What You Read Last Year: Our Top Stories of 2015
Union bullies, EPA overregulation, and right-to-work
Stories about hating political opponents, EPA overregulation, union bullying, and right-to-work income gains were among our top stories of the year.
Michigan Capitol Confidential had its best year yet, and here are the 15 most popular stories with readers in 2015.
- U-M Department Chair: ‘It’s Okay to Hate Republicans’
Professor Susan J. Douglas, the chair of the University of Michigan’s Department of Communication Studies, wrote an article that opened with “I hate Republicans.” The professor, who earns $178,786 from the public university, also had a photo of three GOP U.S. senators with the caption, “It’s okay to despise these men.” A university spokesman said they see this as a free-speech issue, but Douglas later apologized.
- Here Are the Highest Paying School Districts in Michigan
The average teacher salary varies across Michigan, but is still almost totally based on an educator’s seniority and degree-level. Four districts had teachers earning more than $80,000 per year in 2015: Redford Union ($86,675), Warren ($83,055), Walled Lake ($81,962) and Farmington ($80,264).
The federal Environmental Protection Agency commissioned a study that looks to reduce emissions from residential barbecues. The Michigan Senate passed a concurrent resolution expressing opposition to the action as well as drawing attention to it and other recent issues Michigan has had with the EPA.
A teacher making more than $87,000 and another earning over $80,000 were featured in a news article (written by a third teacher) complaining about compensation for educators and explaining why they need second jobs. The median household income in Michigan is about $50,000.
- Spring Forward, Fall Back? Bills Would End Daylight Saving in Michigan
A bipartisan pair of lawmakers submitted bills that would end Michigan’s 42-year experiment with daylight saving time. But some industries, like golf courses, aren’t a fan of the idea.
- Union: No Photo Needed to Vote, but Bring ID If You Want to Leave the Union
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) condemns laws that require people to have a photo identification to vote in elections, but requires a person to show up in person with a photo ID in order to leave the union. The central office where people are required to go is often many miles from where they live or work.
- Michigan’s May Tax Proposal
Proposal 1 of 2015 was a constitutional amendment and package of bills that would have raised $2 billion by hiking the sales tax, the gas tax, registration fees, and other changes. About $1.3 billion of that would have gone to transportation funding with the rest going to other areas of government. It was the largest ballot proposal failure in state history, losing 80 percent to 20 percent on May 5.
- Worker Bullied as UAW Publicizes His Opt-Out
UAW Local 600 publicized the names of members who used their ability under the state’s new right-to-work law to stop giving the union money. As a result, a tool and die worker said he now feels vulnerable, with some members writing “SCAB” on his locker.
- Low or High, Great Lakes Water Levels Always Blamed on Global Warming
When the water levels of the Great Lakes were low in years past, they were blamed on global warming and the Legislature even tried to ban the use of Michigan lakes for bottled water. Today, now that levels are high and rising, climate change is again being blamed.
- Proposal 1 Will Cost the Average Michigan Household Up to $525 a Year in Extra Taxes
The May ballot proposal would have put a substantial dent into the pocketbooks of the average Michigan family. It failed 80-20.
- Union Posts Names of Non-Members, Urges Shunning
Another union bullies employees who have exercised right-to-work, posting their names publicly and urging its members “not to share tools, knowledge or support with individuals who chose not to pay union dues.”
- Sheriff Lieutenant Caught on Video Saying Officers Disciplined for Not Writing Enough Tickets
Michigan state law prevents ticket quota systems for police departments, but a Newaygo County deputy was caught on tape telling county commissioners they were shooting for pulling over a certain number of people and disciplining officers who fell short.
- MEA President Inflating Public Pension With $200K Salary While Working for Private Union
Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook is using his union salary to spike his government pension by filtering his MEA salary through the Lansing school district. Cook should have a much lower pension based on his former paraprofessional salary when he was a school employee, but is in line for a pension of over $100,000 provided by taxpayers because of the scheme.
- Income Growth in Right-to-Work States Significantly Higher
When Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state, critics claimed it would lead to a collapse in wages. But since the law, the state has been among the leaders in income growth. In fact, over the past 25 years, 13 of the 20 states with the fastest income growth were right-to-work states.
- MEGA Fail: Progress Michigan Bashed Republican Governor for Democratic Governor’s Program
The liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan slammed Gov. Rick Snyder for corporate tax credits that caused a hole in the state budget. The problem? The MEGA tax credit program was ended by Snyder — the hole came because of corporate credits approved under the former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
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.