[Photo of Michael D. LaFaive]

Michael D. LaFaive

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 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.

A Michigan School Money Primer

MEGA: A Retrospective Assessment

April 18, 2005 marks the 10th anniversary of The Michigan Economic Growth Authority, a program established by Michigan government with the mission of spurring in-state job creation and business investment. The authority is the state of Michigan’s agent for selecting firms to receive Single Business Tax credits in return for creating new facilities and jobs in Michigan. … more

Recommendations to Strengthen Civil Society and Balance Michigan's State Budget

If Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Legislature need specifics on how to close Michigan’s looming $1.7 billion budget deficit, they need look no further than the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s new report on balancing the state budget, released today.

More than 200 specific recommendations from Mackinac Center analysts total more than $2 billion in cost savings and revenue enhancements. All budget reductions, including those involving federal funds, total $3.7 billion. 157 pages. … more

Proposed Budget Reductions for the Michigan Department of Agriculture

Gov. Granholm and the Michigan Legislature can save $34 million in the state agriculture budget, and sell state land for another $59 million. … more

Trade Liberalization: The North American Free Trade Agreement's Economic Impact on Michigan

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is six years old. Has it benefited Michigan's economy? Or has it destroyed jobs and hampered prosperity, as predicted by many who participated in the national debate that raged for two years prior to its ratification? The verdict is in, and the available data clearly show that free trade is proving to be a significant boon to Michigan businesses and citizens. This study analyzes five years of import and export figures to show that the tariff cuts enacted by NAFTA have led to significantly increased Michigan exports to Canada and Mexico. The study concludes that while some businesses may have been hurt by NAFTA, on balance, removing government barriers to trade has been a positive step toward increasing the prosperity and standards of living for Michigan citizens-and citizens throughout America, Canada, and Mexico. … more

Washington Should Kick the Mandate Habit:

Unfunded mandates forced on state governments by Congress pose a substantial challenge to both their budgets and their fiscal sovereignty. Nearly one-third of the growth in Michigan state government revenue for 1993 was consumed by the cost of federal Medicaid mandates alone. The authors' recommendations include the creation of a mandate ombudsman and database, requirements that Congress determine the cost of mandates before passing them, and a call for Michigan's federal representatives to appear before the state legislature to explain their positions on mandate issues. 17 pages. … more