Lansing’s friends-and-family plan will hasten exodus from Michigan

A Michigan run for the few will continue to lose people. Both young and old people flee the state

Stop me if you’ve heard it before: Michigan is shrinking. Decaying. Dying, even.

We got more bad news last week from the U.S. Census Bureau. Michigan’s population fell by 3,000 people between 2021 and 2022. For the second straight year, Michigan had more deaths than births. About 18% of Michigan is 65 or older.

If it were just retirees who left, that would take money from the state, but there would be a future. But Michigan loses population on both ends.

It loses college graduates looking for opportunity. It loses young families looking for good schools. It loses middle-aged people who’ve seen their careers ship out to Mexico or China. And it loses old people who want to live near their grandkids.

With so many factors stacked against Michigan, it was odd this week to see the state’s highest officers do their damndest to deny 7 million people a tax cut.

The Detroit News reports that Dana Nessel’s attorney general opinion, which found that the 2015 tax cut is an annual, not a perennial, was requested only a day prior by Treasurer Rachel Eubanks.

When it was time to cancel a tax cut, Nessel moved at Jimmy John’s speed. It’s good the request wasn’t made on Columbus Day. What government employee would be at work to make it?

Though an attorney general’s opinion is not binding on courts, executive branch agencies, such as the state treasury, use it for guidance.

Lansing Democrats have been dead-set against the tax cut.

First Whitmer tried to replace the permanent tax cut with a one-time $180 check.

When that failed, as Senate Republicans denied the bill the two-thirds support needed for immediate effect, Democrats settled on a new strategy: Have Nessel kill the tax cut.

AG opinions are written in response to questions from state officials. Eubanks’ question opened the door for Nessel’s answer.

And so a tax cut whose architects intended it to be permanent — who repeated it loudly after Nessel’s opinion was published — will run for one year only, absent a successful legal intervention. The Michigan courts, too, arepacked with Democrats.

The Democrats’ united front against the tax cut makes sense when you read House Bill 4235, which would make union dues tax refundable.

Read it for yourself: House Bill 4235 of 2023

Related reading: Two Michigan House bills shower favors on unions

The Mackinac Center’s Steve Delie and Michael LaFaive explained what’s at stake in House Bill 4235 in a Detroit News op-ed.

This proposal means taxpayers, not union members, will be paying 100% of union dues ― and the dues themselves will most likely increase once the bill is enacted. Union members get a full dollar’s worth of refundable credits for every dollar they spend on union dues. Union dues would cease to be a financial obligation of the union’s members and instead would become a Michigan taxpayer obligation.

Michigan is shrinking, decaying, and dying. But while there are still taxpayers to be found, they’ll be asked to pay their neighbors’ union dues.What’s the plan here?

There will need to be taxpayers to fund all these giveaways. Lansing Democrats have made that clear.

What they don’t get is that a Michigan for the few will drive away the many.

What they don’t get is that a Michigan for the few is why the economy struggles. Michigan masks a poor business climate with selective giveaways and job announcements that give the impression the state is thriving.

On current course, Michigan will fail for the same reason Detroit did: a friends-and-family plan that costs too much and benefits too few.

Is this what you signed up for? Or is this why your neighbors left?

James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email him 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.