[Photo of Michael D. LaFaive]

Michael D. LaFaive

Senior Director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative

Michael LaFaive is the senior 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 has been interviewed more than 1,300 times by the media in the last ten years. He 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.

Mackinac Center Joins 87 Groups and Activists Calling for Federal Tax Reform

Time for a simple, efficient, sufficient and fair tax code … more

Post Labor Day Weekend Good Time for Tourism Talk

Lots to discuss with unofficial end of summer season … more

Give Foxconn Nothing

Lansing politicians should not make tools out of taxpayers … more

Lansing Politicians Betray Their Stated Ideals

Watch what they do, not what they say … more

Cigarette tax debate should include lawlessness

On Cigarette Tax Evasion, I Told You So

Raising cigarette taxes has consequences and not always good ones … more

‘But For’ Can’t Be Proved: Corporate Welfare is a Waste

New MEGA not costless, despite assurances … more

New Corporate Welfare Proposal is Unfair

'Good Jobs for Michigan' a repeat of failed MEGA program … more

In Remembrance on Independence Day: William T. Wilson, Ph.D.

Economist once paid steep price for intellectual honesty … more

Return of the Mega Subsidy

Corporate welfare still demonstrably ineffective … more

The Model Facade: Selling Jobs to the Public, Press and Policymakers

History shows models are used to obscure costly, ineffective programs … more

MEGA 2 Hearing Demonstrates Desperation

New corporate welfare proposal gets hard sell in tax committee … more

A Plea for Fairness, Transparency and Intellectual Honesty

Testimony prepared for the Michigan Travel Commission … more

Do Millionaires Need More Subsidies?

MEGA 2.0 bound for failure … more

Why Government Fails at Economic Development

Politicians and bureaucrats repeatedly fail at picking the winners … more

Incentive Programs Fail: Evidence is All Too Clear

Center Scholar Speaks to Tax Group in Florida … more

Evidence? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Evidence, Imply Tourism Officials

Tourism officials make claims they can’t support … more

Back to the MEGA Future: Good Jobs for Michigan Reinvents Failed MEGA Program

Proposed law shares remarkable similarities with old, failed law … more

Dear House Tax Committee: Pure Michigan Return on Investment Not Validated

State Rep. Jim Tedder asks the right question … more

What’s Old is New Again: Another Subsidy Program Being Considered by Legislature

Good for politicians and well-connected businesses, bad for Michigan … more

Secretive Bidder Wins Pure Michigan Contract Over Transparent One

Auditor General, not MEDC, should hire reviews of corporate welfare programs … more

An Empire of Smuggled Smokes

New York's cigarette taxes have sparked a huge black market and should be rolled back … more

One State May Do Away With Taxpayer-Funded Tourism Promotion

Why ending Florida’s “Pure Michigan” counterpart would benefit residents and visitors … more

Cigarette Taxes and Smuggling

An update through 2015 … more

Studies of Government-funded Tourism Promotion Withstand Criticism

Publicly-funded marketing for tourism is a waste of money … more

People First or Well Connected Developers?

We should provide tax relief for all instead of favors to a select few … more

The Cost of High Cigarette Taxes

Research reveals unintended consequences of tax … more

Legislators Who Promote Transparency Should Start by Disclosing Corporate Welfare Deals

MEDC secrecy patronizes lawmakers and public … more

Michigan Wins When Immigrants Face a Fair and Predictable System

Due process is an important part of an immigration system … more

Detroit’s Soccer Stadium Should Stand on its Own

Stadiums are a bad investment for taxpayers … more

Indiana Could See Cigarette Smuggling Leap with Excise Tax Increase

Michigan may benefit from Hoosier hike … more

Happy 50th Birthday Personal Income Tax

Now go away … more

Michigan Stagnates on Economic Freedom Index

After big recent gains, this state stuck in neutral … more

Tourism Promotion Study Criticism Absurd, Ironic

MEDC criticism falls flat; still hiding behind secretive study … more

High Taxes on Cigarettes Increase Smuggling

New study looks at national rates … more

Michigan House Rejects Cronyism Bills

‘TIF on steroids’ legislation dead for now … more

Bad Santa: Trump Risks Cronyist Blowout with Carrier Incentives

Draining the swamp by creating new ones … more

Mackinac Scholars Challenge Tourism Officials to Debate

Letter sent to key proponents of Pure Michigan campaign … more

Pistons Move to Downtown Comes With Big Taxpayer Price Tag

Mackinac Center experts comment on the deal in state media … more

Study: New Sports Facilities Do Not Increase New Business Openings

Research discredits idea for ‘catalyst’ or ‘transformational’ developments … more

After Election Season, Economic Liberty Please

Lesson from a state-by-state study: Liberty promotes prosperity … more

State Not Transparent with Effectiveness of Multi-Million-Dollar Program

New Pure Michigan study questions advertising expenditure … more

Recommended Reading: A New Look at “The Bet”

Human well-being has increased dramatically over the last few decades … more

Tax Hike Vote in Kent County Expensive, Unnecessary

Unfair to force taxpayers to subsidize the recreation of others … more

The State Claims ‘Pure Michigan’ is Worth Tens of Millions. It Isn’t.

Other research does not validate MEDC’s secretive, no-bid contractor … more

Pure Michigan’s ‘Budget Justification’

Why an independent review is necessary … more

Tilt from Tax Cutting to Corporate Welfare Renews Failed Approach to Economic Growth

Lawmakers face a number of corporate welfare proposals … more

Closest Thing to Immortality? Government Programs

Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps has survived multiple defundings … more

This Week in Fiscal Policy News

Tax reform proposals and state pension underfunding … more

Proposed Beer Tax Hike Would Hurt Brewers

LaFaive comments in MLive article … more