Director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative
Michael LaFaive is director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, where he has worked since 1995.
He is the author or co-author of hundreds of essays, commentaries and blog posts and 12 studies on fiscal policy topics as varied as local and state privatization efforts, corporate welfare, school finance, state budgeting and cigarette taxes.
Among his studies is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s largest, a nearly 200-page state budget analysis that recommended more than 200 ideas for trimming some $2 billion from the state budget without cutting Medicaid or School Aid funding. Many ideas first presented by LaFaive in 2003 have been adopted or adapted by lawmakers in Lansing.
He is also the originator of the Center’s annual school privatization survey, which routinely garners a 100 percent response rates from districts. There is no database of competitive contracting like it in the United States. In addition to this product, LaFaive authored in 2001 a 26-page, full-color edition of Michigan Privatization Report specifically dedicated to fixing Detroit. The ideas in that publication are more relevant today than when it was published.
LaFaive is perhaps best known, however, for his cutting-edge, scholarly work examining state “economic development” programs. His studies and frequent commentaries on this topic have garnered him a national, if not international reputation as a respected government development critic and were probably influential in the decision to kill the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, the state’s high-profile corporate welfare program.
LaFaive is typically interviewed more than 125 times a year by members of the press seeking comment on fiscal issues and remains a popular public speaker.
He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics from Central Michigan University.
LaFaive is married and resides in Midland, MI.
By Michael D. LaFaive
That conclusion doesn't bode well for Michigan, which is known for having a relatively hostile labor climate and which over the last 10 years has seen its overall national economic freedom ranking tumble. … more
The Auditor General's examination focused on reviews conducted by the agency that oversees MEGA. In other words, this was a review conducted to determine whether or not MEGA companies granted selective tax breaks have used proper "job count and salary information." … more
Both studies found that the program had no impact on overall job creation in the state. Another study found that Michigan would have been better off economically if the state had just cut taxes for all businesses instead of operating a targeted tax break program. … more
There is so much money sloshing around economic development programs around the nation — up to $50 billion or so as late as 2004 — that it would be surprising if there were not many questionable deals brokered by similar agencies across the nation. … more
Had the program managers performed even a cursory background check, they certainly would have discovered Short's past. … more
This net tax hike would ensure the health of state government at the expense of families and business owners. … more
Mackinac Center analysts have reviewed each State of the State speech dating back to 1969 and tallied the number of proposed expansions and limitations of government that each governor has offered. The "scorecard" of proposals below provides some insight into each administration's desire to see government solve perceived public policy problems.
These counts are not an exact science, but determining whether a proposal expands or limits state government is usually not too difficult.
Below is a set of historical averages covering the administrations of Governors William Milliken, James Blanchard, John Engler and Jennifer Granholm. … more
In December 2008 we published a study "Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling: A Statistical Analysis and Historical Review." The study reviewed the efforts of states trying to fight the growth of smuggling, documented the history of cigarette taxes in Michigan, New Jersey and California, and modeled the level of illicit tobacco use in states due to cigarette tax rates. We recently updated the model to include changes to the Federal Excise Tax, as well.
The 2008 study already found that Washington has the fourth highest smuggling rate. In applying the model to the proposed tax increases, we found that a $1.00 per pack increase in taxes would jump the state's smuggling rates from 39.3 percent to 51.5 percent. … more
Consider Senate Bill 323, sponsored by state Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy. … more