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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a free market, non-partisan educational institute workings towards a freer and fairer government. Our main focuses are in the following policy areas: Fiscal, Education, Energy and Environment, Labor, and Criminal Justice. Learn more at www.mackinac.org/issues

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Overspending, Pensions Push Michigan’s No. 2 School District To Fiscal Edge

The second largest school district in Michigan is “on the path to financial disaster” and could become a candidate for a state takeover. It's budget is strained under crushing pension costs. … more

School Choice Breaks Down Racial Barriers

Opponents of school choice seem to be working overtime to discredit programs that give students in tough circumstances a better chance to succeed. These critics would be well-advised to ensure their own house is in order first. … more

Agencies Have Until Whenever To Fulfill Open Records Law Requests

The state's Freedom of Information Act does not impose a time limit on public agencies once they make an initial response, the Michigan attorney general said in an opinion. … more

The Problems with the Pension and Retiree Health Insurance Bills

Legislation that creates funding requirements for local government pensions and retiree health insurance benefits recently passed both Michigan chambers. … more

Township Officials: Cronyism Rife On Lucrative Wind Project Deals

The Michigan House Energy Committee heard testimony this week from a group of current and former township officials supporting a bill proposing four years in prison for township officials who vote on a zoning change from which they or their family will profit financially. … more

Virtual Justice: Using New Technology in the Criminal Justice System

Many advocates of criminal justice reform describe their ideas as ones that would modernize the justice system, or bring it into the 21st century. Nowhere is that description more apt than when considering how to use computers to accomplish things that would normally be done by people.  … more

The ‘50 Students Per Classroom’ Myth: Detroit Class Sizes Are Normal

The average class size at Detroit's public school district this school year is 21.59 students. The median class size is a bit higher at 24 students per classroom. … more

Detroit School District Still Needs Teachers

Detroit’s public school district reports that it has 171 vacant teaching positions. … more

Productive Skills, Not College Degrees, Key to Economic Prosperity

From the 16th to the 18th century, the dominant economic theory in Western Europe was mercantilism. Its basic idea was that worldwide wealth was static and for a country to grow rich, it needed to control as much of this wealth as possible. … more

Unions Complicit in Retirement Benefit Crisis

Public sector union members protested at the state capitol this week because lawmakers are considering reforms to post-employment health insurance benefits promised by local governments to their employees. Union officials loudly proclaim that these benefits should not be cut, and it’s not clear that the recently introduced package would cut them. … more

Michigan law authorizes jails to charge inmates up to $60 per night for the costs of housing them. Many misdemeanors carry a maximum incarceration penalty of 93 days. As a result, inmates could be released into the community owing as much as $5,580 to the county for housing – in addition to any criminal fines, legal fees, or restitution ordered by the judge.

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For the Record

National education writer and frequent critic of charter schools Diane Ravitch wrote in a Detroit News op-ed that she blames free-market reforms and charter schools for the problems in Detroit’s public school system. … more
Midland Fire Chief Chris Coughlin said the city has been very responsible in funding pension liabilities. He may want to recheck the math on that. … more
Alan Singer is an education professor at Hofstra University in New York, and as a contributor to the Huffington Post, he has written numerous posts attacking public charter schools. … more
The Detroit public school district board cites accountability in its packet. Yet, its worst schools stay open with reprieves from the Michigan Department of Education. … more
The state's largest teachers' union is saying few young people want to go into teaching. But that didn't stop 440 people from applying for teaching positions last year at Kalamazoo Public Schools. … more
Patricia Poppe, president and CEO of CMS Energy, said the last thing she wants is somebody to say their electric prices are too high. Consumers Energy has the highest residential prices in the five-state region. … more
A claim by the state police that police abuse of civil asset forfeiture is rare deserves some scrutiny. … more
The Michigan Health and Hospital Association recently released two video advertisements aimed at drivers, encouraging them to contact their state representatives to oppose an auto insurance reform bill currently pushed by House leaders and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. … more
A progressive advocacy group is fighting to maintain a tax write-off which overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy. … more
The worst urban public school district in the country doesn't like competition. … more