A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Oakland – the County That Could (Reform Its Pensions)

The path to sustainable retirement plans

In contrast to the majority of Michigan counties that promise more retirement benefits than their revenues can cover, Oakland County is nearly 100 percent funded according to its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. … more

Local School District Escapes 'At Risk' List Despite Hostile Charter Takeover

Livonia Public Schools works to hide information; will gain hundreds of thousands of dollars

A parent of the besieged Hinoki International School is wondering why the state overlooked Livonia Public Schools when it was compiling its list of charter authorizers that are “at risk” for opening future schools. … more

State School Rankings Mostly Measuring Race and Income Rather Than Performance

Top-to-Bottom ratings rely heavily on student economic background

Nearly four out of five students in the bottom 5-percent of schools in the Michigan Department of Education’s Top-To-Bottom Ratings for 2013-14 were eligible for the free lunch program. Only about 11 percent of the students in the top 5-percent of schools in those rankings were eligible for the free lunch program. … more

State Budget Savings Idea: Eliminate Revenue Sharing

Arguably no one in Michigan has made more recommendations to reform the state budget — literally hundreds of them worth billions of dollars — than Mackinac Center policy analysts. … more

Global Warming Alarmists Switch Complaints From Water Levels to Rainfall

Previous concerns about Great Lakes didn't come to be

In recent years global warming adherents were citing low water levels on the Great Lakes as evidence of global warming. Now that Great Lakes levels are no longer low, they are seizing on the recent wet weather in Southeast Michigan to advance their arguments. … more

Supreme Court Ends ‘Dues Skim’ Nationwide

On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled that thousands of home-based caregivers in Illinois — and perhaps hundreds of thousands in eight other states — are not required to pay union dues as a condition of employment. … more

Teachers Find Union Alternatives

Liability insurance, legal protection, professional resources all available at a fraction of the union cost

“The new climate in Michigan is proof that when teachers have the right to choose, many decide to flee the unions in favor of professional associations that provide similar benefits, at a fraction of the cost,” said AAE spokesperson Alexandra Freeze.  … more

Teachers’ Window of Opportunity Is Now Open

For teachers represented by the Michigan Education Association, freedom comes just once per year — in August. That’s because the MEA says August is the only month in which they will allow teachers to choose whether to pay union dues. … more

State Education Department Gives a Pass To Failing Districts; Punishes Charters

Two high schools have been on the state's poor academics watch list for five consecutive years

Audrey Spalding, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said under state law, the MDE can close a school that has been ranked among the bottom 5 percent of Michigan schools. “The department has yet to do so,” Spalding said. “It looks like state officials are giving failing conventional schools a pass while cracking down on charter schools.” … more

Texas Looks to Decrease Occupational Licensing

Michigan should follow suit, remove more barriers to work

Of all the proposals designed to help poor and lower-income people, this one deserves major kudos. It does not involve expansion of a massive government program, and it reduces the cost to those who wish to profit from their knowledge and skills. It will also boost economic growth and tax revenue, since studies indicate that such licensing reduces job growth by 20 percent. … more

Incumbents Outspent Challengers 5-to-1 In Competitive Primary Races

Overall, the nine incumbents outspent their rivals $662,107 to $121,978 during the election cycle and $359,534 to $120,754 in the final reporting period leading up to the Aug. 5 vote. … more

State Superintendent Goes too Far on Charter Schools

State TTB ranking a proxy for poverty

The charter school authorizers Flanagan is threatening to stall include some of Michigan's best. Indeed, just a year ago, MDE recognized Grand Valley State University and Lake Superior State University as the best charter school authorizers in the state. … more

War on Charters Tied To Politics and Union Money

Charter schools enrolled about 141,000 students in 2013. Given an average school funding “foundation allowance” of around $7,250 per student, that represents slightly more than $1 billion diverted from the conventional school districts and unions which compete for students. … more

Pension Systems Hurt Workers, Taxpayers

Defined-benefit plans cannot be supported

Having an open defined-benefit pension system is telling politicians that they can be trusted to not spend money now on constituents in order to put away for the needs of people decades off into the future. But that goes against strong political incentives, which helps explain why most pension plans rack up unfunded liabilities.  … more

Why Do Michigan Citizens Falsely Believe Education Spending Is Down?

'If you repeat a lie long enough, people begin to believe it'

In three of her last four budgets, then Governor Jennifer Granholm cut state funding to K-12 schools. In Gov. Rick Snyder first four budgets, he has increased state funding to K-12 schools, up to a record $12 billion in 2014-15, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. … more

Job Announcements Don't Equal Job Creation

The campaign season has been filled with claims from candidates that they will create jobs. A common strategy is to target a business or an industry for special state support and to claim credit whenever jobs are added by companies receiving support. A quick look at the job creation and loss figures for the economy as a whole shows that this approach is not a workable one. … more

Union Sends Out Misleading 'Consent Form' When Members Try To Leave

Attorney: 'These scare tactics are...more what you would expect from telemarketers'

“We’ve seen tactics like this in other states,” said Alexandra Freeze, spokeswoman for the Association of American Educators. “MEA union bosses are clearly trying to instill fear into teachers in an effort to keep members in the fold. Misleading opt-out requirements are just the tip of the iceberg.” … more

Regulatory Regime Tries to Put the Brakes on Competition

Have you ever given a friend, co-worker or babysitter a ride in your car? You could be a criminal. … more

University Employees Break From MEA For Better Service At Lower Cost

Local Union Prez: 'We have fewer members exercising RTW than we had fee payers with the MEA'

ALLENDALE — Support staff and technical workers at Grand Valley State University are negotiating their first contract since decertifying from the Michigan Education Association in January. … more

MichiganVotes Weekly Vote Report

While the Legislature is on a summer break the Roll Call Report is reviewing key votes of the 2013-2014 session. … more

The Michigan Education Association says members may leave only in the month of August. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has set up www.AugustOptOut.org to help inform MEA members of their rights.


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