The late Joseph Overton was senior vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy at the time of his passing in 2003. Overton played a key role in establishing the Center as a growing, productive and influential think tank through his direction of its research projects, staff operations and strategic planning. He also authored a variety of Center studies and commentaries. His model of public policy change, posthumously named the "Overton Window," has gained national currency following his passing.

His tremendous contributions to the Mackinac Center and the free-market movement ended with his untimely death on June 30, 2003, in an ultralight airplane crash.

Overton had a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a juris doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He was a member of the State Bar of Michigan and was appointed by Gov. John Engler to the Michigan Appellate Defender Commission upon recommendation by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Before joining the Mackinac Center, Overton held a variety of positions at The Dow Chemical Company, including electrical engineer, project manager, and quality specialist.

Overton studied and promoted free-market principles for more than a decade. He also traveled broadly, visiting Poland, Nicaragua, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, India and the People's Republic of China.

Does Giving Government Unlimited Power Really Protect the Environment

The Michigan Legislature recently gave the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality carte blanche to impose staggering fines on property owners for alleged environmental violations. This is a terrible idea given the department's past abuses. … more

Westwood Letter

Dear Members of the Westwood Board of Education: It has come to our attention that your district is suing the state of Michigan to prevent parents and children from choosing schools outside your district. You are concerned that the schools-of-choice program that the Mackinac Center for Public Policy helped establish is leading to increased segregation in your district. … more

Targeted Corporate Incentives Do More Harm than Good

A Tax Credit Is Not a Voucher!

Opponents of school choice for Michigan's children are misrepresenting tuition tax credits in order to recycle their shopworn anti-voucher arguments. … more

School Reform: Giving Parents “Credit”

The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education

This pathbreaking approach to expanding parental choice in education embodies a proposal to amend the Michigan constitution and establish a Universal Tuition Tax Credit (UTTC). The tax credit would offset a portion of private or public school tuition and would be claimed against state tax liabilities. In addition to improving education, the UTTC would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Unlike other tax credit plans, the UTTC would help needy families with low state tax liabilities by encouraging the creation of corporate scholarships to offset tuition costs not covered by the UTTC. The per-student credit could be claimed against the Michigan tax liability of any person or corporation. Unlike vouchers, the UTTC would not allow state funds to support religious schools, would not drain funds from the public schools, and would not spawn new entitlements or overregulation of private schools. The study includes detailed fiscal models, a discussion of school choice, a history of Michigan's constitutional impediments to education reform, and proposed language for a constitutional amendment. 76 pages … more

Changing Michigan's Constitution: An Idea Whose Time has Come

Other states are racing past Michigan in improving education by giving parents freedom to choose schools. A Universal Tuition Tax Credit and constitutional amendment can keep Michigan from lagging behind. … more