools and public "schools-of-choice" … more

Religious Liberty and Compulsory Unionism: A Worker's Guide to Using Union Dues for Charity

Many employees in unionized workplaces do not know that if they harbor religious objections to joining, financing, or otherwise associating with labor unions, they have legal recourse if their union or employer or both violate those rights. This report explains the statutes and developing case law that protect religious employees' freedom of conscience in the workplace by allowing them to refrain from union membership and divert their compulsory dues to a charity of their choice. … more

Environmental Quality 2000: Michigan and America at the 30th Anniversary of Earth Day

Public opinion about the environment is often marked by unwarranted pessimism about the state of our air, water, and natural resources. But the most recent government data show that America in general, and Michigan in particular, have seen impressive gains in environmental quality since the first Earth Day 30 years ago. This report presents decades of facts and figures on Michigan and U.S. air and water quality, land use, and other environmental factors to show that, far from worsening, environmental conditions have actually improved substantially-and are likely to continue improving. … more

Internet Purchases: To Tax or Not to Tax, Here Are the Questions

Has the growth of tax-free Internet sales hurt state revenues or education funding? Is it "unfair" for sales over the Internet not to be taxed while other sales are taxed? Would imposing new taxes on the Internet do serious damage to the ability of this new form of commerce to thrive? Does the growth of tax-free online shopping pose a threat to traditional "bricks-and-mortar" retailers? This study addresses these and other questions in order to provide state, local, and federal policy-makers with the intellectual and empirical ammunition they need to keep the taxman at bay. … more

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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is committed to delivering the highest quality and most reliable research on Michigan issues. The Center guarantees that all original factual data are true and correct and that information attributed to other sources is accurately represented.

The Center encourages rigorous critique of its research. If the accuracy of any material fact or reference to an independent source is questioned and brought to the Center’s attention with supporting evidence, the Center will respond in writing. If an error exists, it will be noted in a correction that will accompany all subsequent distribution of the publication. This constitutes the complete and final remedy under this guarantee.