News Story

The Price Tag on the Ballot Proposals

Constitutional changes would cost billions to Michigan taxpayers, citizens

While the primary reasons to judge many of the proposals extend beyond dollars and cents (for instance, whether it’s right to force people to contribute to a union, as Proposal 4 requires) there also are major fiscal consequences to the proposals.

Next to each of the proposals there should be a sticker showing the price to taxpayers and governments of each vote.

If there were, it might look like this:

Proposal 1. Voting “no” on Proposal 1 would eliminate the ability of an emergency manager to amend collective bargaining agreements. This power has already saved Michigan governments facing fiscal emergencies $100 million.

Proposal 2. Voting “yes” on Proposal 2 would give government unions the power to supersede state law. This would veto recent laws and reverse recent privatization trends. At a minimum, taxpayers would be giving up $1.6 billion annually if this passes.

Proposal 3. Voting “yes” on Proposal 3 would require the state to build less efficient and less reliable renewable energy facilities. While supporters argue that this will create jobs, the opposition argues that this will cost ratepayers $12 billion. A look at the net economic effects shows that residents will lose $2.55 billion in disposable personal income in 2025, when the proposal is fully implemented.

Proposal 4. Voting “yes” on Proposal 4 would constitutionalize the SEIU dues skim, costing home-based caregivers $6 million annually.

Proposal 5 and Proposal 6 have uncertain price tags. As Michael LaFaive explains in his literature review, supermajority tax voting requirements like Proposal 5 have generally lowered taxes and spending in states that have adopted them. But the immediate impact of Proposal 5 is likely to be negligible and the long-term effect will depend on how future state legislators address the rule.

Proposal 6, which would require voter approval for a new bridge or tunnel from Michigan to Canada, may or may not cost taxpayers any money. It would complicate an already-complex infrastructure project. The project may cost taxpayers or may influence toll rates for people trying to traveling between Windsor and Detroit.

There are more issues to consider when deciding how to vote on the Michigan ballot proposals, but the price tag is an important consideration.

See more information on these proposals at

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.